08 September 2011

Ask the people

Watching Back Benches last night, I was puzzled by Rahui Katene's view on the situation in Fiji.

"What's so great about democracy?" she asked fellow bencher Stuart Nash, as she made the case that democracy wasn't necessarily the right system for every nation, and we shouldn't try to impose it on Fiji as that would be bullying.

Katene did, however, think that the Fijians should be asked what they wanted. Presumably she thinks the whole adult population should be asked, and have an equal say. After all, if you only ask a limited segment, such as the group currently in charge or a specified ethnic group, then you're already prejudging how things should be run, which is what you want to avoid.

Perhaps Katene has in mind only a one-off consultation of the people, and thereafter they're stuck with whatever form of government and group of people they choose to run the place. But it would be an odd notion to value the view of the people only on a onetime basis, thereafter locking in whatever decision they made, even to later generations, no matter how the people they chose to lead them behaved. So more likely she has no objection to some kind of ongoing 'touching base' with the people she wants to consult.

So Katene wants some sort of repeated, universal consultation of the will of the people of Fiji in how their nation should be run, and who should run it.

While the operational details vary from case to case, there is a type of system that broadly fits what she's after.
It's called democracy.