Dysfunctional democracies

There seems to be growing dysfunction in democracies with important associations with New Zealand.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom continues to struggle with it’s exit from the European Union after a controversial referendum in 2016 chose Brexit by a fairly close margin. It is claimed that the referendum was unduly affected by social media manipulation similar to what happened in the US election, also in 2016.

Prime Minister Theresa May made a disastrous decision to have a snap election and seems to have gone downhill from there. Her Conservative Party has been in a close contest with the opposing Labour Party in the polls for some time, largely because of the arguably equally unpopular leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Not only does UK politics look in dire straits, their future as a country, especially as a trading nation, looks precarious. They are struggling to sort out an exit of the European Union, and that is delaying attempts to negotiate with alternate trade partners.

The Telegraph: Theresa May is showing how thorny a ‘clean Brexit’ could be so voters reconsider her plan

The Telegraph: Who do you think should be the next leader of the Conservative Party?

Over the past few months notable Conservative politicians and outside voices have questioned Theresa May’s ability to lead the party through Brexit and beyond. This in turn has cast doubt over the stability and longevity of the Prime Minister’s position in the top job.

 

United States

Who is in the most disarray, the Republicans or the Democrats? Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton deserved to lose the 2016 presidential election, and it’s arguable that the worst person won.

Trump has had some short term wins with some policies, especially with huge tax cuts, but the effects of resulting huger debts may case major problems in the future, especially if the record length bull run in the markets hiccups, as it inevitably will at some stage. the odds are that that will be soonish.

Trump has had a shambolic approach to trade ‘negotiations’, and a high risk approach to international relations. He often seems to work (or tweet) at odds with his top officials, and has questionable inclinations towards appeasement with Russia (while his country increases sanctions for interference in their democracy).

National Security Adviser John Bolton: U.S. sanctions to stay until Russia changes its behavior

Trump’s claims of great success in his meeting with Kim Yong Un seem to have been premature: Trump says Pompeo won’t go to North Korea, criticizes denuclearization progress

And his potential legal problems grow. Graham: Trump Will “Very Likely” Fire Sessions After Midterms – sacking everyone who won’t support his attempts at interference is unlikely to save him in the long run.

Much of the world watches in wonder at what the most powerful democracy in the world has become.

While many stupid and troubling things are by Trump there’s hope that his big mouth and little fingers won’t work there way towards the big button – however there are risks that Trump might escalate attempts to divert from all his problems by choosing a military sideshow, a common ploy of tyrants who can make their people revere them.

But the Democrats look in disarray after the disastrous Clinton presidential campaign. Hillary may be considering another shot at the presidency, which would likely dismay many, and there is no clear alternative (although in US politics it’s a long time until the next presidential election (2020). Trump was just an unlikely contender in a crowd of wannabe candidates two years before he won.

Australia

Our relatively) close neighbours the Aussies have a new Prime Minister that most Kiwis are unlikely to have heard of (Scott Morrison, after two leadership votes in a week. The deposing of Malcolm Turnbull adds to the procession of Australian Prime Ministers who have failed to see out a term in office.

See Out with the not very old Aussie PM, in with the new.

The change of leadership looks like a bit of a move right, but looks likely to be tested at an election soon, if Turnbull resigns and the Government loses it’s one seat majority.

Labour’s left has been riven by ructions in the not very distant past.

Depressing

This could be quite depressing for those who yearn for healthy democracies and competent politicians and parties. Is democracy self imploding, or can it recover?

Meanwhile, New Zealand

Here we have a three party government that has it’s challenges, and it’s critics, but the big local political stories of the week have been about the leak of expenses details several days before they were due to be released, and the semi-demotion of a Minister who didn’t properly record or advise having a meeting with someone who could potentially be a big benefit to the country.

52 Comments

  1. The South Carolina company, the only mass assembler of televisions in America, said proposed penalties on imported TVs would finally help it compete against cheaper models from China.

    Then the Trump administration expanded its planned tariffs and targeted TV parts, rather than fully assembled sets. Now the company is on the verge of shutting its US operations, unless some powerful allies in Washington intervene.

    Baer said Tuesday that the factory will close after the company exhausts its inventory in October. Element has already moved production abroad to avoid possible duties that might kick in this fall.

    The administration is considering a 10% or 25% tariff on LCD panels and motherboards as part of a package of additional penalties on Chinese goods worth $200 billion. Element says it must import those parts to assemble televisions in the United States.

    There are usually losers as well as winners when tariffs are imposed. And the more tariffs are tweaked, the more messy it becomes – businesses find it increasingly difficult to plan ahead, and tend to reduce investment and employment.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 25, 2018

    May has been a disaster at uniting her country, party and even her cabinet.

    Turnbull seems to have been the same though his split was inherited.

    Trump has been successful in taking over his party but at the expense of deeply dividing the country.

    It’s not hard to find deep divisions in msny other democracies too. Changes in immigration and economics are at the root.

    • I think that there’s a general deterioration in how some democracies operate. This has been trending worse for years, probably decades.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 25, 2018

        Another factor is the splintering of national media sources into partisan factions so each group watches its version of the news and current affairs.

        • Griff.

           /  August 25, 2018

          Yess Alan the rejection of mainstream media for partisan sources.
          Now who does that all the time?

  3. NOEL

     /  August 25, 2018

    NZ Remains high on the index.
    In 2016 the were predicting the US would fall into the “Flawed list”.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=democracy+index+2017&oq=democracy+index&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l15.12413j0j4&sourceid=silk&ie=UTF-8

  4. Gezza

     /  August 25, 2018

    • Corky

       /  August 25, 2018

      I wouldn’t rank Sweden up there. Perhaps they are living on past glories.

      • Gezza

         /  August 25, 2018

        The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index is based on five categories, Corks: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Based on their scores on 60 indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy; flawed democracy; hybrid regime; and authoritarian regime.

        Possibly might have better sources than Stefan Molyneux and Breitbart?
        Here – if you want to follow it up & report back:
        http://www.eiu.com/public/marketing/ContactUs.aspx

        • Corky

           /  August 25, 2018

          Yes, I might have been too quick off the mark. I just looked at the broad categories of
          functioning of government; civil liberties( or lack thereof) and political culture( or lack thereof). Maybe the sub indicators are skewing the larger picture. Seems to me you can’t have a growing subversive anti democracy element within a country and be rated as a top notch democracy.

          I think I’ll pass on any follow up.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  August 25, 2018

          How is political culture scored? I smell a rat in those numbers.

          • Gezza

             /  August 25, 2018

            I posted a link to their contact page, Al.

            If you want to query that and report back, that’d be great. 👍

            There are email addresses for their 3 main offices on that page if you want to email them instead.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              Surely they explain their calculations somewhere? Otherwise its just empty posturing.

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              Well I didn’t look for them.

              Did you?

              If you haven’t found out how they do their calculations, how can you conclude that it’s just empty posturing? 👀

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              Anyone can invent and weight any numbers they like. To mean anything they have to have a justifiable connection to reality. So far you have just given us a set of numbers absent any justification from a now rather suspect source.

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              Where have you looked for details?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              Your post your problem.

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              Christ you’re lazy. Worse than Trump.
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index#Method

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              Ok, so it’s a load of old cobblers and random “expert” opinions and we can pretty much ignore anything other than major differences in its scores. Thanks.

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              Let’s see your one now?

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              The CIA??
              Fark.
              Where’s their democracy ranking list?
              Link me to that one.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              Fascinating order though, isn’t it? What is our democracy doing wrong?

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              It’s GDP Per Capita.

              That’s not at all fascinating. Apples with bananas.

              Where’s their democracy ranking list?

              If they haven’t got one, let’s see yours? Otherwise we’ll just have to go with the Economist’s until you come up with something else.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              Nope. If the purpose of democracy is to serve the people then delivering a good per head income is a reasonable measure of success and certainly just as reasonable as the Economist fudge figures and far more objective. And the results raise significant hard questions that we should consider instead of the usual fairy fantasies we hear about.

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              For democracy??

              Your Ranking No’s:
              02 – Qatar
              09 – Brunei
              13 – UAE
              15 – Kuwait
              17 – Hong Kong
              22 – Saudi Arabia
              48 – New Zealand
              ?
              Go away. You’re just embarrassing yourself.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              We should be thinking about why we are so far behind. That is what is embarrassing.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              (Along with your refusal to think about it.)

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              I accept your pathetic apology for having the density of hide to argue that Qatar, Brunei, UAE, Kuwait ⭐🌙, Hong Kong & Saudi Arabia 👳 are more democratic than New Zealand and to try and make some stupid economics excuse for it.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              Idiot, I’m not debating more democratic, I’m debating the heading to this post – dysfunctional democracies.

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              How rude ! >:D

              You’re twaddling on in a sub-thread about the Economist’s Democracy Index. And you posted a link to a CIA Factbook index that you then attempted to argue must be more democratic because GDP Per Capita. Or something. Christ knows.

              If you want to debate the heading to the post – post somewhere else – go back to the margin somewhere – all this sub-thread is doing is making you look daft.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              This is my sub-thread where I smelt a rat but I didn’t know it was you. Go away and let intelligent people comment.

            • Gezza

               /  August 25, 2018

              So far that’s only been Corks and me in this sub-thread. And we haven’t even got PhDs.

              Bloody sad state of affairs.

              At least Corks knows when to tap out .

          • robertguyton

             /  August 25, 2018

            Check your pantry, Alan!

    • Griff.

       /  August 25, 2018

      OECD Better Life Index
      1 Norway
      2 Denmark
      3 Australia
      4 Sweden
      5 Canada
      6 Switzerland
      7 Iceland
      8 United States
      9 Finland
      10 Netherlands
      11 New Zealand
      12 Belgium
      13 Germany
      14 Luxembourg
      15 Ireland
      16 United Kingdom
      17 Austria
      18 France
      19 Spain
      20 Slovenia
      http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/#/11111111111
      Perhaps more to Alan taste as it ranks on gdp among other metrics .

      • Gezza

         /  August 25, 2018

        It’s too late for that. He’s already embarrassed himself.

        • Griff.

           /  August 25, 2018

          Tell us something new.
          He does it daily with his infatuation with his Orangeness.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 25, 2018

            Get the capitalisation right: His Orangeness.

        • Griff.

           /  August 25, 2018

          The OECD better life index is interesting it allows you to look at individual metrics and see how changing the weighting changes overall ratings .

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 25, 2018

            Exactly my point. The individual metrics mean something. The weighted sum doesn’t.

            • Griff.

               /  August 25, 2018

              Umm any look at such a complex subject as the success of a democracy is going to rely on weighting the different metrics that may be applicable.
              There is much more to life than money .
              Else you would be working your arse of in Dubai and I would be in some shite hole Au company mining town in the back of beyond.
              Or some such opportunity that gives gobs of mulla rather than lifestyle that hazarding a guess has kept both of us in NZ .
              The OECD ranking I gave is the sum of the ranking over all metrics they use without weighting individually.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 25, 2018

              That’s right, Griff. And different people apply different weights for themselves and these change for different periods in their lives. That’s why some people are actually doing those jobs.

              So the important things are what are the individual metrics so that we can choose those that are important to us and ignore the rest.

              For example, I don’t care how often the PM changes but I do care about what standard of living people are getting. Obviously other things like social freedom, education and health, personal safety and security, and rule of law are also important. They tend to be requirements rather than weighting factors.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 25, 2018

        Meaning is lost as soon as you introduce weighting. Tells us nothing.

  5. sorethumb

     /  August 25, 2018

    Perhaps we need the Alt Right to help us in New Zealand have a debate about what we see as the boundaries to free speech and what constitutes incitement to hostility and contempt in the words of the Human Rights Act.

    But, as a recent NZ Herald editorial noted, Southern and Molyneux’s views are easily accessed online and not all “have a right to room on other platforms that try to serve the public interest”.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503459&objectid=12101943

    The two main ideologies today are not left-right but globalism v nationalism. Globalism is bad for all but those at the top therefore those at the bottom must be denied a voice. Voice (in this case) includes academic research, a voice in the media etc. In fact that is what the HRC does it bans dissent by calling people opposed to cultural policies (invasion) “racists” and “bigots”.

  6. PartisanZ

     /  August 25, 2018

    The problem with democracy as we know it is so-called ‘democracy’ itself …

    Our current version of slightly adapted Westminster Parliamentary ‘democracy’, essentially a vestige from the horse-drawn age, with significant remnants of fuedalism and industrialisation-syndrome, is no longer fit-for-purpose …

    Perhaps especially not fit-for-purpose in a country dealing with its own de-colonizing and/or “post-colonial”, bicultural multiculturalism, along with the effects of ‘globalization’ and the increased ‘ownership’ of governments by corporate-political elites …

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 25, 2018

    The embarrassing GDP(PPP) per capita figures from my link above:
    7 SINGAPORE $93,900 2017 EST.
    10 IRELAND $75,500 2017 EST.
    17 HONG KONG $61,400 2017 EST.
    18 SWITZERLAND $61,400 2017 EST.
    19 UNITED STATES $59,500 2017 EST.
    29 AUSTRALIA $50,300 2017 EST.
    39 UNITED KINGDOM $44,100 2017 EST.
    48 NEW ZEALAND $38,900 2017 EST.

    How do we get it so badly wrong?

    • Blazer

       /  August 25, 2018

      apparently thats called a ‘rockstar economy’…we went wrong by selling the country…our biggest export is…profits.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 25, 2018

        You could apply that argument to Ireland rather than NZ.

  1. Dysfunctional democracies — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition