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Is it worth voting? – A debate for our times


Is it worth voting? – A debate for our times

In a world of ever-growing economic inequality and accelerating climate change, questions are being raised about the ability of the current political system to respond adequately to such complex challenges. Can a parliamentary system based on adversarial politics take significant action to re-distribute wealth and adopt a green economy, or have developments over the past few decades weakened the ability of law-makers to make the necessary radical changes to society? Does voting in a general election promise real change and democratic participation, or simply more of the same old party politics? What has happened to the major debates between Left and Right? Have these been replaced by a depoliticisation of political processes and their replacement by technical discussions about technocratic problems?

In a public debate chaired by Professor Kevin Clements (National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies), Dr David Clark (MP Dunedin North), Marian Hobbs (former Minister for the Environment), Dr Bryce Edwards (Politics Department, University of Otago), and Professor Richard Jackson (National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies) will explore whether the act of voting remains a meaningful exercise in democracy. Professor Jackson is clear in his position: “Voting is a largely meaningless ritual which expresses the form but not the content of democracy”, he says. “The political system is today largely incapable of helping us deal with climate change or inequality. Worse than that, the widespread belief that voting equals democratic participation actually infantilises and disempowers us as individuals. The idea that if we just vote for the right politician or political party, they will ride in to save us, is hopelessly misguided, in my view.”

On the other hand, the question remains: are there alternatives to voting? Can citizens participate meaningfully in politics apart from the current electoral system? Or, are there meaningful ways to reform the current political system to make it more responsive and responsible? The debate is open to all members of the public, and promises to be a lively and informative exploration of all these important issues.

When: 5:15pm, July 23, 2014
Where: Archway 2, University of Otago

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Gordon Campbell: On First Time Voting (Greens)

For the last two days, I’ve turned my column over to a couple of guest columnists who are first time voters. They’ve been asked to explain why they were voting, for whom and what role they thought their parental upbringing had played in shaping their political beliefs ; and at the end, to choose a piece of music. Today’s guest columnist is Ana Avia-O’Connor, who will be casting her first time vote on Saturday for the Greens.

If I didn’t know any better, it would seem the world has conspired for me to be a Green Party voter. Parents, Green voters? Check. Participation in bilingual education that stressed the importance of inquiry, solidarity and the Treaty? Check. Some sort of vegetarian leanings (seven years and counting, jus’ sayin’)? Check. However, above all of that, I’m voting Green because I believe in supporting the importance of every New Zealander’s contribution to Aotearoa, from the hairdresser in Foxton to the fisherman in Bluff. You could say that I like the cut of the Greens’ jib. More>>

 

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