Thursday, June 2, 2011

Politics 101

I find it worrisome that a decent chunk of the population share a misguided notion of what a mandate is. A political mandate is the delivery of an individuals power into the hands of a representative. With MMP, there are two votes. Firstly for your local representative, whichever candidate gets the largest mandate takes the seat. The second vote is for a party. If a party has a majority of the votes, it has teh largest mandate and forms a government. If it has the most votes of any single parties but not a majority of the votes, it does not control a sufficiently large mandate to form a government. We, as voters deliver our power to our representatives, in this case, parties. If some of those parties think they can work together and together control a majority of the electorates loyalty, then as a group they have a mandate, even if none of them won the most votes. Winning the most votes is not a victory in any sense of the word unless you control a majority of the electorates loyalty as well. The act of voting delivers power to representatives who then use their judgement and go on to form an alliance. If you can form an alliance that controls more than 50% of the electorates votes, that alliance has a mandate to govern.

Large numbers of people don't seem to get this. The assertion that the most votes gives a party a mandate to govern can pretty much be guaranteed to come up in any discussion of MMP , usually, though not always from members or supporters of the party likely to get the most votes but not beable to control a majority of the mandate. Sometimes though it comes from people who are just pissed off. Mike Lee for instance states that Steven Joyce has no mandate to act as transport minister. As much as I like Joyce, this is just bollocks. At the last election, The National party was able form an alliance to control a majority of the votes. Those that voted for National, delivered their power, their mandate to the National party. Steven Joyce, as a representative of the National party has control of and executes that mandate legitimately. Seriously, it's not that hard a concept to grasp and a politician like Lee should be sufficiently well versed in these things that it's not something he should be saying, even off the cuff.

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