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 Post subject: Direct Democracy
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:08 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:48 pm
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What are peoples views on Direct Democracy?

This is a subject that resonates quite deeply with me. It frustrates me to no end that in today's world of accessible information and connectedness, that people don't have direct input into the forming and passing of policies. It strikes me that this is a form of government that aligns itself quite closely with the ideals of PPNZ. I gather that the heart of PPNZ is about protecting information, innovation, freedom of speech, and creating transparency in government. It seems to me that this has a missing piece - direct democracy. Offering transparency of government and protection of personal liberties is one thing, but it's not a complete picture. It's like saying "We're showing you everything that's going on, and we've given you a voice, but nobody is listening".

I also think there is a problem with PPNZ being viewed as a "one issue" party. You can dress it up anyway you like but as it stands today, it really is. As such I struggle to see PPNZ ever gathering enough support to get elected (and that has to be the ultimate goal right?). Direct democracy could be a principle that changes this. At the heart of PPNZ should always be the unyielding stance on protecting personal liberties, but for everything else, maybe there should be an adoption of a "Tell us what you think?" attitude.

Thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Direct Democracy
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:44 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:30 pm
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ardob wrote:
What are peoples views on Direct Democracy?
I'm not a fan of it. Here's a copy and paste of something I posted to a mailing list a while back:

I'm not a big fan of direct democracy, as I posted a while ago in this thread: <http://pirateparty.org.nz/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1763#p1763>

My thinking here is not that MPs are especially good at decision making, just that they're about the only people who ever really have political discussions. If you were to gather together all the people 18 or over at the local mall on your next visit, and get them to discuss proposed laws and run the country, I suspect the result would be fairly similar to Parliament in terms of competence (although they'd be somewhat younger, less affluent, possibly more multicultural, and with a lower ratio of penises per person). I think an importance difference though, is that most of the people at the mall are probably never going to have such a discussion.

I think I remember hearing that in the original democracy in ancient Greece, any freeman could come in to parliament, have their say in the discussion, and cast their vote in decisions. I guess they could leave their wives and slaves to run the households though. The abolition of slavery, the suffragette movement, and the sheer size of countries nowadays makes this form of government no longer practical.

Representative government allows keeping the requirement that the people who make decisions must sit through the discussion before voting but not keeping the requirement that all people can cast a vote on the decision, whereas direct democracy allows keeping the requirement that all people can cast a vote on the decision but not keeping the requirement that they have to sit through the discussion first. If it's a choice between one or the other, I'd prefer to keep the requirement that all people who vote must sit through the discussion first. (Although I'd like to have both, and I wonder if it might look something like this <http://debategraph.org/home>).

My feeling from the last referendum we had (on the anti-smacking law) was that MPs generally managed to realise that the existing law wasn't working (although they seemed to fail to understand why) whereas much of the general public seemed to fail to even realise that the existing law wasn't working, and I think in general where-ever MPs' overall understanding of an issue is lacking, the general public's overall understanding is likely to be even worse.

One dreadful example that springs to mind is the revision of the age of consent law a while back. From memory, I think only older males could be prosecuted for sexual relations with minors (those under 16 years), and the law was being reviewed for sexual equality (so older females could be prosecuted for sexual relations with minors too).

In the process of the review, it was noticed that the law allowed the prosecution of an older person even if they were only marginally older, and themselves under the age of consent, e.g. a 15 year old having sex with a 14 year old would be considered a paedophile by law. In fact it could be really ridiculous--if two 15 year olds have sex, and the male is older by a couple of days, they are a paedophile, whereas if the female is older by a couple of days, they are the paedophile.

AFAIK this is not a conviction that can be removed under the clean slate law, it's something that stays with a person for life, needs to be disclosed in many situations such as job applications, and will become increasingly difficult to explain with age. It's bad news. And it could happen to anyone who's girlfriend/boyfriend's parents take a disliking to.

Parliament (very sensibly IMHO) considered adding an exception to the law if the age difference was less than two years, and there was a massive public outcry because it spread around churches that the age of consent was to be abolished. That is to say there was a massive public outcry from people who were totally ignorant of what they were objecting to.

Public opinion prevailed, and we effectively got direct democracy in all its glory.


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 Post subject: Re: Direct Democracy
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:11 pm 
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Kia ora

Anyone interested in trying Liquid Democracy?
http://www.spiegel.de/international/ger ... 83,00.html

It's free code software created by the German PP:
http://liquidfeedback.org/

Ma te wā
Strypey

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"A government is a body of people, usually, notably ungoverned." - Shepherd Book, 'Firefly'


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 Post subject: Re: Direct Democracy
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:10 pm 
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Kia ora

I'm all for direct democracy, and most of the groups and networks I've worked in for the last 15 years or so have been experiments in it.

>> If you were to gather together all the people 18 or over at the local mall on your next visit, and get them to discuss proposed laws and run the country... I think an importance difference though, is that most of the people at the mall are probably never going to have such a discussion. <<

An afternoon listening to talkback should be enough to show you this is wrong. A quick visit to any of the 99% movement occupations. Even with the often crap weather, the uncomfortable surroundings, the legal uncertainties about their right to be there, and the constant corporate media smears about them being full of smelly, pot-smoking, homeless, jobless, baby-eating barbarians, there were still thousands of people who came down to the occupations to debate us.

People are super-keen to debate politics, philosophy, economics, ethics etc, despite the fact there is little systemic motivation for them to bother, and no serious consequences if they don't put in the effort to get things right - they can just blame politicians. I think a system of democracy that allowed direct participation would encourage collective intelligence, not mob rule (wasn't this the boogyman used by feudal aristocrats and politburo-crats to attack democracy?) .

Remember, people used the same arguments against direct democracy to tell us that every other form of crowdsourcing would never work. Wikipedia, Open Street Maps, and numerous other examples do not support these arguments. Neither does the mass online collaboration that generated the new Icelandic constitution.

>> The abolition of slavery, the suffragette movement, and the sheer size of countries nowadays makes this form of government no longer practical. <<

Wrong. It makes real democracy of any kind impractical if all decisions are taken at a national or global level. If, on the other hand, decisions take place at the appropriate scale, most decision could be made at a personal, household or neighbourhood scale, by a variety of direct democratic methods.

Decisions at municipal, bioregional, continental or global scales could be taken using a system of recallable delegates, rather than elected representatives or parties, who can (and regularly do) promise one thing during an election campaign and do another. The example of the linguistics professor in the article on LiquidFeedback is one example of this delegation principle in practice.

>> Representative government allows keeping the requirement that the people who make decisions must sit through the discussion before voting but not keeping the requirement that all people can cast a vote on the decision <<

Wrong again. Have you ever been to parliament? I have. I didn't just sit in for question time, the most exciting part of the proceedings, I sat in for a few hours afterwards. After question time was over, most of the MPs left, leaving about 3 in their seats, at least one of whom was usually napping. Other MPs would come in, wait quietly until the current speaker was finished, then give their speech to a practically empty room.

>> If it's a choice between one or the other, I'd prefer to keep the requirement that all people who vote must sit through the discussion first. (Although I'd like to have both, and I wonder if it might look something like this <http://debategraph.org/home>). <<

This be achieved by a number of methods. One is having the vote at the end of a face-to-face discussion. Perhaps voting papers could be issued at the beginning of the discussion, but it's pretty obvious if someone sneaks into the room at voting time. Delegation could be used here too, as in the LiquidFeedback example. For decision-making on scales that make face-to-face meetings impractical, a combination of video-conferencing and more delegation could be used.

The crucial point that should be made here though, is that democracy and majority voting are not the same thing. Nor are they always even compatible. Voting has become so fetishized in representative democracies that its proponents forget that the Soviet Bloc countries all had majoritarian elections for offices within the Party, and that Hitler was elected by majority vote.

Wikipedia is not written by block voting on pre-framed options, but by collaborative editing. Similarly, direct democracy is more about participation in the framing and wording of a decision than it is about replacing voting for representatives with online voting or binding referenda or whatever.

I'm quite intrigued by a system called 'demarchy', which chooses a different 'parliament of our peers' (similar to jury selection) to lead a public collaboration for each new law change proposed. This 'public select committee' would be similar to the exiting select committees of MPs, but because it is chosen randomly from the population at large, it's not so easily influenced in advance by powerful interests. This model is not incompatible with a house of representatives, which could function as an upper house, checking the draft law handed back by the select committees against things like human rights considerations.

>> Parliament (very sensibly IMHO) considered adding an exception to the law if the age difference was less than two years, and there was a massive public outcry because it spread around churches that the age of consent was to be abolished. That is to say there was a massive public outcry from people who were totally ignorant of what they were objecting to.

Public opinion prevailed, and we effectively got direct democracy in all its glory.[/quote] <<

This is the outcome of representative government and majaority-rules. It has nothing to do with direct democracy, and arguably nothing to do with meaningful democracy of any kind. In this example, as mentioned above, the parliamentary monopoly on participation in real decision-making is a disincentive for people to bother getting their facts straight, or participate in open debate outside their own social networks. However, as your example illustrates nicely, it doesn't even provide effective consistent checks and balances against the ignorance that monopoly creates.

Your argument here reminds me of the way opponents of drug law reform often blame the existence of drugs for problems evidently caused by their prohibition.

Hei konei rā
Strypey

_________________
"A government is a body of people, usually, notably ungoverned." - Shepherd Book, 'Firefly'


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 Post subject: Re: Direct Democracy
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:34 pm 
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ardob wrote:
What are peoples views on Direct Democracy?

This is a subject that resonates quite deeply with me. It frustrates me to no end that in today's world of accessible information and connectedness, that people don't have direct input into the forming and passing of policies. It strikes me that this is a form of government that aligns itself quite closely with the ideals of PPNZ. I gather that the heart of PPNZ is about protecting information, innovation, freedom of speech, and creating transparency in government. It seems to me that this has a missing piece - direct democracy. Offering transparency of government and protection of personal liberties is one thing, but it's not a complete picture. It's like saying "We're showing you everything that's going on, and we've given you a voice, but nobody is listening".

I also think there is a problem with PPNZ being viewed as a "one issue" party. You can dress it up anyway you like but as it stands today, it really is. As such I struggle to see PPNZ ever gathering enough support to get elected (and that has to be the ultimate goal right?). Direct democracy could be a principle that changes this. At the heart of PPNZ should always be the unyielding stance on protecting personal liberties, but for everything else, maybe there should be an adoption of a "Tell us what you think?" attitude.

Thoughts?


I believe that there should be a degree of direct democracy, and I will start to outline the system I've been thinking about below, as well as in other replies in this thread.

I would advocate having a voter card that is given out to voters after they cast their votes in the election.
It would have a unique weblogin ID and initial password under a scratch-off area, which would allow users to login to a government website or 0800 phoneline and vote on the topics that interest them.
Obviously, this would require that all local libraries provide free access to the central government direct democracy website as well as the local government direct democracy website.

At this point, I'm going to advocate calling this site "www.myvote.govt.nz"
Now, as some people might complain this would be too much to ask ordinary voters to have a say in everything that comes up in parliament, I'll suggest that there should be an option to allocate certain areas of interest to political parties such as the pirate party, and the option to have differing political affiliations in different areas.
For example, say I allot the myvote areas on internet issues, civil liberties, freedom of speech, and government transparency to the Pirate Party. Then say I allot the myvote areas on health, education and welfare to the Labour Party. I then leave other myvote issue areas free for me to decide how government acts.

This is going to be an easy system to put in place, New Zealand could easily adapt our current system of parliamentary consultations, for example the current MMP review which has a deadline of 5th April for submissions, which could easily have better handling by online polling of interested voters. Those voters who don't have the time to put their myvote in individually could allot their proxy myvote to the party they trust on that issue.

Of course for now, you can make a submission on http://www.mmpreview.org.nz/


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 Post subject: Re: Direct Democracy
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:11 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:30 pm
Posts: 484
strypey wrote:
Anyone interested in trying Liquid Democracy?
I guess it would probably make sense to look at some kind of voting software at some stage, and at first glance this looks decent.

james g wrote:
If you were to gather together all the people 18 or over at the local mall on your next visit, and get them to discuss proposed laws and run the country... I think an importance difference though, is that most of the people at the mall are probably never going to have such a discussion.
strypey wrote:
An afternoon listening to talkback should be enough to show you this is wrong. A quick visit to any of the 99% movement occupations. Even with the often crap weather, the uncomfortable surroundings, the legal uncertainties about their right to be there, and the constant corporate media smears about them being full of smelly, pot-smoking, homeless, jobless, baby-eating barbarians, there were still thousands of people who came down to the occupations to debate us.
Yes, I don't doubt that there are thousands of people in New Zealand who have serious meaningful political discussions. But there are millions of people in New Zealand.

strypey wrote:
People are super-keen to debate politics, philosophy, economics, ethics etc, despite the fact there is little systemic motivation for them to bother, and no serious consequences if they don't put in the effort to get things right - they can just blame politicians. I think a system of democracy that allowed direct participation would encourage collective intelligence, not mob rule (wasn't this the boogyman used by feudal aristocrats and politburo-crats to attack democracy?)
Crowd-sourcing political debates would be great. Crowd-sourcing uninformed opinions, not so much.

strypey wrote:
Remember, people used the same arguments against direct democracy to tell us that every other form of crowdsourcing would never work. Wikipedia, Open Street Maps, and numerous other examples do not support these arguments. Neither does the mass online collaboration that generated the new Icelandic constitution.
Yeah, depends on how it's done. I'm not opposed to crowd-sourcing per se.

james g wrote:
The abolition of slavery, the suffragette movement, and the sheer size of countries nowadays makes this form of government no longer practical.
strypey wrote:
Wrong. It makes real democracy of any kind impractical if all decisions are taken at a national or global level. If, on the other hand, decisions take place at the appropriate scale, most decision could be made at a personal, household or neighbourhood scale, by a variety of direct democratic methods.
I was talking about the form of democracy used in ancient Greece, and by impractical I mean you couldn't get all the voters in New Zealand together in a room, because they wouldn't fit.

strypey wrote:
Decisions at municipal, bioregional, continental or global scales could be taken using a system of recallable delegates, rather than elected representatives or parties, who can (and regularly do) promise one thing during an election campaign and do another. The example of the linguistics professor in the article on LiquidFeedback is one example of this delegation principle in practice.
The National Party promised to improve educational outcomes for primary school children by implementing national assessment at the primary school level. After they researched this, it turns out that implementing national assessment at the primary school level doesn't improve educational outcomes for primary school children, it does exactly the opposite. But since they'd promised to implement national assessment at the primary school level, they decided to do it anyway. Although actually they promised not just to implement national assessment at the primary school level, but to improve educational outcomes by doing so, which means they still broke their promise. IMHO it would be better if decision-making were less focused on making promises based on preconceived ideas, and more focussed on research and debate and the conclusions that follow from them.

james g wrote:
Representative government allows keeping the requirement that the people who make decisions must sit through the discussion before voting but not keeping the requirement that all people can cast a vote on the decision.
strypey wrote:
Wrong again. Have you ever been to parliament? I have. I didn't just sit in for question time, the most exciting part of the proceedings, I sat in for a few hours afterwards. After question time was over, most of the MPs left, leaving about 3 in their seats, at least one of whom was usually napping. Other MPs would come in, wait quietly until the current speaker was finished, then give their speech to a practically empty room.
Well okay, fair enough, to an extent. Although I understand Parliament is generally fuller during the discussions before voting takes place.

james g wrote:
If it's a choice between one or the other, I'd prefer to keep the requirement that all people who vote must sit through the discussion first. (Although I'd like to have both, and I wonder if it might look something like this <http://debategraph.org/home>).
strypey wrote:
This be achieved by a number of methods. One is having the vote at the end of a face-to-face discussion. Perhaps voting papers could be issued at the beginning of the discussion, but it's pretty obvious if someone sneaks into the room at voting time. Delegation could be used here too, as in the LiquidFeedback example. For decision-making on scales that make face-to-face meetings impractical, a combination of video-conferencing and more delegation could be used.
My thought here is that ideally perhaps people could vote on all the parts of the debate... Is this a valid argument? Is this a sound premise? rather than voting simply on an outcome, and the outcome could be calculated by logical deduction. This way everyone who voted would have to look at the arguments, because they would be voting on the arguments. Delegation's okay, as long as you're delegating to someone who's going to take part in the discussion.

strypey wrote:
The crucial point that should be made here though, is that democracy and majority voting are not the same thing. Nor are they always even compatible. Voting has become so fetishized in representative democracies that its proponents forget that the Soviet Bloc countries all had majoritarian elections for offices within the Party, and that Hitler was elected by majority vote.

Wikipedia is not written by block voting on pre-framed options, but by collaborative editing. Similarly, direct democracy is more about participation in the framing and wording of a decision than it is about replacing voting for representatives with online voting or binding referenda or whatever.
That being the case, I don't have anything against direct democracy. My impression from the use of the term has been that it generally refers to crowd sourcing ignorance, and this is what I'm not in favour of.

strypey wrote:
I'm quite intrigued by a system called 'demarchy', which chooses a different 'parliament of our peers' (similar to jury selection) to lead a public collaboration for each new law change proposed. This 'public select committee' would be similar to the exiting select committees of MPs, but because it is chosen randomly from the population at large, it's not so easily influenced in advance by powerful interests. This model is not incompatible with a house of representatives, which could function as an upper house, checking the draft law handed back by the select committees against things like human rights considerations.
This does sound interesting.

james g wrote:
Parliament (very sensibly IMHO) considered adding an exception to the law if the age difference was less than two years, and there was a massive public outcry because it spread around churches that the age of consent was to be abolished. That is to say there was a massive public outcry from people who were totally ignorant of what they were objecting to.

Public opinion prevailed, and we effectively got direct democracy in all its glory.
strypey wrote:
This is the outcome of representative government and majaority-rules. It has nothing to do with direct democracy, and arguably nothing to do with meaningful democracy of any kind. In this example, as mentioned above, the parliamentary monopoly on participation in real decision-making is a disincentive for people to bother getting their facts straight, or participate in open debate outside their own social networks. However, as your example illustrates nicely, it doesn't even provide effective consistent checks and balances against the ignorance that monopoly creates.

Your argument here reminds me of the way opponents of drug law reform often blame the existence of drugs for problems evidently caused by their prohibition.
I don't think representative democracy creates the ignorance here, I think we'd still have it if these sorts of decisions were made by referenda, rather I think we'd need a system that created an incentive for participation in debate, not merely one that doesn't create a disincentive.

kiwipeso wrote:
I believe that there should be a degree of direct democracy, and I will start to outline the system I've been thinking about below, as well as in other replies in this thread.
The most likely vector for achieving this might be for the pirate parties to adopt the system more widely, and demonstrate that it works well (assuming it does).


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 Post subject: Re: Direct Democracy
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:32 pm 

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Great! I wondered if I was going to get any replies at first. Good to see some discussion.

I agree that not everyone is going to want to participate in discussion on every issue, nor be able to make an informed decision. I see this being solved in a couple of ways.

1) The system has to incorporate a form of proxy voting. Maybe kiwipeso's ideas would be satisfactory.

2) If you want to take control of your own vote, you must first demonstrate that you understand the issue at hand. i.e. you have participated in discussion, watched online discussions, demonstrated knowledge etc.

I'm intrigued by the concept of 'demarchy'. This type of 'jury' could work as an effective default proxy vote. i.e. if you choose not to vote yourself or declare a proxy, then your vote is proxied to the decision of the jury.

I agree wholeheartedly that it would be better to focus more on research and debate rather that promises and preconceived ideas. This should be one of the points of a party that follows principles of direct democracy. Rather than presenting ideas and promises that require voters to align with you on all issues, the only promise is to host open research and debate on topics that concern the population, and allow them to make a choice.


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 Post subject: More on Demarchy
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Ardob wrote:
>> I'm intrigued by the concept of 'demarchy'. This type of 'jury' could work as an effective default proxy vote. i.e. if you choose not to vote yourself or declare a proxy, then your vote is proxied to the decision of the jury. <<

A more detailed proposal for how 'demarchy' could work is laid out in this article, which was my source for the idea:
http://www.indymedia.org.nz/article/800 ... ox-our-lot

I wrote:
>>> Wikipedia is not written by block voting on pre-framed options, but by collaborative editing. Similarly, direct democracy is more about participation in the framing and wording of a decision than it is about replacing voting for representatives with online voting or binding referenda or whatever. <<<

JamesG replied:
>> That being the case, I don't have anything against direct democracy. My impression from the use of the term has been that it generally refers to crowd sourcing ignorance, and this is what I'm not in favour of. <<

A lot of populists with agendas are running around advocating Binding Referenda using "direct democracy" as a buzz phrase. Binding Referenda are not direct democracy, they just another form of majority rule, where national agendas (and global ones via trade treaties like ACTA and the TPPA) can be imposed on communities and neighbourhoods from above. I agree with you that this is mobocracy and is a bad idea. I just don't agree it's fair to concede the term direct democracy to these efforts.

Some of the main supporters of Binding Referenda are redneck bigots who want to use majority voting to further disenfranchise and assimilate Maori, and roll back the significant progress which has been made on recognising the direct democracy principles that underpin Maori political lore, principles like mana whenua (local decision-making overrules national, not vice-versa) , and mana motuhake (the right to self-determination of individuals, communities, and nations with a country/ state).

JamesG wrote:
>> Well okay, fair enough, to an extent. Although I understand Parliament is generally fuller during the discussions before voting takes place. <<

Sure, but that's no guarantee that those turning up to vote have put in the time to understand the issue, or that they are paying any attention to the discussion, most of which seems to consist of immature point-scoring across the chamber. The classic example was the vote on Metiria Turei's medicinal cannabis bill, in which some tory matron stood up and said "You can't have people GROWING their own medicine". I thought that would be news to the Maori Party, whose people have been doing exactly that for hundreds of years. Yet, most of them voted with their National coalition partner against even letting the bill go to select committee, totally shutting the public out of the debate. "Representative" democracy at work.

Hei konei ra
Strypey

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 Post subject: Re: More on Demarchy
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:33 pm 
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strypey wrote:
The classic example was the vote on Metiria Turei's medicinal cannabis bill, in which some tory matron stood up and said "You can't have people GROWING their own medicine".


“Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food.” -- some old, dead guy..

We can't have people growing their own food, can we?!


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 Post subject: Re: Direct Democracy
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:28 pm 

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ardob wrote:
I also think there is a problem with PPNZ being viewed as a "one issue" party. You can dress it up anyway you like but as it stands today, it really is. As such I struggle to see PPNZ ever gathering enough support to get elected (and that has to be the ultimate goal right?).

If the 5% threshold is abolished and we run a tight (pirate) ship then I have no doubt we can be elected!

It would be a tougher ask however while it remains at 5% or 4% however :-s

Thus I encourage you to submit to the MMP review process NOW!

http://www.mmpreview.org.nz/

ardob wrote:
At the heart of PPNZ should always be the unyielding stance on protecting personal liberties, but for everything else, maybe there should be an adoption of a "Tell us what you think?" attitude.

That sums me up to a T!

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