The bigger picture

Despite Labour’s support continuing to flatline, I see a lot of commenters being optimistic – a lot of ancedotes about this relative or that coworker who’s traditionally been a National Party voter but is now reconsidering or even disavowing voting for them in 2014.

That’s … not necessarily a good thing, though.

Because there’s no assurance that those previous-National voters are switching to Labour or the Greens or even the Conservatives.  They’re fed up with Key, yes, but they’re not saying en masse, “we think [insert party] has the answers” – they’re just fed up.

This could simply mean that a chunk of people who voted for National in 2011/2008 just stay at home.

Technically, that’s a good thing for the left, if the left can get mobilised (remember, it was our peeps who stayed home the last two times, for (in my opinion) similar “don’t like any of you bastards” reasons).  We’ve got a proportional system which rewards the side who gets people to the polling booths.

The problem I have is that, good as the outcome might be for the country, it’s a bad thing for NZ democracy if a Labour/Green/whoever coalition is victorious largely because National voters stayed home this time.

If only because it says that a lot of voters don’t see enough substantive difference between National and Labour, as the coalition-bloc-leading parties, to be bothered picking one over the other.  But also because I believe that high turnout is a good thing.  It gives a real mandate to all parties involved.  It shows that people believe their vote can make a difference.

And it would mean that a left/centre-left coalition had really been chosen by the people. It would show they had earned it.  Not been allowed to slip into power because of the apathy of others.



  1. Chris Miller

    Totally agree. IMO people simply not voting is a vote of no confidence and should be an enormous flashing warning sign to all parties, *especially* the big two. I mean, I’m hardly your average citizen when it comes to voting because, you know, studying policy, but I get excited about elections! Last election was the first time I got put in Twitter jail, and I was offline most of the day working a polling station. Other people should at least be mustering some kind of interest, and if they aren’t, it’s a failure of the parties’ marketing, community involvement, *policies*, etc.

  2. just saying

    Just saying:

    If National voters stay at home, its because they know that:
    a) Labour will not undo National’s “good” work and will make no major changes to the status quo, and;
    b) Letting the opposition have a ‘turn’ when Labour is weak will benefit the right’s long-term electoral prospects. As the depression deepens, seeing Labour flail around ineffectually, often in conflict with its coalition partners over its own version of austerity, can only reinforce for voters that there really is no viable alternative.

    Hell, if I was a tory I’d be holding my nose and voting Labour in the next election, if the polls were close.