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The Olympic Games that we watch on television today are very different to the original games.

The first records of the Olympics are from the year 776 B.C in Ancient Greece, (but most historians think it stared way before then) that’s around 2300 years ago! These are called the Ancient Olympics. 

They were a religious festival celebrating Zeus. For the first 13 Games, only one athletic event was even held, which was a 180-ish metre running race that was won by a cook! 

Later, events such as wrestling and javelin were introduced. The Games were only competed in by men. You may have also heard about the story that they ran naked. That is true! Some say that it was to intimidate other contestants, to show Zeus (the Greek god that the games were dedicated to) how powerful they were, or that the nudity started when somebody lost their shorts in a race, and some say that it was the Spartans who introduced nudity.

Either way, it happened! Thankfully, athletes wear clothes at the modern Olympics! 

America, home to 328.2 million people. 

Every four years, all the adults out of that 328.2 million people vote in the presidential election. In the 2020 election, the two people running for president are Joe Biden and the current president, Donald Trump. Currently the polls say that Joe Biden is in the lead, but the polls aren’t always right. For example, in 2016 Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump despite being ahead in the popular vote. BUT there is one person who thought that Donald Trump would win in 2016… in fact, he was certain. BUT HOW? Allan Jay Lichtman is an American historian who not only looks at the past, but the future as well. 

“history tell us that voters are not fooled by the tricks of the campaign” says Allan Lichtman in a video with the New York times. He says that voters will vote depending on how well the current president has run the country. If the polls are supposedly worthless, how has he been predicting the winners of the presidential election for 40 years? That’s right, and he’s gotten it right EVERY SINGLE TIME! He and Vladimir Keilis-Borok (an expert in predicting earthquakes) came up with a system inspired by earthquake research.  

This system is called “the keys to the White House”. Allan Lichtman has written a book about them, but we’ll give you the short version. There can be two different outcomes, stability where the party currently holding the White House stays there, and earthquake, when the opposing party takes over. Allan and Vladimir looked at every presidential election from the year 1860 (160 years ago!) to 1980 and they came up with 13 keys. They have gotten them right every year since.  

OK, let’s go over what he covers in the video. Remember if the question answers true, it favours the reelection of the current White House party. If six or more answer false, you get a “political earthquake” 

  1. Party Mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections. – FALSE 
  1. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination. – TRUE 
  1. Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president. –  TRUE 
  1. Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign. – TRUE 
  1. Short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign. – FALSE 
  1. Long-term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms. – FALSE 
  1. Policy change: The incumbent administration affects major changes in national policy. – TRUE 
  1. Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term. – FALSE 
  1. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal. – FALSE 
  1. Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs. – TRUE 
  1. Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs. –FALSE 
  1. Incumbent (party) charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero. – FALSE 
  1. Challenger (party) charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero. – TRUE 

That means that the keys predict that Trump will lose the White House. But at the end of the day, its up to america.  

Last week we looked at what an election was, and we covered the first part of the election – the party vote. Now, we will look at the second vote, the electorate vote. 

New Zealand is divided into voting groups called electorates. Each electorate has roughly the same amount of people. While each electorate will have around the same number of people, the geographical, or amount of land in the electorate might not be the same. 

For example, an electorate in a rural area might take up a larger area of land than an electorate in a city where people live closer together. However, both electorates will still have about the same number of people. 

When you enrol to vote, you are enrolled in the electorate where you live. Every general election all the eligible people in New Zealand vote for a candidate to represent your electorate in parliament. 

If you are from Maori descent you can choose to vote in the Maori electorate instead of the general electorate, and both are based on about the same population and a set geographic area. This is the electorate vote. 

The ancient Greeks of Athens (one of the first societies to have a democracy) had a much smaller population, so nearly every decision was voted on by everyone. We, however, are NOT ancient Greeks.  Our country runs on a representative democracy, we elect people to vote for us. But sometimes there are things that are considered so important or controversial that all the eligible adults of New Zealand get to vote directly on it. These are referendums. 

This year, New Zealand has two referendums: the end of life choice and the cannabis legalisation and control referendums. These are yes or no questions, you don’t have to vote on them, but it is your chance to have a say in some very important issues. Enrolled voters get brochures about the referendums so they can be fully informed before they vote.  

Now, what are 2020s referendums?  

  1. End of life choice referendum: 

This is where you can vote on whether you think people with terminal illness should have the choice to request assisted dying.  

  1. The cannabis legalisation and control referendum: 

This is where you can vote on whether you think the recreational use of cannabis should become legal. 

In New Zealand our government is a representative democracy. A representative democracy is when all the eligible people in New Zealand elect representatives to Parliament to speak for us on government issues. 

This means that the adults of New Zealand get to vote on the different parties’ and people in parliament. These people in parliament decide who the prime minister is. 

But to have a representative democracy, New Zealand must have elections. To elect someone means to choose them for a specific position by vote. In New Zealand, we use MMP (meaning mixed-member proportional) as our voting system. MMP is what we use to choose people and parties who will represent us in parliament.  

Under MMP, adults get two votes, we will focus on the first vote- the party vote. The party vote determines how many seats (members of parliament) each party with take up in parliament. Say a party gets 27% of the party votes in New Zealand, they take up around 27% of seats in parliament. 

A party must have at least 5% of New Zealand’s party votes to get seats in parliament unless somebody from their party wins an electorate seat- (which is determined by the second vote under the MMP system).