Making something compulsory because many people don’t like doing it is a daft approach with anything, and especially with democracy.
Hardly anyone likes brussel sprouts but that’s no good reason to make eating them compulsory.
Voting should be a choice and not forced by the State.
Guyon Espiner/RNZ has just done a length interview with ex Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer – see The Reformer – Geoffrey Palmer: Prime Minister 1989-90
Picking up on something from this NZ Herald reports:
New Zealand should adopt Australian rules and make it illegal not to vote, former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer says.
Palmer…told Radio NZ’s Guyon Espiner that voter apathy had led to Trumpery and Brexit.
“Democratic government around the western world is in some sort of crisis,” Palmer said.
“Look at the level of voting in the 2016 New Zealand municipal elections – hardly anyone votes. And yet we’ve got a supercity in Auckland with enormous powers – why would they not vote?
“It’s quite hard to understand. Are they turned off by it? Do they think it doesn’t matter?”
Voting in both local government and parliamentary elections should be enforced, Palmer said.
It’s not hard to understand why many voters might be turned off voting for politicians if people like Palmer try to force them to vote.
There’s a number of things wrong with what Palmer says in this one short article excerpt.
“voter apathy had led to Trumpery and Brexit”
That was in the US and UK, both very different situations to New Zealand.
If Australia, Indonesia and Fiji dictated laws and regulations in New Zealand I think there would be a lot of objections to ‘union’, as there have been in the UK.
If we had an election choice like Trump versus Hillary Clinton there would be voter despair here too.
Voter apathy is because politicians and politics don’t appeal to a lot of people – especially when they try to force things on you like compulsory voting.
“Democratic government around the western world is in some sort of crisis”
“Around the Western world” and “crisis” are both exaggerations, possibly massive exaggerations.
And I see little if any sign of crisis in democracy in New Zealand. It would be ridiculous trying to force Kiwis to vote because Aussies have had a high turnover of Governments – and ironically voting is compulsory in Australia.
“Look at the level of voting in the 2016 New Zealand municipal elections – hardly anyone votes.“
Many people did not vote, but many people did vote. There are a number of reasons for low turnout in local body elections.
Most people find local body politics uninteresting. Most people know little or nothing about most candidates. Local body ballot papers are bulky and confusing.
And yet we’ve got a supercity in Auckland with enormous powers – why would they not vote?
In last year’s local body elections the two largest mayoralty contests were foregone conclusions so there was little to inspire voters.
In Auckland Phil Goff was chosen by media to be mayor months before the election, and he has weak opponents.
In Christchurch Lianne Dalzeil had two opponents, John Minto who had moved down from Auckland to try to start a socialist revolution, and another guy who stands a lot and campaigns very little.
“It’s quite hard to understand. Are they turned off by it?”
It’s not hard to understand at all. Yes, many people are turned off by politicians and ex politicians who are totally out of touch with ordinary people’s lives and who try to force them to do things they don’t want to do.
“Do they think it doesn’t matter?”
Many people do think that their voting doesn’t matter, that it wouldn’t change anything much for them. And that it doesn’t matter which of National or Labour leads the Government.
“Voting in both local government and parliamentary elections should be enforced”.
Hardly anyone likes brussel sprouts but that’s no good reason to make their consumption compulsory.
Palmer could try forcing people to vote, and while they are at the booth force them to eat some veges, but I don’t think that would go down very well.
If politicians want more people to vote for them they should earn support, not try to force it.
If disinterested uninformed are forced to vote we are likely to get an uninformed result – or silly results due to protest voters.
Australia’s compulsory voting is in part they reason they have fringe parties who sometimes hold the balance of power, see The rise of `fringe’ parties.
Certainly attempts should be made to inform people more and encourage them to vote, starting with civics education in schools.
But if people don’t want to vote, and if people don’t want to be informed, then they should not be forced to vote.
We are better pushing for quality votes, not quantity votes.
And if we get better quality parties and candidates then more people might be inclined to vote.
However there is one problem with modern democracy in New Zealand.
Under MMP we have tended to have steady stable predictable governments that don’t swing and knee jerk wildly.
Good government should mainly mean quietly administering the country in the background, helping where necessary but not interfering in people’s lives.
A good government will be largely anonymous. Politics shouldn’t be a lolly scramble vote bribing disruptive imposer of unnecessary laws and regulations.
If that means less people are interested in voting then so be it.
As long as we are all able to vote if we choose then I don’t see what the problem with falling turnout is.
Palmer seems to be looking to regulate to solve a problem that doesn’t really need fixing – and certainly shouldn’t be fixed by force.
Many people see politicians as the see brussel sprouts – distasetful.
Perhaps politicians should try offering a better flavour.