Friday, October 09, 2009

The value of representative democracy

Back in August, Richard Ekins, law lecturer at Auckland University, delivered a superb lecture for the Maxim Institute: “ A Government for the People: The value of representative democracy” looking at the value of representative democracy as opposed to direct democracy in light of the anti-smacking referendum. You can listen to that lecture here. The paper has been made available today and you can read that here.

Ekins argues that, despite direct democracy aiming to circumvent political representatives, representative democracy is not second best democracy. Securing the will of the people is of more value than executing the will of the people. Read the whole speech, because whatever I write won’t do it justice. I may try and do a summary later.

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Blogger Chuck Bird said...

Dave, I attended the lecture in Auckland and have read his paper. He made some very good points but failed to address one of the main points I made. Most countries have different systems relating to elections, the power of politicians and what checks and balances are appropriate. There is no perfect system. In the NZ Herald today someone is singing the praises of MMP. Leighton Smith has a totally opposite view. The truth is there are pluses and minuses with both systems. The same applies to representative democracy versus direct democracy.

I am opposed to CIR for them same reason as Richard – getting the wording correct. The right to veto moral legislation by way of a referendum is another matter.

Much legislation is interrelated and some relates to international agreements with other countries or the UN – whatever one thinks of it. It would not do for New Zealand to renege on an international agreement because some fanatical pressure group forced a referendum on some issue.

As Richard said we elect people on a whole who are more talented and skilled than the average voter. However, when it come to moral issues like abortion, euthanasia and smacking I do not think intelligence or education comes into it. A labourer’s view should be as valid as someone with a PhD.

The law on smacking was passed to further the political careers of some politicians not on what is best for New Zealand. Reducing the drinking the drinking age was another mistake by the politicians. Politicians – particularly prime ministers are surrounded by sycophants. They are often less in touch with public feeling than they would think.

If the voters had been allowed the right of veto on such legislation as the anti- smack law, the drinking age and allowing underage girls to have about abortions arranged without parent’s knowledge I think we would have a lot better law.

I would like you or Richard to explain the downside of referenda restricted to vetoing moral legislation.

October 12, 2009 at 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A labourer’s view should be as valid as someone with a PhD.

Precisely. And in both cases that value should be zero.

If you want to improve society and make it more productive, then the only views that are valid are those from productive members of society that support society's productivity.

Why should a labourer, or a PhD academic loser - have any input into NZ - when the real work that pays both their and their families food, medical and education expenses is done by someone else, who actually creates real value and exports that value --- and who is completely fed up with all the bludhers in NZ!

October 14, 2009 at 3:48 PM  

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