Letter: Reforming lessons from the New Zealand election

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The Independent Online
Mr SIMON OSBORN

Sir: Mark Lawson's excellent article 'Labour astray in New Zealand' (8 November) reveals some lessons of that country's vote on electoral reform. What is so surprising is that neither National Party's Jim Bolger nor Labour's Mike Moore thought voting reform a big enough issue to support it.

Reform won a majority with 54 per cent backing. By comparison, Messrs Bolger and Moore could only attract a third of the votes each. It is not as if they did not know of the potential of electoral reform. Last year, after the first stage of the referendum process when change won 84 per cent of the vote, Mr Moore said: 'The people didn't speak on Saturday. They screamed.' As late as the week before polling day, eight out of ten Kiwis were telling the pollsters that no politicians would honour their promises.

An electorate that says this wants to lash out against the whole system. Just as they did in Italy in April and as the Japanese did this summer. Political reform is popular at the moment. So why did the major parties in New Zealand go into the election opposing reform?

Perhaps we in Britain should dwell on this? After all, the United Kingdom's electorate is also showing signs of unrest. County council elections this year, the European elections next?

Yours sincerely,

SIMON OSBORN

Electoral Reform Society

London, SE1

9 November

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