Representative Democracy in an Age of Inequality
why legal reforms are needed to protect New Zealand’s system of government
Keywords:economic inequality, political inequality, political donations, party finance, corruption, representative democracy
New Zealand’s system of government is vulnerable to undue influence and distortion by private wealth. Our legal framework contains no limits on domestic political donations (including donations from corporations and lobbyists), weak disclosure standards for political financing, no political expenditure limits outside the election period, insufficient regulations on lobbying and the revolving door between public and private employment, and few meaningful regulations on conflicts of interest. Given the nation’s high level of wealth concentration, these vulnerabilities pose a critical threat. Comprehensive electoral reforms are required to prevent economic inequality from becoming politically entrenched and representative democracy from being undermined.
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