We’re gearing up for the 2020 New Zealand general election and the anticipation is getting more intense than the nation’s obsession with Dr Ashley Bloomfield. As I’m still conflicted between voting for Labour again or voting Greens in this election, I decided to productively procrastinate by reaching out to some UC students to hear their reasons on why they’re voting for a different party this election than the one they voted for in 2017.
Multiple factors instead of a particular reason seemed to be the common consensus across students’ responses when questioned about why they were voting for a different party this election. Policies were a big one for some like Sarah*, 27, who voted for NZ First in 2017 but is voting for TOP in this election. “The policies are my priority, and I have no loyalty to any political party. I often use the websites ‘I Side With’ and ‘On the Fence’ to help me to decide which party gets my vote.” There were also those like James, 23, where leadership was important. James voted for National in 2017 and said that “National represented the majority of my political views quite well but they haven’t had a strong leader since Bill English’s resignation in 2018.” James is voting for ACT in this election.
Other reasons for voting differently in this election came around COVID-19 response and the government’s role. Matt*, 25, a National voter in 2017 but voting Greens in this election, said one of the major reasons he wasn’t voting for National again was because of the party’s behaviour when COVID-19 first appeared. “I believe that if they had been in power, they would have been too slow to lockdown and too fast to re-open, and we would have ended up with a lot more people dead.” Steven*, 25, who voted for NZ First in 2017 but will be voting for ACT this election, said he was changing his vote because his world view of the government’s role was not the same as it was in 2017. “If my mind was still in the same place as when I was younger, then I would most likely not switch.”
When asked if students were vocal about their political opinions to other people, responses were varied. Most of the right-leaning voters said they kept their political opinions on the downlow, while most of those who were left-leaning said they were open about their political opinions to everybody. A common theme across the replies to this question was that students wished people were more open around voting and politics. Lily, 21, who voted for National in 2017 but is undecided in which party she’s voting for this election, said “I think everyone should be more open about who we vote for. It can help us see different viewpoints and arguments.”
Every student apart from one said that they’d be voting ‘Yes’ in the Cannabis Referendum and their opinions on the topic were very similar. Emma, 23, who voted Labour in 2017 but is voting Greens this election, summed up the replies of everyone voting ‘Yes’ with her response: “Legalisation means there would be less risk involved with using it as we would know where it was coming from and would be in less danger of being exposed to dangerous products such as laced weed.” Howard*, 22, who voted Greens in 2017 but is voting New Conservative this election, was the only student voting ‘No’. His reasoning was that “cannabis promotes a passive lifestyle, going with the flow rather than tackling life head-on. It gets in the way of living life, and there are enough distractions out there already.” He added that he knew this from his own first-hand experience. Responses around the End of Life Choice Referendum were very mixed with some students fully for it, one fully against it, and others hadn’t come to a final decision yet.
Finally, I asked students if they had any messages around voting that they’d like to put out to students at UC. El, 29, who voted Labour in 2017 but is voting TOP this election, wanted students to know that “no vote is wasted. If we stop thinking this way, there’s a much higher chance of letting new and better ideas refresh our government and political systems.” Xavier, 19, who was a National supporter in 2017 (however too young to vote) but plans to vote Greens in this election, said “your vote is yours and it’s important to use it wisely to work towards a better New Zealand for everyone.” The general message that everyone wanted to put out to students was just GET OUT AND BLOODY VOTE! So please, PLEASE take this advice and make sure that you do.
*Names have been changed at students’ request to remain anonymous.
By Ella Somers