A quiet by-election?

NZ Heerald reports that the My Albert by-election is the quietest and most inconsequential ‘on record’ in  Candidates brace for the polls … wait, what? There’s a byelection?

It’s inconsequential in the grand scheme of things if Jacinda Ardern coasts to victory as widely predicted.

But early voting is ahead of the Mt Roskill by-election and even the last  general election, so is something going on beneath the radar?

With a week to go, the Mt Albert byelection is shaping up as the quietest and most inconsequential on record.

Former Labour Party president and political commentator Mike Williams is describing it as “the most low-key byelection I’ve ever seen”.

“Beyond the hoardings which you see on the way to the airport, there’s hardly a ripple in Auckland,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in byelections since Onehunga in 1981 … but I have never seen anything like this.”

Perhaps the media see it as so uncontroversial and inconsequential they aren’t bothering to give the campaign any oxygen.

Interest in the contest to replace former Labour MP David Shearer is low because National has not put up a candidate, saying it is a safe Labour seat and that it is focused on the general election.

That means the only serious contenders out of the 13 candidates are Labour’s Jacinda Ardern and the Greens’ Julie Anne Genter, who have few differences and are not criticising each other because of the two parties’ pact to work together.

Media choose who are ‘serious contenders’ and ignore the rest, cutting them out of contention – this is a major problem with how our democracy works, an unfairly uneven playing field dictated by media.

Williams predicted that the Mt Albert turnout could be the lowest in history, even lower than Mt Roskill in December where turnout fell by half from the general election in 2014.

But…

Contrary to that prediction, advance voting in Mt Albert is tracking ahead of the Mt Roskill contest.

Why does early voter activity appear to contradict the Herald and Williams talking up a snoozefest?

Labour is also using the byelection as an opportunity to hone its new campaigning strategy.

The strategy was taken from the Victoria Labour Party and was used successfully in Justin Lester’s Wellington mayoralty campaign and in the Mt Roskill byelection.

The strategy establishes a network of field organisers and volunteers, and uses sophisticated data to determine which voters are persuadable and what issues they care about so the party can better connect with them on a personal level.

Is this quietly working very well?

Or is there something else encouraging votes that the media hasn’t noticed? Something like:

  • Greens trying to ambush Labour?
  • National nudging their voters to cause mischief?
  • A ‘non-serious’ party attracting support – for example, TOP, the Cannabis Party of the Peoples’ Party?
  • Are voters spontaneously revolting against the parties ?

Or will Ardern canter to victory, perhaps with Genter trotting along behind doing some homework for the general election?

Leave a comment

3 Comments

  1. patupaiarehe

     /  18th February 2017

    Who knows, & who cares? It speaks volumes of the arrogance of our current govt, who can’t be fuct with even standing a candidate….

    Reply
  2. duperez

     /  19th February 2017

    Of course it’s not inconsequential because there are going to be real winners and real losers. And those who say it’s inconsequential then make comments they think are of consequence.

    J Ardern is in a no-win situation. She could win by 12,345 votes and be condemned as having achieved a smaller percentage than previous Labour members had got there. She is likelyb to get the most votes and have it thrown at her that the Government didn’t try and it wasn’t a vote against their policies and personnel.

    Julie Anne Genter and her party too will be in the same sort of firing line.

    Reply
  3. Abe could be the dark horse ? look out

    Reply

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