Election 2017

What an extraordinary election campaign we are experiencing here in Aotearoa!

For those living outside Aotearoa, a summary of some key events:

We’ve lost two party leaders – Andrew Little from Labour, who resigned with dignity to allow his deputy, Jacinda Adern, to become leader; and Meteria Turei, from the Greens, whose attempts to draw attention to poverty from her own experiences backfired horribly, and who resigned for her family’s sake, leaving  her co-leader James Shaw as sole leader at this stage..

Jacinda Adern and Kelvin Davis, Labour leadership

James Shaw, Leader, Greens with former leader Meteria Turei

 

The Labour Party, with its new leadership team of Jacinda Adern and deputy Kelvin Davis (the first ever Maori deputy leader of the Labour Party) shot from 24% in the polls to somewhere around the 45% mark within a few weeks of what’s being called “the Jacinda effect”.  The Green Party and New Zealand First both slipped from more than 10% to barely more than 5% as supporters surged towards the major parties again.

Each day the poll numbers twist and turn.  All that seems probable at this time is that it will be a very close result between Labour and National, and most likely either party would need support from one or more of the smaller parties to form a majority government.

Our hope is that Labour , the Greens and the Maori Party will be able to form a creative coalition enabling them to govern; we have had nine years of neo-liberal negligent government by National, with little to show for it than more motorways and a big tunnel in Auckland.  

Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell, co-leaders, Maori Party

 

Every year I become more disillusioned with the structures of Westminster democracy as they are played out, like a team sport, in our parliamentary system.  Surely the challenges that face us as a nation demand a serious attempt at coalition on major issues such as these:

  • reducing gross income inequality, and investing in social health so no family suffers poverty and homelessness
  • creating new forms of employment so that all adults can earn a decent living and all who become wealthy through speculation or greed pay a fair share of social costs
  • dealing creatively with climate change challenges
  • reducing the social harm by treating the use of any mind-altering drug as a health issue, not as a criminal act
  • striving for values-based political ideals, and respectful parliamentary behaviour, to model the kind of society we would all prefer to live in

 Instead, our election campaigns have become a toxic blend of auction, popularity contest  and rugby game. 

Maori Television makes a real effort to enable viewers to hear all candidates, without the ankle-biting irritation of over-zealous journalists,  and with  good humour and warmth, on the whole – a refreshing change.  And mercifully the leaders of our major parties are not descending to personal abuse of opponents.

And as a footnote, one of the best contributions to political sanity this year has come from a young man, Max Harris, in his book The New Zealand Project.  I felt real hope while reading it, after hearing him speak at the Auckland Writer’s Festival, that younger generations may be inspired to demand the changes we need to have a truly civil and just society which celebrates diversity while sharing core values.  I really like his suggested cornerstones for our political systems,   ” care, community, creativity“.  Our younger men and women may be able to build kinder structures for our future…based on the politics of love, instead of on the politics of conflict.

Comments

  1. We have been getting some coverage of the election here in Sydney and are also following it closely. Good luck for Saturday!

  2. Isabel Robertson says:

    I totally agree, Charmaine with your definition of our election campaign. Will seek out Max Harris’s book.

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