A research New Zealand poll found 61% of respondents support a four-year parliamentary term.
. . . Three-fifths (61%) of New Zealanders would support increasing the Parliamentary term from 3 to 4 years.
This was consistently supported across the regions.
Younger respondents were less in favour with 53% of 18 to 34 year olds in support compared to 62% of 35 to 54 year olds and 67% of those aged 55 years or older.
Forty percent would support the introduction of compulsory voting in New Zealand. There was strongest support from Aucklanders at 45%.
Twenty percent support lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years.
Not surprisingly, support was strongest amongst younger respondents, with support from 28% of 18 to 34 year olds, 23% of 35 to 54 year olds and just 11% of those aged 55 or older.
Male respondents were more in favour at 24% compared to females at 17%, and Wellington was the region most in favour with 29% support. . .
In one of the election debates National leader Judith Collins and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern found common ground in supporting a four-year term. Most other political parties prefer that option too.
If the views reflected in that poll are correct, the public is coming round to the idea of an extra year between elections too.
The Maxim Institute found three-year terms are very much in the minority internationally:
New Zealand’s House of Representatives is one of only seven parliamentary chambers with a term of three years. The others are
in Australia, Mexico, the Philippines, Qatar, El Salvador, and Nauru. . .
Australia, Mexico and the Philippines are bicameral.
Focusing on unicameral parliaments paints a similar picture, with the majority of countries surveyed favouring a four or five-year term. More specifically: fifty-three countries (46.9 percent) have a five-year term, and fifty countries (44.25 percent) have a four-year term.
Local Government New Zealand favours a four-year term:
. . . Newly elected president Stuart Crosby said there were high levels of frustration with the three-year term, and all the processes councils had to go through to make a decision.
He said three years was not enough time to get action on increasingly complex tasks.
Crosby said councils were going backwards faster than they were going forward.
“To get a decision made can take a long time, then a new council comes in and wants to review it so you take a step back before you go forward.
“That doesn’t happen on every decision but on the major, big strategic decisions I’ve seen it happen time and time again.” . .
The Taxpayers’ Union supports the idea, with a proviso:
“A four-year cycle would help to focus local councils on longer-term projects such as major infrastructure works. But the downside would be a loss of accountability: if voters elect a mayor or councillor who soon disgraces the office or breaks a major promise, we’ll be stuck with them for the full four-year term.”
“There’s a simple fix for this problem. Any extension of the electoral cycle should come with an option for recall election. This means that during the electoral term voters could petition to recall a representative. If enough signatures are gathered, a recall election is triggered for that position, meaning voters can replace a dysfunctional representative with someone more effective.”
“LGNZ has advocated for recall elections previously. If they’re serious about extending the electoral term, they’ll need to address justified concerns about democratic accountability. A recall option will serve this function well.”
The Taxpayers’ Union made the case for local recall elections in a recent briefing paper available at www.taxpayers.org.nz/recall_paper.
No-one is suggesting recall elections for central government and opposition to the proposal of a four-year term is usually based on the view we don’t have enough checks on governments and four years is too long to let them loose.
The answer to that would be to ensure there are more checks should a four-year term be enacted.
Three year terms are a handbrake on progress and productivity.
It takes at least the best part of a year for a new government to get up to speed, the second year some progress is made but everything slows down for the election and its aftermath in the third.
A one-term government is very rare in New Zealand, and most rule for three which means we effectively have a six or nine-year terms with a hiatus after three for an election.
Let’s save some money and increase government efficiency by having three elections every 12 years instead of four.