A BROKEN POLITICAL SYSTEM? January 21, 2010Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
If we found that our parliaments do not represent public opinion and members of parliament do not represent the people who vote for them,would we then conclude that the system was broken, especially when parliament is controlled by the executive.
In other words, members of parliament are unconsciousable, as are many of the laws that are passed, especially as subsidiary legislation. Decisions have been made to go to war, with the implicit violence, murder and human cruelty that implies but without a free vote on the question but rather a complicit vote that makes consent subject to pre-selection.
In a representative democratic system it is generally supposed that political parties are necessary to engage in interest aggregation and all the other things that political science suggests are necessary to make the system work. As electorates steadily increase in populations – they now average at the federal level around 90,000 to 100,000 – the sense of locality and immediacy is lost as the need for mass communications increases, with increased emphasis on the branding of the party and especially the leader. There are two consequences: executive control is re-enforced and parties become more dependent on corporate financing, and perhaps more subject to influence of special interest groups and lobbyists, and thus less influenced by public opinion.
So what is to be done? How can democratic institutions be reformed and the civic culture improved?
Gary at Public Opinion comments on the changing of the political guard. I would have thought the issue is particularly stark in NSW with the change of premiers and the exposure of backroom power exerted by the party fractional leaders, who in some cases are more backroom operators, the party power brokers, more than they are politicians, people representing their constituents in a representative democracy.