I have just heard a rumour that the election date will be announced within the next 12 hours. Hopefully it will turn out to be true because mindless speculation about the date has been raging for months now. Just thought I’d share that with you all, to make me look like an idiot when it is not announced by Helen till November 14.
Which brings me to the idea of fixed date elections. The Canadians legislated for them in 2006. The Canadian Elections Act requires their federal election to be held on the third Monday in October every four years, starting with October 19, 2009.
I’m somewhat hopping on Colin James’ bandwagon here. Early in the month he wrote:
“If Key wants to play the democrat, he could recognise the electorate’s wisdom and commit to fixed election dates and propose a binding referendum on that.”
After the MMP symposium I attended earlier in the week, and hearing Nigel Roberts dismiss the idea of even needing a referendum about MMP, I also think that we don’t need a referendum, we just need a Prime Minister and a government who possess the cojones to make it so.
The liberal Democrat party in Britain tried to pass a Private Members bill earlier this year on the issue, but it was blocked by the Labour controlled House of Commons. Lib Democrat MP David Howarth said:
“The incumbent only has to wait for a few favourable polls and call an election within a three-and-half-week period and then is rewarded with another five years in power. That means that politics is rather more a matter of luck than performance.”
This would mark a move away from the traditional Westminister model where the Prime Minister has the power to request an election. It would mean that the ruling party and the PM do not have any advantage in timing when the polls suit them. Working fixed election dates along side the Electoral Finance Act would also be make for a clearer system, in that we could possibly reduce the duration of time the EFA is in effect, rather than just the entire ‘election year’.
We shouldn’t have to wait, and we shouldn’t have to have all this idle banter (Duncan Garner listing all the possible election dates while standing in front of parliament, and then giving the pros and cons about each date simply is not news) about when we think the election is going to be. In the interests of open, transparent and democratic government we should know when the election is going to be.
So I do hope this rumour is true. How I lust for the sound a lone politician on the hustings.