Party backing seen as way to boost voter turnout
The country’s left-wing political parties are not ruling out endorsing Waikato candidates in future local government elections.
Having national political parties stand candidates in local races has been suggested as a way to reverse falling voter turnout levels.
Massey University academic Dr Andy Asquith, a local government and public management specialist, said a disconnect between councils and their constituents as well as confusion over the role of elected members had contributed to low voter turnouts.
Dr Asquith said there was no silver bullet to fix low turnouts but having national politi- cal parties in local races would help voters understand what candidates stood for.
The Green Party endorsed 21 candidates this election and Labour gave campaigning rights to candidates in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Green Party MP and local government spokeswoman Eugenie Sage said that whether the party endorsed a Waikato candidate in the future depended on interest from the community.
‘‘It really does rely on individuals wanting to put themselves forward, it’s not something that would be imposed from Wellington,’’ Ms Sage said.
Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett said there was nothing stopping a Waikato candidate or group seeking campaigning rights from the party but the first move would have to come from local communities.
‘‘The key thing is it’s locally initiated,’’ Mr Barnett said.
National Party general manager Greg Hamilton said the party had no plans to contest local govern- ment elections.
National was focused on delivering a stronger economy through a stable central government, he said.