Well, that’s one election down. I found Wednesday exciting and emotional. We have known all year that history could be made in the US with the possibility of either a woman or Afro-American president being elected. Here in New Zealand everyone seemed to be hoping for an Obama victory and were openly delighted with the result.
Now we can shift attention to our own election – which occurs in Saturday!
There are big differences between these two elections – quite apart from their historic and international significance. One feature I see as an advantage is the MMP system – the mixed member proportional representation we have in our Parliament. This means that we can elect a more representative parliament than under the old first past the post system where we sometimes found a party could be elected with less votes than the defeated party.
Advantages of MMP
Some people don’t like the fact that we now tend to have governments which are coalitions, or minority governments supported by agreements with smaller parties. However, I see that as an advantage. Government formation, and to some extent their legislative programme, now involves negotiation. There is more chance for the interests of all social groups to be represented.
Even parties which are outside a government coalition and/or have no support agreement can participate in the normal parliamentary processes. This also helps democratic representation. And there is not doubt that the composition of our parliament these days is far more representative than it use to be under the old fist past the post system.
Election of parliament – not government
So, personally, I don’t approach Saturdays election in terms of election of a government or Prime Minister – but in terms of election of a parliament. This means that I must consider all the political parties who realistically have a chance of representation – not just the National and Labour Parties.
I realise that single issues don’t usually determine an election – or individuals voting decisions. However, there’s no doubt that attitudes towards science are important for our country’s future. This is central to issues like our economy, threats to our agricultural industry, development of other industries and responses to climate change. All issues which people consider at election time. It’s worth, therefore, considering the science policies of the political parties.
Heraclides has suggested a link to the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) site www.VoteScience.org) which brings together science policy statments from the political parties. It also offers a commentary analysing these statements (NZAS commentary). The Science Media Centre also offers information on the science policies of the minor parties (Election 08: The minor parties on the big science issues and Election 08: 10 science questions for the Green Party).
Have a look if you are interested. But even if you aren’t – don’t forget to vote on Saturday.
See also the statements from the NZAS site:
Green party (2008)
Labour party (2008) interim statement
Labour party (2008) final statement
Maori party (2008)
National party (2008)
NZ First party (2008)
United Futures party (2008)
Progressive party (2008)
NZAS commentary on the party policy statements