Beyond all the self congratulations of Aucklands re-elected local political class is the naked truth barely a third of the city even bothered voting. No one can pretend to have a mandate to do any thing and the divided Council this low vote has spat out means sweet bugger all is going to happen in the next term.
TDB was the first media outlet who argued this could be the lowest voter turn out on record because we looked at the actual pre-enrolment levels before the first vote was even cast, and what we saw was that somehow the Council had managed to enrol even less people than the last election despite more houses being built in that time and despite far more people being in Auckland!
I predicted that the turn out would be barely 30%. So it has come to pass.
Now you can listen to the mainstream media as they scramble to explain things, or stick with the guys who called it first, because online voting IS NOT the bloody solution!
When participation is this low, there is something horribly damaged with our democracy and that needs urgent attention because a lack of participation robs the process of any legitimacy, if these issues aren’t solved then they really are open for a Brexit or Trump like aftershock.
Aucklanders weaponised their apathy because the see the process as an empty meaningless gesture, and I would argue this weaponised apathy started at the Census when huge numbers simply didn’t bother engaging.
REAL POWER: One of the reasons Aucklanders weaponised their apathy is because Council has sweet bugger all real power and that the technocrats make most of the decisions. The ‘Council Controlled Organisations’ are not controlled by Council at all, to lift participation rates you need to have Councillors that have real power, not the pretence of real power.
REAL CHANGE: Voters need to be able to see real universal services that have real impacts on their lives – free public transport is the sort of thing that would create real change and have a direct impact in peoples lives in the city and ensure they turn out and vote every single election.
REAL VISION: The total lack of true local representation kills off participation. We need far more local councillors and they need to have far more say over local issues. We desperately need local resilience networks to help build processes to deal with climate change issues.
DUMP POSTAL BRING BACK ELECTION DAY: Postal voting is a joke, dump them and bring back one day of voting the way we do with the National elections.
MAKE ELECTION DAY A MID WEEK PUBLIC HOLIDAY: Celebrate the fact we are one of the few places on earth where the transfer of power can be done peacefully by making election day a Wednesday and making that day a public holiday so that whanau can gather together, cast their vote as a group down at the local election centre and go home for a big BBQ to celebrate our democracy.
LOWER VOTING AGE TO 16: Young people will face the force of climate change far more deeply than older voters, their concerns and their voices need to be heard and engaging them young will keep them engaged.
NEW REVENUE STREAM TO FUND AUCKLAND INFRSATRUCTURE: Auckland’s problem is the same as many councils, we can’t borrow more for the investment we desperately need because it will trigger a higher interest rate on the existing debt. There needs to be some function where by the NZ Super Fund can directly invest into Council infrastructures without it appearing on the balance sheet of the council as a debt.
There needs to be a wholesale re-investment into Local Government so that instead of being a faux democratic choice, citizens actually feel like their vote means something rather than an act masquerading as democracy for the illusion of legitimacy.
Despite the Spinoff level smug self congratulations of those who won in Auckland, 32% turn out is a sad and sorry joke, except that jokes require structure, timing and skill.
This result has given us none of that.