The Did Not Vote Party attracted nearly a million non votes this year. It was another highly successful non election campaign.

NEARLY A MILLION PEOPLE did not bother to vote this year. There was hope in some quarters that the improved number of people voting in advance of polling day would prove to be the  precursor of a strong turnout on election day. This was not  the case.

The cold hard  fact is that year's result  ranks as the third-worst turnout in the last 100 years, with the number of non-voters almost tallying to the number of votes that went to National. The Did Not Vote Party could well have formed a minority government.

Clearly the CTU's 'Get Out and Vote' campaign had a near zero impact, although that's not what the CTU said three days  before the election.

CTU vice President Richard Wagstaff  said that ' tens of thousands of workers from all around New Zealand have embraced the Get Out and Vote campaign.' The problem was that the CTU was preaching to the already converted. Telling  people who have every intention to vote that they should get out and vote is hardly a triumph.

Just like last time people are speculating as to why may people went missing in action on election day. And the same old explanations have been offered, including  that perennial  favourite, ' voter apathy'. It certainly is  a strange  phenomenon this apathy. At election time apathy suddenly engulfs  the nation, with people drowning helplessly in a stew of  sloth  and  gripped by a mystifying inability to get out of bed.

The  most popular 'solution'  to the problem seems  to be to force people into voting by making it compulsory. Presumably if you still don't vote you will be sent  to a 'Civic Education' internment camp will you be taught the error of you're lazy ways and  forcibly reminded  as to why we live 'in one of the best little democracies in the world'.

What is interesting  is that Statistics NZ surveyed why people did not vote in 2008 and 2011. This revealed that 40 percent of  people did not vote because they were 'disengaged  from the democratic process'.    They did not vote because  they did not think it would  make any difference.

And they are dead right.

It does not matter who you vote for you because you will  still end up with a government pursuing the neoliberal orthodoxy that has strangled this country for three long decades.

Despite Labour wanting  people to 'vote positive' it is not a positive message to tell 'disengaged voters' that you remain committed  to the neoliberal orthodoxy. Which is what Labour did all the time. 

Similarly  the endorsement of the neoliberal orthodoxy by  Green co-leader Russel Norman would have hardly inspired the disengaged voter to rush out and vote for the Green Party. And they didn't

The fact is that we no longer have a proper functioning  democratic system, merely the facade of one. It is fiction to talk of the 'democratic process'  if our only contribution is to vote every three years for parliamentary parties that will just continue to enforce the neoliberal orthodoxy.

But rather than declare  the emperor has no clothes, the liberal chattering class that writes for blogs like The Daily Blog and The Standard  would rather moan  abut voter apathy and demand compulsory voting for us all.

That means that they can continue  to posture about how  awful John Key and the National Party are without making  any commitment to real change.  My fear is that we're going to have to put up with this nonsense for the next three years as well.


  1. While I don't think that not voting is a solution, I do strongly agree with your premise that the lack of any real visionary alternative is behind non voting, and also the lack of traction for Labour, in particular, and the Greens. The terms of reference for Labour's review shows that they still do not understand, and that they believe that rearranging the furniture is the way ahead, rather than looking deeply at who they are and what they stand for.

  2. I'd vote if there was something to vote for. But I agree with the rest of your comments. The 'debate' that Labour is engaged in now simply fails to come to grip with Labour's fundamental problems.


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