“People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true.
Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote – a very different thing.”
Walter H. Judd, American Politician, 1898-1994,
Election Day 2011. But where is all the usual hype that attends an election? Perhaps New Zealanders have had all the excitement they can bear for a year with the Rugby World Cup. Or are they apathetic and don’t care who runs the country? We are told that the National Party (the right) has an unassailable lead against Labour (the left) and all the minnow small parties that want a seat and a say.
We have a system of MMP ie Mixed Member Proportional voting whereby each person has two votes. One for the candidate of their choice in their electorate and one for the party of their choice. The party vote determines the number of seats a party holds in addition to those won in electorates. This means that we have a lively mix of parties in parliament; some having only one or two seats. Very different from the days of first past the post when only two parties ruled.
In the run up to the election we have had the leaders’ debates between leaders of National and Labour; we have had leaders debates of all the smaller parties who are likely to gain a seat in the next parliament. But these debates have all been lack lustre and no one party or politician has come up with any good responses to the major questions bothering New Zealanders ie
- What is to be done about the horrific statistics relating to child abuse in New Zealand.
- What is to be done about literacy and the numbers of New Zealand teens leaving school barely able to read or write
- What is to be done about finding employment for these young people leaving school and also for the numbers people of all ages who cannot find a job.
- What is to be done about the surging cost of living that leaves the ‘the man in the street’ way behind.
We have had lots of rhetoric but no real answers and of course, who really can come up with policies that are going to make a real difference to those of us on middle and lower incomes, not to say the poor.
So tonight while we are attending election day parties with friends, those people brave enough, or foolish enough, to want to step into the political ring, will wait to see whether the next three years will see them involved in governing this country.
“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
George Jean Nathan, American drama critic 1882-1958