Ask not what politics can do for you

A million people who could have voted didn’t.

Turnout dropped by just over 90,000, from 79.5 per cent of those on the rolls in 2008 to 73.8 per cent.

Except for an anomaly in 1978 when the rolls were inflated by outdated and duplicate entries, this was the lowest percentage turnout since 1887, when 67.1 per cent of those on the rolls voted. That was before women won the right to vote in 1893.

Moreover, only an estimated 93.2 per cent of the 3,276,000 people who were eligible to vote were enrolled, so the 2,254,581 people who did cast their votes (including special votes) leaves just over 1 million who stayed at home.

 

23 voter turnout 2011 election campaign NZ Politics Daily - Bryce Edwards Otago University liberation blog - www.liberation.org.nz

Among the reasons given by those who didn’t vote were not knowing enough about what parties and candidates were offering and none of them offering what the non-voters wanted.

The best way to address both issues is to understand your own philosophy and principles, find the party which best matches them, get involved with it and take an active part in its policy development.

Those wanting to be engaged shouldn’t be asking what politics can do for them but what they can do for a politics.

11 Responses to Ask not what politics can do for you

  1. Andrei says:

    The best way to address both issues is to understand your own philosophy and principles, find the party which best matches them, get involved with it and take an active part in its policy development.

    The problem with politicians is that they thing they should run everything and be the sole voice public discourse.

    There is another voice that helps keep civil society on course, the Church. Of course politicians being worldly creatures want to be the sole authority and in our times have effectively silenced the Church which has effectively been marginalized out of the public conversation by rabid secularization.

    Its a shame really and our society is the worse for it.

    That tension between the secular and the Church is beautifully and humorously portrayed here – Don Camillo’s battles with the Communist mayor Peppino

  2. homepaddock says:

    The church did enter the election debate, Andrei. I read several media statements in support of MMP and left wing policies from clergy.

  3. mort says:

    Perhaps if the media did their job and reported the facts not the opinions according to the media then people might have been more informed. Instead we had TV3 and NZ Herald hijack the final 2 weeks of the campaign to push their personal agenda, to the detriment of actually letting the pollies state their policies.

    If they actually did their job properly and costed out various policies then people would be able to see what was really on offer. But that involves using brainpower, and neutrality, Something desperately in short supply in NZ’s Media

  4. Andrei says:

    The church did enter the election debate, Andrei. I read several media statements in support of MMP and left wing policies from clergy.

    Yes you did Ele, but this wasn’t the Church speaking that was some foolish clergy pontificating about stuff that is not within the brief of the Church – indeed one clergyman made a statement that was possibly blasphemous – I wont highlight it.

    But rest assured the ownership of state assets and the electoral system or the exploration for oil off the coast etc are not areas that fall within the brief of the Church.

    Indeed the Church entering into these areas undermines it efforts in areas where it does belong, those being the relationships people have with each other and the values we place upon each other and our humanity.

    In fact secular society has taken over things that might better be the province of the Church – social welfare might be one, education, health possibly though that is less clear. Marriage obviously the state has no business in that and its take over of it has trashed that noble institution

  5. JC says:

    All the voter turnout graphic shows is that people were more engaged with politics under FPP, but like kids with a surfeit of lollies all MMP did was create a pain in the gut, and a dulled sense of taste.

    Another factor, which really only National understands (because its in its genes) is that “progressive” politics can only be progressed if there’s plenty of money and lots of children to pay for the mistakes.. neither is in abundance now and likely none for a generation.

    The public gets all that, knows the party’s over and that all of the Opposition party spending promises are crap. So they overwhelmingly voted for the Nats, didn’t vote at all, or played silly buggers with their vote.

    But the big message is that the old social model has run its course; its run out of money and ideas and especially results. Like Muldoon, Helen Clark managed to stave off reality for a decade, but now all thats left is productive work and austerity.. or follow Europe into inevitable riot and ruin.

    JC

  6. johnsonmike says:

    It’s really sad. A million people not voting?

    One of my children is overseas as a high school exchange student this year but went out of her way by some hundreds of kilometres to travel to the NZ Embassy to cast her very first vote. Nobody made her do that, she just wanted to.

    Yet a million people can’t be bothered walking to the local school hall?

    Jesus wept.

    I blame the media for this for its massive trivialising of politics and everything else this past decade or so.

  7. Andrei says:

    Yet a million people can’t be bothered walking to the local school hall?

    Jesus wept.

    Not really – voting means about as much as a vote for teen idol or who gets evicted from the big brother house this week

    Your choice is vapid candidate A or vapid candidate B and regardless of who actually gets the most votes both Vapid candidate A and vapid candidate B will be taking their seats in Parliament and voting to pass bills you don’t approve of

  8. johnsonmike says:

    voting means about as much as a vote for teen idol or who gets evicted from the big brother house this week

    I am staggered by your cynicism.

    Jesus wept.

  9. homepaddock says:

    Andrei – I second JM in being staggered by the cynicism.

    I’ve met MPs and candidates from across the political spectrum and only a very few could be described as vapid.

    Most are intelligent, hard working people with a genuine desire to make New Zealand, and often the wider world, a better place. I disagree , often strongly, with the way some want to do it but I admire most for their dedication and service.

  10. johnsonmike says:

    I also wonder whether the low turnout was because the media portrayed the election as a National walkover, allowing the rebirth of Winston First, whose doddery voters came out for him while many National and Labour voters stayed home, meaning he went up sharply as a proportion of the votes actually cast.

    The result has been portrayed as some fantastic National victory but looking at it, National has got the tiniest of majorities and Peters is back, the wrecker of wreckers,

    National had a much bigger majority in the outgoing Parliament despite having fewer seats.

    I’m very happy with Key carrying on, but I hope he actually will be able to without being held hostage to Peters when Banks or Tariana baulk at a crucial moment.

  11. homepaddock says:

    JM – You’re right. Although the vote for National went up, those of its coalition partners went down.

    Last time John Key chose to invited the Maori Party into coalition and had options to go right or left for comfortable support. This time, even if we keep all the seats we’ve got, he’s just a tantrum away from losing the majority.

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