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EFFECTIVE VOTING, Issue 15708, 23 January 1915
LESSONS OF THE ELECTION
[By Conservativk-Democbat. ]
Proverbially figures can be made, ta.. prove anything, ami probably election figures lend them selves to the . purposes of the partisan more readily than do any others; but even election figures cannot lie separated from tho facts with which they are associated. This much, at lea-st, can be said for the returns of the recent General Election, which are made particularly interesting by the fact that they represent for the first time since the appear-ance-of the Labor party in New Zealand public life the result of a, contest between two well-defined parties without the intrusion of serious political side issues, and consequently without the wide prevalence of vote-splitting. Whatever Mr Massey's object may have been in repealing the. second ballot—-arid there is no reason to assume it was not an entirely disinterested one—there can to no doubt that the disappearance of the measure from the. Statute Book has had the effect of consolidating the political forces. This i'a.ct was abundantly demonstrated during the recent election, when the Liberal and Labor party were brought closer together than they had been for many years, and the Reform party realised iOnad little to gain from divisions anions its opponents. All the parties had. learnt wisdom from the operation of the second ballot, and to this extent the experiment had served a useful purpose. —The Country's Verdict. It follows that the polling jast month gave a better indication of the party feeling of the country than we had had for a. decade, and the official, figures which, have just been published enable us to examine tho result in some detail. There were 515,905 votets polled, in the 76 European constituencies, and of these. 243,476 were cast for Reform candidates, 219.617 for Liberal candidates, and 52,812 for Labor candidates. As most of the Labor candidates received the support of the Liberal party, and all of them were pledged to vote against the Government on a " no-confidence" motion, it will be sufficient in this cursory analysis to divide the votes into two sections—those cast for the. Government and those cast for the Opposition. Adopting this arrangement, it is found that 243,476 votes were given to the Government and 272,429 to the Opposition, or a majority of 28.953 to the party cut of office That was the verdict of* the country, but it wr.t< not evact.lv the verdict of the polls, simply because 76 isolated constituencies can represent only approximately the opinion of the whole. At present the. Government, rounding the IDuncdin Central .seat as won by Mr Statham. has 39 members in the new House of Representatives, while the Opposition has 37. If Mr Munro should win the Dunedin «eal the parties uill be equal, each holding 3R seats. —A Happy Change.— Considering all its possibilities for evil, the friends of democratic Government should be thankful that the clumsy system of election which produced these results did no worse. ]f it had operattd in the South Island as it did in the North Island the party in a minority of 28.953 in the country would have been given a majority of eight or nine in the House. In the North Island, with 147.993 votes, the Government secured 26 seats, while the Opposition, with 148,072 votes secured only 16 scats. How this came about may be gathered from a glance at the returns for the Taranaki, Stratford, Egmont. Patea, and Wanganni electorates, wl-ncli arft grouped tojietVieT as one constituency in Mr FowUls's Proportional Representation Bill. In these electorates 15,886 votes were cast for Liberal and Labor candidates, and 15,556 for Tteform candidates, and yet four scats went to the Government and only one to the Opposition. This, of course, was due to the fact that the division of the electorates, for which neither party was responsible, had left the Reformers with a majority in each of the four electorates and the Liberals with a minority, which was extinguished by its majority, in the fifth electorate. The same thing occurred in several other districts, notably in North of Auckland, where the electorates of Bay of Islands. Marsden. Kaiapara, and Waite.mata, with 11,093 Liberal voters and 15,850 Reform voters, returned four Reform candidates, and in North Waikato, Manawatu, and Wairarsipa. —Making Even. —
But it must, not be imagined that all the luck of the election was on one side. Even in the North Island the Liberals avpre extremely fortunate in securing all four of the seats on t"ho East Coast— Bay of Plenty. Gisborne. Howke's Bay. and Napier —with 37.667 votes, when their opponents -polled 13,198 votes. This means that while each 4,417 Liberals in the district had a representative in Parliament, the 13,193 Reformers have none. But it was in parts of the South Island that Dame Fortun'e made amends to the Opposition for the scurvy fashion in which she had treated it in the North. With its 124.357 votes, which entitled, it to 19 seats, it, -was given 21. while the Government, with its 95,485 votes, which entitled it to 15 seats, was given only 13. It was Canterbury that, evened up the balance. This province, including Waitaki. polled 95.227 votes. 58.856 for the. Opposition and 36.371 for the. Government, and under an equitable systemof election would have returned nine members to support Sir Joseph Ward and five to support Mr Masscy. but under the system that exists it contributed 12 members to the Opposition side of the House and only two to the Government side. Thus, as Sir Joseph Ward put it the. oilier day, one injustice whs balanced by another, and again our electoral system was saved from utter discredit by the. multiplication of its blunders. Canterbury Liberals squared the. account with the." Taranuki Ttefonners. and other electors repaired the errors of their fellows in the same haphazard way. —The Remedy,— Til'? obvious rernedy for this state of affairs, which is a. reproach to the. country arid a disgrace lo its politicians, is Proportional Bcpresentatiori. Four decades atro Sir Fredeiick Whilaker was advocating this reform and receiving the cordial support of broad-minded. n''en like .Mr John Balance. Sir John Hall. Mr William Hoilesion, and Mr Alfred Saunders: but iil! ■' was taken, up in earnest by the Labor paitv two or'three years ago it, found huh; favor villi the great mass of the people, mainly because the, party in power was afraid to disturb the basis on which ite a.-h-antaire rested, -and the party seeking office was always dreaming of opportunities to come. Now, however, it has been brouaht, within the sphere _of practical politics by Mr Masscy applying it. *o tiv Lcjii.'lative Council and Sir Joseph Ward including it in his party platform._ Probably both these gentlemen were inspired by'the agitation initiated by the L.tbor party, but whether the credit is dm 1 iu thisparty nr that, or to the, party leaders, eveiv elector who is concerned for his own rights and for the effective government of the countrv should insist with all the empiiasis of liis voice and his vote, upon a. change in our electoral system that, would give us a Parliament, really representative. o< the people and an Executive qualified io speak on behalf of the whole Dominion.
--What It Would Mean.—'ihe value of the reform cannot Itindeed, and ought not, to be judged, by the "benefit it would confer upon one party or upon the other. At tht recent election it, -would have given both parties exactly the measure of representation to which ihey vrm «ntitled, and much less disarpcihtm*nt and bittorness would have r-?-ji.tined behind. Th« Liberals of Taranaki and tha Reformat'* of Canterbury would iir.va hud no cau*« for complaint, tht serieible peopl* among them would bar." made no complaint, if they had been beaten in a lair fight under equitable conditions. It is the injustice of being disfnuichifJd. thev are resenting. Under Proportional Representation, even with the comparatively email constituencies proposed in Mr Fowkls's Bill, and, it is understood, contemplated by Sir Joseph Ward, no ease of the kind could arise. jropnr'iona l Representation means effec-
tive voting, not 50 per cent, of incfTccKv* voting, nrfd effective voting means making the best possible use of the brains and hearts of the whole community instead of accepting <i. smaller service from what may hi an arrogant majority or an ■unsympathetic minority. It. is the greatest political reform "in sight to-day, .affecting every department of public life and every avenue of social development, and one well worthy of the highest effort of an. a.v aliening nntion.
EFFECTIVE VOTING, Issue 15708, 23 January 1915
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