Laila Harre: Claiming a dubious 'win' for Labour.
The Northcote by-election reveals, again, that New Zealand’s political system is broken.

LAILA HARRE, the former leader of the failed Internet Party, has since rejoined the Labour Party. So it comes as no surprise that she has attempted to portray National's victory in the Northcote by-election as a win for Labour.

Her reasoning is that Labour increased its share of the vote from 35 percent at the last election to 44 percent in the by election. But even Harre recognises that Labour achieved this largely by cannibalising the Green and New Zealand First vote. Since NZF didn't actually stand a candidate its hardly surprising that its supporters should vote for its government partner.

The real winner was, again, the Did Note Vote Party. It scored a fine 56 percent of the non vote. Despite all the media hoopla, only 43.7 of the electorate felt compelled to vote.

TV3's political editor Tova O'Brien thinks that representative democracy has been 'the loser' and then goes on to imply that its all the fault of Northcote folk for not voting. She declares: 

"So come on, guys - don't let the politicians be the only winners whether they won or not. Vote."

What O'Brien blithely ignores is that the low turnout in Northcote represents just one of a long series of historically low voter turnouts in national and by-elections.

The system is clearly broken and has been for a long time. Representative democracy is neither representative or democratic. People are indifferent to the calls to vote from the political establishment and its media allies when they are confronted by a slate of political parties that are all committed to market-led policies and offer little in the way of a real alternative. The absence of a genuinely progressive political party on the New Zealand political landscape remains conspicuous.

People have had enough. Tova O'Brien would be better employed listening to what people are saying in the community rather than being a cheerleader for a political system that people have lost faith in. 


  1. On the other hand, turnout in the election last year was nearly 80% which puts Aotearoa-New Zealand right near the top, world-wide, for voter participation.

    If democracy is broken here, it's more broken everywhere else!

  2. It's worth pointing out that Phil Saxby was one of the founders of the Electoral Reform Coalition that was formed in 1986 to campaign for proportional representation. At that time he was Chair of the Electorate Committee for Labour MP John Terris.


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