Monday, 2 May 2005

Polls raise balance of power problems again

This morning's Herald poll differs a little from the weekend's Sunday Star-Times-BRC poll, but both show Winston First clearly above the 5% threshold. I'm not a Winston fan, but this is surely due reward for being a proper opposition party leader - the only one for instance who's been supporting the Berrymans in parliament instead of making irrelevant hay over a silly interview. I commented on the lack of real opposition here a few weeks ago - looks like more than a few voters feel the same way.

Winston's not talking coalitions this election, whatever the polls say. At least, not yet. Asked if he believed his party could again hold the balance of power, he said: "We don’t use that phrase. We’ve moved on from there." And well he might, he's been burned before - and so have we. And so have the major parties; both are likely to look somewhat askance at doing a deal with parliament's devil.

And in any case, every coalition party in the MMP era has either been burnt by being too close to power (think Alliance), or is simply irrelevant (think Progressive). Which raises the question: How exactly should a minor party act when confronted by holding the balance of power? If they're principled and in favour of more freedom and less government, then they have no problem: they can simply say "We will support every measure that advances freedom without introducing any new coercion." And then they would do so. Such support would be reliable (as long as freedom is advanced) and consistent. Such a policy is that followed by the Costa Rican libertarian party Movimiento Libertario, who hold 5 of Costa Rica's 57 Congressional seats, and it's worked fine for them.

I explain here how the studious application of this principle would suggest that killing the entire front bench of Government in their beds would be unprincipled; and here (scroll down to 'We'll get our fair share of abuse') how this principle would rule out support for a flat tax, for educational vouchers, and for state welfare being a 'hand-up and not a hand-out.'


  1. Just a question:
    If the Libertarians were in Cabinet would they keep the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility?

  2. Good question, Greg, and the answer is that I really haven't given that one any thought, except as to its unlikelihood. :-)

    My first response would be that Libertarianz Ministers couldn't maintain collective cabinet responibility, as Libertarianz wouldn't agree with everything being done - that is, we wouldn't support any new coercion, and neither could a Libertarianz Minister.

    Which would possibly mean either that they would have to be Ministers outside Cabinet, or the doctrine would need to be re-thought to exclude responsibility for those things to which the Libz have opposed. The latter is in a sense what has happened with non-doormat Coalition Ministers up to now anyway, it seems to me.

    So that's my first response, which I'm happy to debate further.

  3. PC,
    you don't *really* think that Winston's support is up because he was the first to move on the Berryman thing do you? Winston's support is up because he has jumped back on his tried and trusted xenophobic bandwagon. This time, as every time, a small but significant percentage of small-minded bigots are lapping it up. Sad, but true.

  4. BB, you said: "you don't *really* think that Winston's support is up because he was the first to move on the Berryman thing do you? Winston's support is up because he has jumped back on his tried and trusted xenophobic bandwagon."

    I understand his latest Asian-bashing didn't really start until after this polling was undertaken; the injustice committed against the Berrymans was one issue that he's raised and carried on with, showing thathe's prepared to follo wup on an issue, and he's achieved some success, as he did with the Peron issue. He has also offered bribes to the elderly of course.


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