In a city where the people have been denied a real say into the rebuilding of Christchurch, none of the many candidates for the mayoralty and council - or the community and health boards - seem to want to talk about democratic renewal.

Given the way that the good people of Christchurch have been dictatorially cut out of any real say in the rebuild of Christchurch, I have been surprised, perhaps disturbed, that none of the many candidates for the mayoralty, the council and the community and health boards have raised any significant proposals on how people can have a real democratic input into the local decision making process.

The question, for me anyway, is how do we break the control of powerful actors on council and in wider Christchurch society? How do we stop representatives of powerful vested corporate interests, like Peter Townsend of the Canterbury Employers of Commerce, posturing in the media all the time and acting as if they speak for all of Christchurch?

Reflecting also the national situation, concerned citizens of Christchurch feel shut out from the making of political and social decisions. They rightly feel that they do not have a voice. And complaining to a councillor is merely a 'safety valve' for the political establishment.

In reality we are bossed about, lectured to, misrepresented, told to stand in line and wait our turn.

How we do move from a failed representative democracy to real democracy? Why can't we recall councillors if we don't like what they are doing? Why can't leadership roles be rotated? Who says that councillors should get paid so much in a city where so many people are poor?

No one has raised any significant ideas or proposals about how to devolve political power to the local community. The discussion and debate is absent, trapped within the same uninspiring and timid perimeters that we see at the national level.

And, believe me, no good will come from Lianne Dalziel's expressed desire to have a good working relationship with Gerry Brownlee. It looks like, other than some 'tweaking' of the system, it'll be business as usual under a Dalziel mayoralty. And if you disagree with me tell me how it will be concretely different.

 I suspect that, under Dalziel, council will retain  the same alienating character that we saw under Mayor Sideshow Bob and his infamous 'A Team'.

The top down mentality will remain in place when I, for one, would like to see that top down structure flipped over. We would see political power flow from the community and the grassroots level and councillors will truly be our representatives - and not grossly overpaid 'executives' only accountable every three years.

But any discussion or debate about democratic renewal in Christchurch is certainly not on the minds of those seeking office - or the media.

I was reading my local rag The Christchurch Star this morning. There is a article about a mayoral candidate, Victor Cattermole, who apparently once tried to buy the Portsmouth Football Club in England and has been the director of nineteen companies struck off the  Companies Register or put into liquidation.

And another tabloid story features on the front page and inside the newspaper. It is the crucial political story of aspiring councillor Alexandra Davids who has posted some fashion shots of herself on her Facebook page. Her mother, the newspaper informs us, advised her to take them down if she wanted to be taken seriously as a politician. Gosh.

We might get a bit of a laugh out of this, but it is certainly not funny that local politics will remain something that is done to us rather than something we not only participate in but also control. Power to the people!


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