Kiwi Polemicist

November 19, 2009

• Democracy is dictatorship: a response to Bob McCoskrie’s letter

Today Bob McCoskrie of Family First has sent out a letter titled “A personal note from Bob McCoskrie“, where he states why he is going on The March For Democracy this Saturday (the background to all this is explained in my earlier post).

In his letter Bob shows how governments have repeatedly ignored the results of citizen-initiated referenda, including the latest one on the anti-smacking law. 1.57 million people voted against that law, while Peter Dunne (who voted for the anti-smacking law) says that a petition signed by 45,000 people who wanted daylight saving extended is ‘overwhelming support’. If 45,000 is overwhelming support, what on earth is 1,570,000?

After showing how the various referenda with strong results have been ignored, Bob says

I want NZ to be a place of DEMOCRACY not DICTATORSHIP

I do not wish to criticise Bob in any way, but apparently he, like 99.99% of people, does not realise that democracy is dictatorship by the majority. Allow me to explain.

87.4% of a representative sample of the population have voted against the anti-smacking law. If they have their way and the anti-smacking law is repealed (or amended) then that 87.4% of the population will be imposing their will upon the 12.6% of the population who want the anti-smacking law retained as it is. That is dictatorship by the majority.

Presently the government is in favour of retaining the anti-smacking law without changes, so it is ignoring what is commonly called the will of the people. That is dictatorship by the minority, i.e. the 122 politicians in parliament who think that they know best.

My point is this: democracy is always a dictatorship. The real question today is this: which dictator will decide what happens to the anti-smacking law? Presently Mr Minority (the government) is deciding. I believe that it is a lesser evil when Mr Majority (the 87.4%) decides what happens to the anti-smacking law, and that is why I will be marching on Saturday.


Have you ever wondered why this country is a mess and why we always have dishonest politicians? When you realise which majority is ruling NZ and appointing the politicians it will all make sense. The answers are in my post The problem with democracy – Part One.




  1. The problem is of course that it was NOT a mojority. It was only a majority of a minority. Less than 50% of the population thought it was worth voting in this referendum so what you is 87% of less than 50% of the popuilation. To representthis as anything else is quite simply a lie

    Comment by Joanne Perkins — November 20, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

    • Joanne: if my memory serves me correctly the voter ‘turnout’ was 55%. It was certainly similar to the turnout for the vote on MMP and greater than the turnout for local body elections.

      If anyone argues that the referendum on the anti-smacking law is considered invalid due to the voter turnout then they must also consider all local body election results to be invalid.

      Please note that in my article I said 87.4% of a representative sample of the population have voted against the anti-smacking law.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — November 21, 2009 @ 7:00 am

  2. KP
    You did indeed say 87% of a representative sample, but rgardless of whether that sample was less than 50% or 55% of the population it still leaves you with a minority of the population who voted to return to section 59 of the crimes act. Th people pushing this barrel however (i.e. Bob McCroskie et al) have never really acknowledged this in the ads or any of the other misinformation they spread over the last few months. There oare athor things to consider here as well. The CIR act only allowed for non-binding referenda, both major parties who voted for the law change stated prior to the referendum that they would not change the law so to expect them to do so is naive at best, stupid, perhaps at worst. Another issue that as been brought to the fore in this process is whether or not we should have Binding CIRs. If anyone thinks this a recipe for a working democracy they should take a look at California which is I think the 3rd largest economy in the world (Open to correction on this but it is up there). California is broke, it can’t pay its bills and much of what has been the business of the state (ie the ability to raaise taxes) has been taken away by the BINDING CIRs thay have in that state. That is true anarchy.

    I agree with your post on the right to silence however, good stuff


    Comment by Joanne Perkins — November 21, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  3. Joanne, You can argue that the “no” vote didn’t get a majority, but using your logic, that leaves us with a policy that’s supported by by about 6% of the country.

    Comment by scrubone — November 27, 2009 @ 11:13 am

  4. Don’t be silly. The US and the NATO nations aren’t dictatorships. If they were, the authorities would have told us.

    Comment by Jeremy — November 27, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  5. I agree with your point that representative democracy is a fraud. Small minds love it because they cannot conceive of another system. The argument that it wasn’t a majority because of low voter participation are not doing themselves any service because the low turnout is testimony to the low interest or cynicism people have towards the whole system. If they were given the opportunity for participation most would not know what to do with it.

    Comment by Andrew — March 16, 2010 @ 8:49 am

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