Our future is just a day away, you must vote

Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, October 16, 2020

                                        RNZ Photo by Nate McKinnon

General Election 2020 is underway with Early Voting having begun more than 15 days ago.

The election campaign has entered its final phase. People overseas are also exercising their franchise and the rest of New Zealanders will go to polls tomorrow (October 17, 2020).

Opinion Polls over the past seven months have given the Labour Party the lead, although the National Party has managed to close the gap in recent weeks. According to the latest One News Colmar Bruton Poll, Labour is poised to secure 59 seats, two short of governing alone and therefore, the Greens, projected to win 11 seats, would be in alliance.

But Opinion Polls are just that- opinions and not facts. The real test will be this weekend and people will react to all the campaigns and promises will be as counting begins after 7 pm.

Policies, what policies?

Political observers will clearly discern the path that this year’s general election has taken since the tightness of the race became apparent.

Policies has become less important than numbers. National has suddenly became reckless with its finances- committing billions of dollars to almost every sector of the economy. Labour is equally magnanimous and policies of both Parties somewhat similar.

Policies are not light-hearted moves or pronouncements at the spur of the moment to gain public sympathy and attention. They are drafted and discussed at various levels within a Party over time with a fair amount of public consultation.

From such a standpoint, this general election suffers the inadequacy of thought and discussion, of issues that dominate the everyday life of ordinary New Zealanders. There is more sensation than substance.

Vagaries of electioneering

Both National and Labour have made promises to put more money in the people’s accounts, either as reduced rates of tax, student loans, or as more money in health, education, law and order and so on.

Some of the promises are reckless of course.

No doubt it would be better if elections were not decided on such promises.

Happily, most are not.

But in close election campaigns, such pledges loom larger. The reason is simple: wavering voters matter much more.

A majority of voters decide in advance whom they will support (and waverers mostly cancel each other out). Voting decisions are based on voters’ social origins, political preconceptions, personal philosophies and rating of the relevant policies and performance of the contenders for office.

During campaigns, like it or not, they sensibly turn off politics in droves, making most of them immune to the hocus pocus of the likes of some politicians.

The fact that voters are sceptical of politicians and their blandishments is not a threat to democracy.

That is how democracy, in the real world, really works.

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