Christine Willmot, Sunrise
Thanks Echo, for getting worthy successors for the Mungo Comment space. Margo Kingston, for instance, in a recent op-ed piece (Echo, 26 May), reminded readers of the potential of independent political candidates to strike a way through the dreaded two-party system.
Using the example of Cathy McGowan and Zali Stegall she points out that, by not being beholden to party lines or to wealthy donors, a multi-issue independent candidate will be more inclined to actually serve and empower her or his electorate. And the added benefit is that such independents are often put forward and closely supported by the people of their electorates themselves, thereby encouraging grass roots democracy.
This requires that voters educate themselves about the political issues that affect them, and about the way the preferential system works. Most importantly they are ‘prepared to work together across party lines to find common ground’.
This motivation of voters to participate more in the process is surely the secret to the renewal of our democracy. Increased interest in independents has given rise to the ‘Voices For’ movement mentioned by Margo, which are mentoring groups across the country and helping them to choose ‘Indy’ candidates.
Admittedly, in the larger picture, it’s not known how effective different independent candidates widely spread across the country would be in government; however, the buzz and effort to support an independent candidate would surely raise the level of debate, especially in a small community, and help to loosen the bitter tribalism of the major parties, including that between Labor and the Greens. Perhaps the result might be that actual policies – supported and refined by independent voices – rather than parties, would be the winners of elections!
All this is food for thought with elections both local and federal coming up in the near future.