Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The silence of the public square

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  • Kumara Republic,

    Compelling or scaring people into voting probably isn't going to cut it. And, neither it seems, financial inducements. So at the end of the day, political figures need to give people a reason to vote for them, and they're not doing that job very well.

    Among industrialised nations, especially English-speaking ones, there seems to be a correlation between falling voter turnout and rising concentration of wealth upwards - the most likely explanation is that non-voters increasingly feel their vote isn't going to make a difference. All the more so when mainstream social democratic parties became indistinguishable from their Centre-Right counterparts in order to become re-electable from the early 1990s onwards.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Myles Thomas, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Be less fussy. Non-voters are like those single people who sit on the shelf, waiting for Mr or Ms Right and complain that they never arrive.

    If you don't vote you lose the right to complain.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Myles Thomas,

    Regarding Russell's initial request for debate reports, we held the CBB wgtn debate last night. Well attended and erudite audience who were mostly calm and polite until Craig Foss complained about the financial mess his govt inherited, etc. By the end there was quite a lot of anger at the fudgery in his answers to audience questions.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Myles Thomas,

    That's your analogy? Really?

    Back when I was single and on the market, if I'd had a pool of less than a dozen partners to choose from, only two of which were actually possible relationship prospects, I'd probably have become a nun. Or chosen a job where I spend 10 months of the year at sea (I hate sailing).

    And did you miss the bit where I noted that I nearly always vote? And the bit where I indicated that there are other ways to be involved in the democratic process?

    If my eating-out choices are between BK and McD's, I might start putting in a few hours at the local whole foods co-op. Or growing my own.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Speaking of which, are any of the parties doing London meetings this election campaign? I saw the Greens were out at a NZ Society organised drinks at the Black Lion a couple of weeks ago, but I've not come across anything else so far.

    They gave out a lot of stickers, which seemed to please everyone. Message seems to be that stickers encourage engagement.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Ben Austin,

    Message seems to be that stickers encourage engagement.

    Something for the adherents....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich Lock,

    it seems a rather pointless exercise when one is in one of the safer tory seats in the UK

    FPP sucks, yes

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Love you work, don't forget to stick around for the after party

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Sacha,

    FPP sucks, yes

    My hobby horse has probably had enough of being chased around the paddock by my bugbear now, so time to shut them both up.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    It almost seems that one should in part choose residence based on electorate. Choose a safe seat based on affiliation or a marginal if undecided. Otherwise just feel a bit angry twice a decade

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • blindjackdog,

    Right at the moment we've got an alliance of parties orienting themselves specifically (and explicitly) with regard to a demographic of notorious non-voters, and in doing so they're tailoring both their message and its medium.

    Isn't that democracy in action? Hasn't collective non-voting in that respect therefore inspired a political response? Aren't those non-voters now at least getting the chance of seeing candidates who might actually appeal to them -- something that wouldn't have occurred if they'd all simply obeyed the dictates of the righteous and paternalistic, swallowed down their gag reflex and cast a dutiful vote for the least bad option available?

    (Unsurprisingly, the result is that legions of anti-democrats (most notably, of course, those holding or seeking to hold political power) are in a shit-spin over it, showing their true colours as they maintain that only particular forms of political discourse are legitimate.)

    The You must vote message is so complacent and arrogant and self-important, it really makes me want to hurl.

    The You lose your right to complain argument is so stupid that anyone making it loses their right to have opinions.

    Since Nov 2007 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • blindjackdog,

    No disparagement intended re James Hurman's related post, btw. It most certainly is a good thing to have an understanding of constitutional principles. But that doesn't mean that if you feel alienated from the political culture you shouldn't express that in the only available way.

    Since Nov 2007 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to blindjackdog,

    The You lose your right to complain argument is so stupid that anyone making it loses their right to have opinions.

    No, it has a certain validity. When people don't vote out of laziness or apathy, I have no problem with them being told not to complain. If you've got the motivation to whinge, you've got the motivation to get yourself to a polling station and cast a vote. What annoys me about the "you lose your right to complain argument" is that it denies people the right to abstain as a conscious decision.

    showing their true colours as they maintain that only particular forms of political discourse are legitimate.)

    Yeah, I've been enjoying watching from this distance as Kim Dotcom shakes things up like a court jester gone feral.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    What annoys me about the “you lose your right to complain argument” is that it denies people the right to abstain as a conscious decision.

    If one wishes to abstain as a conscious decision, then you should turn up, get your voting papers, and use them to not vote. That way your abstention will be counted.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    Are such papers, whether they're spoilt or left blank, actually counted? Do they have any effect on the outcome?

    It would be nice to think an electorate could elect "Nobody" if a plurality of the voters thought all the candidates were rubbish, and have that electorate's seat sit pointedly empty in Parliament for a full term. And have that empty seat recorded as an "abstention" every time Parliament votes, and yet still require the government to win a full majority, and not just a majority of those seats not empty, to pass any legislation.

    ETA: I would also like electorates have a right of recall and electorate MPs as independents rather than party members, but it's a minimum of 8 months until I'll be able to register on the electoral roll again, so this is about as much influence as I could possibly have on these things right now.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    'No Confidence' used to poll well in certain student association elections.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Yeah, I’ve been enjoying watching from this distance as Kim Dotcom shakes things up like a court jester gone feral.

    As in a Beppe Grillo kind of feral?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Are such papers, whether they’re spoilt or left blank, actually counted? Do they have any effect on the outcome?

    Yes, and no. So any paper whose voting intent can't be easily distinguished for any reason is put in a pile during first count, on election night, and the number of papers in that pile tallied, because the overall count of papers has to agree. But no distinction is made at any point as to whether that paper has been deliberately spoiled to make a political statement, or stuffed up because someone ticked two boxes, or drawn all over in crayon by a bored child.

    Likewise, the percentage of people who don't vote is also counted, and is being used as a number of significance this time around. But in both cases, there is absolutely no way to determine whether the action is out of apathy, ignorance, bloody-mindedness, or whatever. As a political statement... I absolutely support anyone's right to choose not to vote for any reason. But as a political statement, it's a very quiet and muddy one.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Sacha,

    find something to vote for rather than against

    This.

    Turning around the confrontational political system in New Zealand will make the biggest difference to our society. Compromise and negotiation to reach a common understanding.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to blindjackdog,

    Isn’t that democracy in action? Hasn’t collective non-voting in that respect therefore inspired a political response?

    That's actually a pretty interesting argument. But not every election will be like this one, where the centre-left's search for voters is being aided by a pissed-off millionaire is donating money and charisma to a party/coalition avowedly targeting non-voters of more than one sort.

    And Labour's recent outreach is going pretty much to people who do vote -- free GP visits for children whose parents vote, and for older people, who definitely vote. The Greens have long endured a situation where they have the nominal support of young people, only to have the buggers not turn up on the day.

    You need a certain confluence of events for non-voting to look like a strategy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    How much does it cost to run as an independent? If you wanted to have someone to vote for, and didn't like any of the candidates, could you run as an independent without any aim of attracting other votes, and vote for yourself? Or would that be an expensive exercise?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    According to The Electoral Act 1993 (and subsequent amendments) :

    144 Deposit by candidate
    (1) Every constituency candidate, or some person on the constituency candidate’s behalf, shall deposit with the Returning Officer the sum of $300 not later than noon on nomination day.
    (2) The deposit shall be paid in the form of money, a bank draft, or a bank cheque.
    (3) The deposit of an unsuccessful candidate is forfeit and must be paid into the Crown Bank Account if the candidate receives in total less than 5% of the total number of votes received by constituency candidates in the district.
    (4) In every other case, the deposit of a constituency candidate must be returned to the person who paid it, but only after the Electoral Commission has received a duly completed return under section 210 in respect of that candidate.

    So it costs you $300, unless you manage to get 5% of the valid votes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    It would be an interesting experiment if one had a spare $300 to nominate oneself, spend no other money, seek no publicity, vote for yourself, and see how many other votes you end up with.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Jeremy Andrew,

    The lowest numbers of votes received in the 2011 election were for an Independent candidate in Wellington Central, and a Communist League candidate in Mt Roskill, each with 32 votes, but the Wellington Central candidate "wins" because there were more electorate votes cast there, so her 0.08% of the electorate vote is less than the 0.1% the Mt Roskill candidate got.
    Based on the average number of electorate votes cast, you'd be looking at needing to get in the region of 1630 votes to get your deposit back. I think that would be unlikely without some actual campaigning of some sort. But if you can afford to pay $300 for the luxury of voting for someone whose opinions exactly match yours, it's an option!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Back in the day civil servants got 2 weeks off if they ran for parliament - $300 for 2 weeks off is a great deal - I remember us all planning on changing our names to "Rob Muldoon" and running in Tamaki

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

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