Friday, November 7, 2008

Who I voted for – You’re in for a surprise. I was

Now that the circus of an election in the US is over, we can concentrate on the real election of the year – the New Zealand general election.

As I’m overseas, I voted early to ensure my papers are back in NZ by 8 November – I’d hate for the election results to be held up on account of my tardiness.

Many people consider voting to be an intensely private affair. I am not one of those people. I’m interested in why people have voted for a particular party or person and I like to question people about it. I’m also open about who I vote for.

I had a really hard time deciding which party to vote for in this election. Neither Labour nor National offer anything to get excited or inspired about, and the minor parties are all one-issue wonders as far as I’m concerned. To try to avoid my usual irrational bias for certain people and parties, I identified the key policy areas I’m interested in and tried to score them based on their individual merits. I know I should look at the whole package presented by the parties, but my attention span does not have that sort of fortitude. This election, the policies I’m interested in are: Tax and finance; health (including ACC); education; and the environment.

For each party, I gave their policies a score between 1 (woeful) and 5 (gold). In addition to the policies above, I also gave a score for my views of the leader, the deputy leader and my overall impression of the other party members. With the scores inputted it’s simple – the party with the highest score gets my vote. This is how it turned out:

CriteriaLabourNationalMaoriGreensACTNZ First
Tax & finance231121

Key highlights from my evaluation:

- My confidence in any of the parties’ ability to with the current economic crisis has diminished the more I read their policies.
- I’m no longer paying income tax in NZ, so my stance on tax has softened considerably.
- I am concerned that none of the parties’ have clearly articulated a plan for how they are going to deal with NZ’s ailing health system.
- I do not think privatising ACC is a good idea.
- I think Labour’s education policies are the best on offer – Though, I do have doubts about the affordability of the universal student allowance.
- I think both Labour and National will be cautious in adopting clean energy policies and I doubt, given current financial conditions, that either party has the courage to sacrifice economic outcomes in favour of environmental ones.
- Key shows a lot of promise, while Clark is super solid - though she has been a bit quick to turn on colleagues and name scapegoats. That said, I think both Key and Clark are good leaders.
- Sorry Dr Cullen, although you are one of the smartest politicians I’ve seen anywhere, you are also a smarmy know-it-all who's luck has run out. Congratulations on being at the helm of the first developed country to go into recession this year.
- I don’t have faith in National’s ranks. The lead-up to the elections has not been polished by National and I am concerned about how inexperienced many of them are.

Well, it was unexpected, but Labour got my vote this year.

Find out more about the NZ election here.


cjinspector said...

How do you feel about an American who consciously not vote in the national elections? Of those who avoided voting, does it mean they do not care about their future?

Si said...

First off, I’ll quickly declare my bias: I’m interested in politics and the form and policies of the Govt. directly impact my life and the lives of many of my friends. For me, consciously not voting would imply a degree of disregard for my future.

However, for those who truly don’t believe in the candidates or the process, a decision not to vote does not necessarily mean they don’t care about their future. Their argument, presumably, is that voting is irrelevant. They believe that the outcome of the election will have no impact on their lives, either now or in the future. They might go further and, drawing on the writing of Ambrose Bierce, say that voting is merely “the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.” If you’ve made it this far, you can presumably get to the ‘inexorable’, though somewhat satirical, conclusion that a conscious decision not to vote is in fact a positive action for an individual’s future.

Personally, I can’t understand why anyone in the USA would consciously not vote. I would love to have been able to vote for a candidate like Obama and I think America’s future looks a little brighter with him at the helm.