The election results are in and the easy winner of the Rawhiti-Ikaroa by election was the Did Not Vote Party.
The runaway winner in the Rawhiti-Ikaroa by election was the Did Not Vote Party, with nearly 23,000 eligible voters not voting. In stark contrast the combined vote for all the candidates was just over 10,000 votes with the winner, Labour's Meka Whaitiri, receiving 4,368 votes.
All up a massive 69 percent of eligible voters stayed away from the polling booths.
It must of been somewhat of a disappointment for arch Labour apologist and Mana supporter Martyn Bradbury. He predicted a big night for Mana. Probably 2607 votes was not what he meant by 'a big night'. Martyn Bradbury threw a party - and hardly anybody came.
Bradbury actually gets paid by Mana for his political analysis and presumably some of this analysis appears on The Daily Blog. It is also worth noting that this website is partly sponsored by the Unite Union - which also has links to Mana.
The low turnout is yet another indication of a massive and comprehensive alienation from a political system that has failed to deliver for the working class (and the Maori populace is predominantly working class). This certainly wasn't echoed by the comfortably middle class pundits and commentators who, in the days preceding the election, grazed contentedly on various aspects of the by election - in the way that dairy cows graze serenely on green pasture.
For those who explain the low turnout on the grounds that there is always a low turn out for by elections they should look at the historically low turnout for the last general election. This wasn't just some kind of by election aberation.
The only people, in fact, who were even mildly interested in this election were the apparatchiks of the political system - the politicians, the party functionaries, mainstream journalists and bloggers.
While some will try to explain away the low turnout by blaming 'apathetic' Maori, why should anyone participate in a political system that has resolutely defended and promoted the neoliberal and anti-working class policies of the past three decades? In Rawhiti-Ikaroa the policies of successive governments—National-led and Labour-led —have had a devastating impact on the working class.
It might have been different if just one of the main contenders was offering a real political and economic alternative.
That party could of been Mana. But while it often talks alternative and appears alternative, Maori well know that some of its leadership want to talk deals and concessions with the Labour Party.
The by election could be an instructive lesson for Mana but unfortunately the spectre of Mana doing a deal with Labour post-election (if Labour wins of course) continues to be raised by people like Martyn Bradbury as part of a so-called Labour-Greens-Mana 'progressive bloc'.
There is also speculation about a Mana and Maori Party 'merger'. I think it is just media speculation but it does suggest that some Mana supporters don't want Mana adopt a clear left wing program that isn't beholden to doing deals with Labour. They'd rather look rightwards to the Maori Party.
What is clear though is that Maori have adopted a critical attitude to the real sources of the social and economic problems that they confront everyday. The sources of these problems lie within the capitalist system itself and none of the parties that were campaigning in Rawhiti-Ikaroa are prepared to confront that system.