Democracy: Democracy and New Zealand Essay

Submitted By luicm
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Pages: 4

What are the main features of a democracy? Explain why New Zealand is considerable to be a democracy?

This essay will define democracy and identify its main features. It will then examine democracy practise in New Zealand against these features before reaching a conclusion that New Zealand is a democracy country.
Democracy has been defined by Heywood “rule by the people”. He points out that this definition “implies both popular participation and government in the public interest and can take a wide variety of forms (Heywood 2007, p.448). Also, democracy is referred to the liberal democracy which is the broadest accepted form of democracy (Heywood, 2007).
There are variety of democratic forms, “direct” and “representative”. In a direct democracy, all citizens have initiatives to decide policies through attending conversation or voting which “without the intermediary of elected or appointed officials, can participate in making public decisions.” (Democracy in Brief, Washington D.C: U.S. Department of State [Abridged]). With the bigger and more complex city states, direct democracy is no longer exists. However, some countries use referendums to pass executive decisions or laws. Country citizens give a direct vote to accept or reject the proposal or idea. “It is a direct vote (you are not voting for a political party).”(Heywood, 2007) For example, the state of California often uses referendums which reveals a limited democracy. Representative democracy (or liberal democracy) is opposed of direct democracy. In terms of Heywood’s saying, “citizens do not govern. Instead, they ‘vote’ for another person to ‘represent’ them”. It implies people choose someone to govern country and it is based on competitive and regular election. “We do this by voting for Members of Parliament as our representatives.” (Heywood, A. 2007). In this case, all adult citizens are equal and they have rights to stand for election no matter whether they are different of race, color, sex or religion. Nevertheless, it enquires no corruption and citizens have freedom of speech are protect by government. Therefore, these two types of democracy are obvious to reflect a country’s reign and framework.
According to Robert A Dahl’s description of New Zealand’s government “New Zealand is a mature democracy, one of only twenty-two countries in the world that have been steadily democratic since 1950.” (How Democratic is the American Constitution, 2001, p.164). Hence, New Zealand is considerable to be a democracy country. Besides, the Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected. “In a representative democracy that is what legitimates the power they exercise.” (Bridled power: New Zealand’s Constitution and Government, Fourth Edition, p.138). It has electoral system which is called “Mixed-member proportional” (MMP). Under MMP each voter has two votes that one for a representative in their electorate and one for the political party every three years. In New Zealand, The Electoral Act 1993 specifies citizens can vote. Also, “Everyone has the right to present a petition and it is Parliament’s function to consider the petition and make recommendation to the government about what should be done.”…