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John Key continues his populist politics with a dishonest presentation of MMP’s faults. New Zealand has never, as a nation, properly had MMP explained and as such we have continued to vote using First Past The Post two party thinking.

Many NZers still only see NZ as having two choices, Labour or National. Left or Right.

The thing is, we also pride ourselves as a democracy that is arguably more democratic than the United States.

What many people forget is that in a real democracy, every vote counts and every eligible group tends to get representation. This is what MMP provides. Contrary to populist belief, MMP doesn’t give small parties too much power, it holds back large parties from running rough shod over our political landscape. Which is precisely why National hates it and why Helen Clark was such a successful leader.

Labour’s three term success can be accounted to their embracing MMP and understanding that it prevents excess. What many forget is all the controversial laws that Labour passed were passed because National voted yea as well. MMP helps protect us from one party dominating the political landscape – and those who remember the years of FPP can attest to the problems that arise when one party dominates.

But National and its supporters want complete control. They don’t care about deals or compromise – they think they should have all the power and those who didn’t vote National have to suck it because they lost.

That is not a democratic mindset.

Small party ructions have nothing to do with MMP, and given the spats we’ve seen both in National and Labour, it is dishonest of him to paint this as a purely small party issue.

National does not play well with others and is taking the gamble that they can beat Labour next election and remove MMP, this improving their chances at retaining political influence without needing to rely on ACT – Rodney is right, without ACT the National Party will always struggle to hold control of government.

But Key knows that an honest discussion will not get him the result he wants, because as the Super City election has shown – the silent majority of NZ is not Right leaning but pragmatically centrist and will vote to the most moderate party.

National has slowly drifted Right from their moderate facelift last election. So it is John Key’s job to paint MMP as a system of extremes.

Ironically, because it best ensures a wider representation of NZ’s political position – these extremes balance each other out. It means that only the more moderate policies that everyone agrees on manage to make it through to become laws.

The laws that the true majority of NZers want. The Right minority may be the loudest and think they speak for everyone, but it has been shown time and again that this is not the truth at all.

Now is the time for we who prefer the middle road to step up and keep this country from falling back into only Labour or National. That way lies ruin.

Regardless of if you lean a little Right or a little Left, MMP is the best system for keeping politicians under control. National has learnt how hamstrung they are by it, but unlike Labour who learned to embrace this as a way to work with other parties and aim to truly represent a majority of NZers, National is trying to con us into being more extreme.

A good government is made of alliances and multiple perspectives working to find common ground. A bad government is bound to one ideology and has little restraint.

I think we should be saying MMP = More Moderate Policies. 🙂

And in regards to the next election, Phil Goff has managed to show recently that he does have some balls and is becoming a stronger more decisive leader. Conversely, recent events that have had importance for NZ have shown Key to be indecisive and weak.

The longer things take before next election, the more we will see Goff rise to his role. And in a way the more missteps Key makes, or issues he vacillates on while waiting to see where the popular vote leans – the more Goff will learn to step up to fill the gap.

As I said earlier this article, NZ is quietly a country of moderates. We don’t want to discriminate, we don’t want to give special treatment, we like change, but not too fast. We take pride in leading the pack, but worry about the risks. We are not a Conservative nation, but we aren’t fiercely liberal either.

Helen Clark understood this. John Key kind of does but doesn’t understand when he needs to make a stand or not. National as a party has no clue.


August 2022

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