Saturday, 12 March 2011

getting a mandate

An old friend of mine who had a very keen interest in politics and history used to say that this idea of a 'mandate' is not part of the Westminster system.
Although it is a word much used, indeed over-used, these days I am often reminded of that thought. His point was that in the Westminster system you elect a party to govern not to implement a limited list of policies.
I tend to agree, particularly in this fast changing world. It simply is not possible or desirable to present the electorate with a finite list of policies which are going to be worked through one by one.
If these last few months have shown us anything it is that circumstances change. Neither party sought a mandate to pour billions of dollars into Queensland or Victoria. Neither could have foreseen that it would be necessary ...but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be doing it.
They have no 'mandate' per se...but they do have the responsibility to govern.
If the electorate is to tick every single policy off then we are hamstringing any government. They need to be able to govern for the country's good.
The mechanism to check the excesses of this is the Parliament, and indeed a balanced Parliament like the one we have now is probably better equipped to check excesses than at many other times in our past. The Liberals may not like this, and indeed Labor may not like it...but many people, myself included, were not so concerned about individual policy mandates as ensuring that the process of government happens well

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