Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Zealand's huge non-voter turn-out at the 2014 elections! Why?

There will be a great deal of soul-searching on the part of various political parties who were the ‘recipients’ of the non-voters at the general election we have just had in NZ. I have seen figures whereby the 1,000,000 plus votes that the National Party got was matched by those not voting. My first ‘gut-driven’ reaction to this is—‘well, don’t let me hear you moaning about the Government for the next three years---you had your chance to express your opinion and non-voting just doesn’t cut it with me!’ I do however have another reaction; one a bit more kind. I suspect there are many reasons, other than apathy for not voting. History has taught us that when people are suffering, down and almost out, they sometimes become ‘conditioned into believing anything they do will not work that their position in life is so bad that they have given up on themselves. That stance suits those in certain parties who do not want these people to vote for anything other than the elitist party now in power. I can already hear the indignant cries coming from that quarter (or more likely half!) Once again the reason are more complex than any one explanation. Once again, I turn to history to seek some answers. To believe that one can achieve change in society, comes a certain way of thinking. It also requires ‘organizing on a massive scale and the ruling elite often put barriers in place to stop such movements, albeit ones that are not always obvious in a country like NZ. The media is often blamed by those on the ‘left,’ as being controlled and unfriendly to alternate views.’ It would not be hard to find examples re the election just past. New Zealand should and must be different. We are a small nations and it is not impossible to organize for change. Sometimes the parties representing that desire, shoot themselves in the foot, by making unwise and counter-productive decisions. Once again we saw that in the election this year. For a large group of non-voters to be motivated, they need to hear policy than can relate to, in a manner that is accessible. They do not want to see public fighting that should occur behind closed doors re leadership issue. I wonder if the Labour Party will take that consideration aboard, when the knives are put tomorrow. If Labour and the Greens wish to make a difference; to get the non-voters out next time around, then they need to think way smarter. National openly made accommodations with minor parties this election and will do so again. That they then probably ignore them after the results are in, because they don’t need them. May of course comer back to bite them in the proverbial! Labour had a chance to come to an accommodation with the Greens and they did not take it! But, nothing can take away entirely from the fact that if you wish to change a Government or get your party more votes, you have to get the people out. Giving them reason is half of the solution, the other as always is with the individual making a choice to make a decision to get out and actually ‘do it.’ Apathy, laziness, call it what you like, just means more of the same! Have we learnt? I wonder.