Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Democracy on Trial
The overwhelming result of the smacking referendum should make the government respond. 88%% is a resounding rejection of the current legislation and a statement that NZer’s, right or wrong, believe that they should be able to smack their child. It does not endorse beating a child, but a smack given in love for good discipline. For me, this now puts the government on trial. Both Labour and National tried it on with NZ in their determination to push the legislation through despite it being clear to all that could see that the majority of NZers rejected it. It is possible that this was the decisive factor that stopped the left of NZ politics being reelected. National threw their lot in with this at the time. Now they are on trial. This result is a clear signal from mainstream NZ that they want a change. How they respond could define whether the Key-led government will be a multi-term government or whether it will a one or maybe two term government. If they themselves believe in the democratic process that upholds NZ and much of western society, they have no choice but to respond by revising the legislation to ensure that the average NZer who smacks their child out of love and as a last resort to enforce good values. If they don’t they will not last and neither should they. If they ignore it they insult NZ. They will demonstrate the arrogance NZers have come to hate from politicians. They will reinforce the widely held view that politicians have lost touch with NZ and they should be removed from office at the next election. This has become much bigger than a vote of smacking, it has become a test of whether NZ is genuinely democratic. Who I vote for at the next election will be profoundly affected by their response. What I am seeing so far from Key is a mistake. He should front up and acknowledge NZ's will and democracy. He is making mistakes.