Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Fixed Election Terms?

David Farrar approves of a NZ Herald article that argues for fixed election terms as happens in the US and Germany. There is a slight hiccup with the article's facts in that Germany can have shorter parliamentary terms as Gerhard Schroeder has recently proposed, it's just that the decision to do so rests in the Bundestag rather than the Chancellor. However the US parallel is still sound.

While the benefits of the move have been highlighted, nobody in the comments seems to have discussed what impact it will have on the way the government does business. It's an important convention of our government that it must always be in supply - failure to secure parliamentary funding is grounds for an early election. Now if you have a minority government that has just lost confidence of the House and the opposition is fragmented among several parties that cannot agree upon an alternative government, then there will be a period of stalemate in which the government will shut down (as has happened in the US during the Clinton administration). What should the solution be? Should the government resort to maple syrup republic portfolio patronage in order to regain confidence?