Vot­ers need a clear choice

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS -

flurry of late en­trants hap­pily put a stop to the early coro­na­tion.

Other reaches of the re­gion have less va­ri­ety.

Up­per Hutt’s long-serv­ing Wayne Guppy faces scant op­po­si­tion. He has a sin­gle op­po­nent, Alan Jef­feries, to worry about, though at least that is one more than he has some­times faced. (It is also one more than Up­per Hutt’s re­gional coun­cil­lor Paul Swain will meet this year – he will be re­turned to his job un­op­posed).

This ei­ther sig­nals a very con­tented elec­torate – or, more likely, sim­ple in­er­tia. Cer­tainly no-one can be sur­prised if there is low turnout in Up­per Hutt this year.

In both Lower Hutt and on the Kapiti Coast, by con­trast, there are also six may­oral can­di­dates.

Of course, num­bers are only one mea­sure of a mean­ing­ful choice. The plat­forms and per­son­al­i­ties of the can­di­dates are an­other.

It’s long been clear that many vot­ers find lo­cal elec­tions off­putting. Po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists say they should rank ev­ery can­di­date on their STV vot­ing form, but pick­ing a sin­gle one can be hard enough. Turnout is fre­quently around 40 per cent, a pro­por­tion so low it raises trou­bling ques­tions about the whole en­ter­prise.

Some peo­ple prob­a­bly feel that the stakes are low. That is un­der­stand­able but wrong – coun­cils have sig­nif­i­cant pow­ers, from public trans­port to reg­u­lat­ing new build­ing. The postal vote per­haps also en­cour­ages a cer­tain lethargy: peo­ple leave the papers ly­ing around in­stead of mail­ing them.

Most of all, vot­ers often feel they lack the knowl­edge to make an in­formed choice. This may be partly due to their own short­age of spare time and cu­rios­ity, but it is also surely a fail­ure of the can­di­dates – to make it plain what they stand for.

All the can­di­dates would do well to give a clear sense of their prin­ci­ples and pri­or­i­ties.

Then it will be up to the vot­ers to lis­ten and choose be­tween them.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.