Friday, July 15, 2011

Direct versus representational democracy

BOF is conducting an inquiry into recall elections, the idea of which is that a sufficiently high demand - as measured by a petition - requires a government to call an election.

In NSW part of the motivation for this was the perceived problem of how long it took to get rid of the post-Iemms Labor Government. One could suggest that a reversion to three year terms might be a better start.

But it reminds one of the distinction between direct and representational democracy. Whether people understand it or not, the latter is what we have. You are meant to choose people you trust to represent you, who when faced with the need for change because of change facts, are likely to decide the same way you would.

Because this can't be perfect and because voters change and politicians change we have regular new elections.

That's why Julia Gillard has introduced a carbon tax not an ETS, despite the latter being her preference and position before the election. The position was not the one that garnered a majority.

Tony Abbott has been calling for a plebiscite or an election on the carbon tax. But that isn't how it works. We don't allow one parliament to bind another for exactly these circumstances - governments govern if they get the support of the parliament and we re-judge them at the next election.

He now is reported as saying that a vote for Abbott to repeal the tax will be a guarantee of two elections because he'll call a double dissolution if he has to to repeal it.

This gives the PM the opportunity to now lay out the position.

If Mr Abbott agrees to stop calling for an election now and recognises the way the parliamentary system works she will introduce the tax and, if passed, implement it from July 1. She will then be happy to campaign on the carbon tax once people have seen its effect. Further she will commit the ALP to supporting the coalition in a repeal of the tax if she loses the election. But all she asks is that people be given the chance to assess the tax on its real effects not the scare campaign.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

No comments: