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The Ten Great Reasons
The Monarchy New Zealand puts forward ten great reasons in its defence of the monarchy. This page responds to the "Just the facts" page, and puts forward our ten great reasons for a republic.
Monarchies are much more stable and far more successful at protecting democracy than republics.
Not true. Whether a country is politically stable has got little to do with whether it is a republic or a monarchy. A nation's political history, wealth and geographic location are more accurate indicators. The Economists' Democracy Index of the most democratic countries in the world, 13 of them are republics. Two, Finland and Iceland, out rank New Zealand. The Global Peace Index 2009 found 10 of the 20 most peaceful states are republics. The 2007 Freedom House survey of democracies found that of the 28 functioning democracies in the world, the majority (16 countries) were republics. The Global Peace Index 2009 found that 10 of the top 20 most peaceful countries were republics.
Trying to taint all republics by pointing to weak and failed examples (which are often just republics in name only) is silly and simplistic. New Zealand is politically stable and has an exemplary democratic record. We have high levels of wealth, education and literacy. Corruption is low; the rule of law is respected. Fairness and good governance are expected at all times. We share these traits with Switzerland (a republic) and Sweden (a constitutional monarchy).
New Zealand's monarchy has a team of three people working at the top level of government, not just the usual one or two.
No. The three people referred to, the Monarch, the Governor-General and the Prime Minister, are not a team. They do not work together and do not manage government business together. New Zealand is run primarily by the Prime Minister and cabinet. The cabinet is chosen by the New Zealand voters via their selection of the House of Representatives.
The Monarch and Governor General are duplicate roles and neither of them plays an active role in the maintenance of good government. The Queen is an absent head of state and is very seldom in New Zealand. The Queen's own website states on Her Majesty works as head of state of Britain and "represents Britain to the rest of the world." Both the Queen and the Governor General are figureheads with no effective power to control parliament or the government. It would be easier and cheaper to simplify this arrangement and remove one of the roles altogether.
Monarchies select their heads of state based on a fair and neutral process, not based on personal popularity, wealth, or through political scheming.
No. This statement is clearly false. The selection of the monarch is not a fair and neutral process at all. Members of only one family are eligible and the entire selection process is predetermined by a range of discriminatory practices. Unless we become a republic then Prince Charles will be the next Monarch. New Zealand voters currently have no say as to who the next head of state will be.
Overall, this type of argument is a cynical attempt to undermine the notion of a republic by characterising all political campaigns and elections as shallow and disreputable. It relies on the stereotype that all politicians and parliamentarians are all, ultimately, self-serving, dishonest and manipulative. It implies that if New Zealand were a republic, the head of state will have a lot of power, that he or she will be prone to corruption and/or that he or she will interfere in the running of government.
There is no reason to expect this. If the office of head of state has a clear constitutional role with powers and responsibilities well defined in law, then there is little chance the office's neutrality will ever being called into questioned. New Zealanders are fully able to elect good people to public office. Stereotyping parliamentarians and 'politicians' and denigrating democracy in this way does not encourage good political debate.
Monarchies are more gender balanced, multi-cultural, and inclusive than republics.
No. As with notions of political stability and democracy, it is problematic to link measures of gender equality to whether a country is a republic or monarchy. On gender balance republics outrank monarchies - of the top 20 countries in the world for gender gap, 11 are republics, including the first and second countries, Iceland and Finland.
As for multiculturalism, it is true that Governors-General within the Commonwealth are often from diverse ethnic backgrounds. However, this masks the reality that the Royal family is a culturally exclusive institution, based on primogeniture (that is, males first) and by design is limited to heterosexual English males. This means that for all the diversity of culture and gender at the Governor-General level, the constitutional apex is still held by a family of exclusively English extraction.
The claim republics are less diverse than monarchies in their leadership is simply not fact. Of the Republic of Ireland's 8 presidents, two have been women, two have been protestants (in a Catholic country) and one has come from Northern Ireland. India, a country with a number of deep religious and social divisions, currently has a female President, and has previously had three Muslims, and a Sikh President. Despite what the monarchists say, republics are culturally inclusive. The issue is, however, not who the head of state (or their conduit in the Governor-General) is, but how they got there.
In a world full of divisions and selfishness, New Zealand shares its head of state with 15 other countries.
This is another subjective claim. The world is divided by many things, but to argue that it is characterised by a sense of selfishness among nations is debatable. It could just as easily be argued that the world is linked by shared interests and by notions of co-operation and interdependence.
Irrespective of how the world is characterised, New Zealand is clearly a country that seeks out connection and agreement. Examples of this include New Zealand's membership of the United Nations, The Commonwealth, the Pacific Islands Forum, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, OECD, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Olympic Committee.
New Zealand is linked to all the other countries of the Commonwealth by our membership - regardless of whether we share their head of state. Having a head of state that divides her time between sixteen countries (and who prioritises, above all else, the affairs of the UK) does not work for New Zealand.
The Queen is a completely apolitical head of state. She represents all New Zealanders regardless of their political views. This cannot happen in a republic.
It is true the Queen is "apolitical" when it comes to New Zealand, but only because Her Majesty never intervenes in New Zealand politics - rendering the institution of monarchy as useless to New Zealand in any constitutional sense.
Our Governors-General are, however, political, and often make political statements and attempt to influence governments behind the scenes. However, since governments have no reason to listen to them, and the Governor-General has no real policy-making powers, they are often ignored.
The office of head of state exists to oversee the political process in accordance with constitutional law. In a parliamentary republic, the head of state is therefore a neutral political office. The person (or people) chosen for the role will be bound by law to uphold the responsibilities of the office. While they will have political viewpoints of their own these will be known to the public before they take office. Like all public servants the head of state will be obligated to put their own views aside in undertaking their official duties.
A person who demonstrates their ability to act objectively and make judgments independent of their own political preferences is more likely to be chosen as the head of state than someone who hasn't.
Monarchies have statistically proven to foster greater trust between citizens.
Try as we may we can't find any actual evidence that monarchies foster greater trust between citizens. There is evidence from studies by the UN that trust between citizens and their governments has substantially decreased over the last thirty years. This is the same for monarchies and republics.
Our monarchy is the least expensive political system available to the NZ taxpayers, and definitely provides the best possible value.
This claim simply isn't true. The 2010 Budget utterly disproves the claim - the Governor-General costs the New Zealand taxpayer around $7.6 million per annum. The President of Ireland, a country with about the same population as New Zealand and a parliamentary system of government, costs about $7.4 million per annum. The claim that the monarchy is cheaper is nonsense, as is the claim it's a better system of government and provides "best possible value", another subjective claim.
Monarchy is government by a person, for the people, not government by a document for a document.
This argument is an attempt to taint all republics as being like the United States, with a "written constitution". But when it comes to written constitutions almost every constitutional monarchy around the world is subject to a written constitution. Only the United Kingdom and New Zealand are without one, while the only republic in the world that has an unwritten constitution is Israel.
The monarchy adds more colour and ceremony to government. It is the art in government.
This is a vague argument but one often used. In essence it is a claim that pageantry ceremonies and traditions are an important part of the way parliament and government operates. Regular ceremonies (particularly those held at the opening and closing of parliament) are seen as links to the past. The celebrations, costumes and rituals are symbolic and used to invoke important historical and cultural values.
While all of this true, it is not the case that such things will disappear in a republic. Ceremonies, traditions and rituals that express our shared history will still be important but rather than relying on British traditions they will reflect the wider diversity in the New Zealand experience.