New Zealand will go ahead with a referendum on its flag. In fact, two referenda, following a similar process to the electoral-system referenda that the country has held in 1992-93 and again in 2011: an initial selection from several choices, followed by a later binary choice between the status quo and the proposed change.* Both would be held in 2016. From ABC:
The first, at the end of next year, would ask the public to choose a preferred design from those selected by a panel of notable New Zealanders.
The second referendum would pit the winning new design against the current flag in 2016.
Stuff NZ has an image of one possible alternative, which retains the Southern Cross in addition to a fern. Another that is a silver fern on black has been widely discussed.**
The political parties will recommend members of “a cross-party panel”, and public consultations will follow, to select the options to be put to voters.
Questions for readers: Aside from the obvious (and, by all accounts, wildly successful) Canadian case, are there other democratic countries that have undertaken a major flag re-design?
There are, of course, numerous cases of authoritarian governments that have changed their country’s flag unilaterally. And, new democratic states have needed to adopt a flag (India, Israel, etc.). But ongoing democracies do not change their flags often. I can’t think of another case aside from Canada, but maybe someone else can.
An aside: is there any notable debate about the flag in Australia? Or other long-term democracies that anyone can report?
* But apparently without the first referendum having a simple “keep or change” option in addition to a set of “change” possibilities. In the 2011 electoral-system referendum, the “keep MMP” option passed, rendering the choice among alternatives moot. Thus the second-stage referendum was not held, unlike 1992-93.
** Which, to me, looks too much like the national rugby team’s banner. Or that of ISIS.