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Democracy Fails Again

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Well, the New Zealand general election is over and, as expected, the center-right National party has been easily returned to lead the new government. That was no surprise to anyone but it was perhaps the only result which wasn’t surprising because there were a lot of other unexpected outcomes.

New Zealand First provided the biggest surprise by getting 6.8% of the vote. So Winston Peters has done it again despite John Key’s best efforts to discredit him. And it’s good to see Winston back in parliament. No matter what else you think of him, he is a real character, plus he actually has some quite worthwhile policies.

Act failed miserably. Despite gaining one seat through the rather unsavoury agreement between them and National, which effectively meant Act only existed because National let them. The Act leader, Don Brash, resigned as leader and perhaps this time he might finally realise that not only is he just not the right type of person for politics but his far right policies are just not wanted by the voting public.

The Greens exceeded their target of 10% (compare that with the opposite extreme of the political spectrum where Act aimed at 10 and got 1) and it looks like they might become a genuine long-term option in the future.

The Maori Party suffered the almost inevitable fate of small parties who get too friendly with a bigger one and lost a lot of support. Why they would ever have entertained the idea of teaming up with National is beyond me. Do they really want to commit political suicide?

So National superficially seem to have a mandate for their agenda of right wing privatisations and nasty social changes. But they don’t really. Many polls show the people of New Zealand don’t want asset sales, and the pathetic turnout (for New Zealand) of under 70% of eligible voters hardly represents a real mandate.

It’s rather depressing that so many people didn’t vote (over one million which is a lot for a small country) even though I can see why. Many on the right would have assumed a victory so perhaps not voting seemed OK. And the left equally assumed a defeat and might not have voted for that reason. But under MMP no battle is ever lost and everyone should have voted. If everyone had voted the right would probably not have the power they do now.

It seems to me that people didn’t vote for National or for right oriented policies, they voted for John Key. For some reason people really like him. Actually I did when he first became our prime minister too but I was astute enough to soon realise that appearances can be deceptive.

Phil Goff in comparison just didn’t really connect with the public and it didn’t really matter who had the better policies because that’s just not what people were voting on.

National also had the advantage of experiencing some bad luck during their time in power. First there was the continuing global financial crisis then the Christchurch earthquakes. Even though they were average at best in how they handled those that was enough.

So we had a low turnout and even the people who did vote probably voted for poor reasons. It looks like democracy fails again!

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