"No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time." - Winston Churchill
Ian Sutton wrote:I'd also be interested in Sue/Neils comments on NZ politics with the added complexity of the Maori representation, but also how a multi-party political climate works in practice.
I can't comment on the NZ situation, but we have a multi-party system here in Canada. Like your two-party system, it has its pros and cons.
Right now, we have a minority Conservative government that resulted after the fall of a Liberal minority government.
A minority scenario usually requires the government work with the opposition, which in theory works in the best interests of Canadians.
Right now, the Conservatives seem to be doing well. Without a majority, they have shelved the radical social-conservative policies, instead focusing on fiscal policy, stronger accountability measures, tax reductions, increased support for our woefully neglected military - things most people can support.
They recently introduced environmental legislation, but when the leftist New Democratic Party threatened a confidence vote (which could bring down the government) they agreed to put the bill to a committee for more work - the expected result being stronger measures to protect the environment.
The New Democrats also supported a recent Conservative tax policy.
Of course, the multi-party system creates some bizarre bedfellows (as above), particulary with the separatist Bloc Quebecois. They don't run candidates outside the province of Quebec and their main ambition is an independent Quebec outside of Canada. Politically, their members run the full spectrum, but in Parliament they tend to vote to the left.
Quebec's population is one of the largest in Canada and up until a few years ago they were the nation's Official Opposition party. Go figure - a separatist party representing the entire country.
Canadians don't register as Americans do - Republican, Independent or Democrat. And though as a country we tend to lean a little left of centre, I think we're not as tied to one party or another.
Of course, there's always problems with vote-splitting resulting in a party becoming a majority government without receiving a majority of the popular vote. For years, the Conservatives were dogged with this problem.
In fact, their history is one of splintering the right. The Conservatives and the Progressives formed the Progressive Conservatives (an oxymoron, I know). More recently a group of the PCs splintered into the far-right Reform Party, which then morphed into the Canadian Alliance, before rejoining with the PCs to form the current Conservative Party of Canada.
Whew, that's a lot to follow.
Anyway, I've gone on enough. But from my experiences and observations, I prefer the multi-party system.