New Zealand republicanism is growing in support, but what difference does it make?
Below are the results from David Farrar’s recent blog post. Each year, the question was asked “What is your preference for New Zealand’s next head of State?”
|Next British Monarch||NZer elected by Parliament||NZer elected by popular vote|
There is little possibility, pretty much no possibility at all, that a New Zealand head of state would have any more power than the Queen/Governer General currently does- very little.
The Irish Republic provides the model for New Zealand, with a parliamentary system of government and an elected President as Head of State. The President does not exercise any executive functions and is obliged to act on the advice of his or her Ministers, in pretty much the same way as our Governor-General does now. The difference is of course that Uachtaran na hEireann (President of Ireland) is the supreme Head of State, elected directly by the people, not the representative of a foreign hereditary monarch at the other end of the world, as is our Governor-General.
Peter Dunne’s expectation above mirrors this. No sensible voter would wish for someone to have any more power, especially while observing the rise of Donald Trump and Putin.
So if there is no difference to the role, besides becoming democratically elected, is it worth worrying about? We’d have to spend money on the initial referendum (and we know how people react to the cost of democracy), and then every five years on another election. At least we wouldn’t have to pay for the extremely rare visits the Queen makes.
Then, if we were to hold a referendum on this issue, like Dunne suggests we do, it seems unlikely that such a constitutional issue would need a simple majority from those who voted. As many believed the flag change needed a supermajority, there’s little hope for any change out of a republicanism referendum. And of course, in those 3 years of planning, discussion, and debating he believes we need to have, there’s no doubt a year of that will be figuring out how to fit the treaty in all of this. The opposition will stir up concern over a referendum’s cost. “Nobody wants this”, they will cry, despite only 34% wishing to retain the monarchy. What will Winston Peters say?
Is the principle of democracy really worth all this hassle and cost? The dismissal of an outdated & archaic institution?
I’m not sure.