May 25, 2004

we don't usually think of ourselves as an old country

but we actually have one of the oldest continuous Parliaments.

I remember being shocked when I read that on the back of a text book while studying - but in some ways it is true.

While we only became an independant country from the UK in the 1930s or 1940s (depending on whether you follow the date they told us to bog off or the date we finally accepted it in law), we have a Parliament which has sat without let or hinderance since 1854. Only a handful of other countries can say the same thing.

So, how come?

Well practically all of africa, asia the near east, and south america have had revolutions or wars in the last 150 years - each of them requiring a break between governmental systems. Australia and Canada have both federated since 1854 requiring an entire governmental rethink. The USA had a Civil war through the 1860s.

Practically all of Europe has been conquered in the last 150 (usually more than once) and there have been a large number of countries changing shape (for example Yugoslavia, Italy and Germany).

Jonathan Hunt points out were also the first country to offer full voting rights in 1893, which includes the important point that Maori could vote from a very early stage.

go us!

p.s. I'll be attempting to get into Westminster at some point to watch the Politicians - which will be interesting after the faux-bombing of Blair with purple flour. Hooray for accessible politicians.

p.p.s. okay so you could also point out that we tossed out the upper house in 1950, stopped having elections during the second world war, and probably didn't have much of a government until Seddon - or possibly Massey have it shape near the turn of the century. but that would be quibbling. :)

Posted by carla at May 25, 2004 06:14 AM
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