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Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 5. Monday, April 29, 1963

Election Time

page 2

Election Time

As election time comes round again, political parties are prolific.

And this fact, In the main, is a sign of a healthy democracy—or as healthy as the present form of democracy can be.

The National Party's prospects are difficult to assess. On the one hand, the electors see the good work of Justice Minister Hanan—the ombudsman, slow relaxation of antique licensing laws, abolition of the death penalty. Little matter that he has not bothered to keep the Bill of Rights promise.

Less fortunate are the public pronouncements of Labour Minister Shand. He has been prone to sound off in a provocative, often ill-founded way, so alienating a large section of the public. One good point: he is refreshing after the guarded, cautious statements that usually tumble from ministerial lips.

Prime Minister Holyoake's "cult of personality" (for example, the "call me Kiwi" catch-phrase) has little effect on the electorate, sickening as many people as it impresses.

Now that ageing Socialist Nash has faded into the political sunset, the Labour Party will be in a strong election position under the capable leadership of bright, brainy Arnold Nordmeyer. Nordmeyer, a financial whiz, is giving his party the "new look" treatment which may win back some of the beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking public whose support he lost in 1958.

Substantial contributions to the nation's funds will be made by Social Credit, Liberal and Communist candidates. Though the Socreds will probably sweep away the Hobson seat, most other candidates may forfeit election deposits.

But the fact that these parties, however objectionable they may be to tight-minded New Zealanders, are in existence is a good sign. When all minority groups disappear and only the mammoth party organisations remain, democracy's raison d'etre is doubtful. For, when all is considered, the choice at elections is between six of one party and half-a-dozen of the other.

Or is democracy, as Shaw put it, only substituting the rule of the incompetent many for that of the corrupt few?