Brown is back but may have to work harder
Returned mayor Len Brown will have to work harder to get his policies through following Auckland Council taking a slight shift to the right in the local body elections, commentators say.
Mr Brown won back the mayoralty with 162,675 votes, a majority of 55,003, at the weekend but the composition of the council has changed with the loss of left-leaning councillors.
Labour member Richard Northey was ousted in the Maungakiekie-Tamaki ward by National Party member Denise Krum, and Chris Darby, thought to be socially liberal but fiscally conservative, replaced Ann Hartley on the North Shore.
The next best candidate for mayor, John Palino, accrued a more-than-expected 107,672 votes which political commentator Matthew Hooton says will give right wing candidates the confidence next time around.
Mr Hooton says the mayor will have to ‘‘govern from the centre’’.
Left-leaning commentator Chris Trotter agrees the left has taken a hit, but says the result would not affect policy-making decisions greatly.
‘‘I think on most crucial issues the mayor, using his casting vote, will still be able to prevail but not as comfortably as he used to when there were two or three more obviously centre-left people.’’
The low voter turnout of 34 per cent has prompted Mr Brown to call for a major revamp of the local body voting system.
He describes the turnout as ‘‘low’’ and says it is time to embrace online voting in a bid to encourage ‘‘better engagement’’ with the community.
‘‘We will do online voting next time, there is no doubt about that.’’
Mr Brown says the belief amongst some in Auckland that his re-election was a certainty could have been another explanation for any voter apathy.
He says he is committed to continuing what he describes as a ‘‘very good working relationship’’ with Prime Minister John Key. ‘‘We have some agreement around the area of transportation and housing.’’