Purposeful Young Professionals
On a sunny Saturday morning this 26 November, you can wander down the road, pop into a polling booth, and contribute to our democracy.
(First, though, you've got to be enrolled to vote. You can check that out here.)
In that booth there’ll be two bits of paper.
One bit of paper is orange. That’s to vote in the election. You’ll be asked two things. Firstly, what person you want to represent your electorate in Parliament.
Secondly, what party you support. Your party vote decides the share of the seats that each party will get in Parliament. The party or coalition that gets a majority of seats will be the government.
The other bit of paper is purple. That’s to vote in the referendum. We’re being asked which system we should use to elect our representatives. I reckon this is more important than the election. We elect our Parliament, and our government, for three years, and then we can change our minds. But it’s very rare for countries to consider changing how we choose that Parliament.
The questions on the voting paper are so important because how we elect our representatives determines who our representatives are.
And who our representatives are determines what happens to us and our communities. We elect them to make laws, as well as decisions on how New Zealand’s money should be used. Our representatives determine how we’re taxed, our education and health and welfare systems, the jobs available to us, the wars we get involved in, what we legally can and can’t do. Their decisions affect every aspect of our lives, from the condition of our roads and rivers, to our wages, to what our kids learn at school.
The system we have for choosing our representatives at the moment is called MMP. It’s proportional. That means that every vote counts: your party vote determines the make-up of Parliament.
Before 1993, we had a system called FPP. Under FPP, you had one vote, for a person to represent your electorate. The party that won the most electorate seats over the country became the government. This meant that if you were in a seat that was ‘safe’ in the hands of one party, your vote was wasted if you wanted to vote for someone else.
So, in 1972, National won more votes, but Labour was the government. Or, in 1981, Labour won more votes, but National became the government. That same year, Social Credit won 21% of the vote, but only 2% of the seats in Parliament. You can see how the type of voting system we use determines who is in Parliament, and so what happens in our country.
There will also be two questions on the purple bit of paper. The first will ask whether we want to keep MMP, or to change it. The second will ask what system you would prefer, if we did change it.
I feel lucky that, because of MMP, my vote has always counted towards who is in Parliament and therefore what is happening in New Zealand. So this referendum I’m voting to keep MMP, which will trigger an independent review to make it even better.
Here's how you can support the campaign to Keep MMP.
This is reposted from my blog: http://www.hula-hope.com/2011/10/very-short-introduction-to-referen...
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