The New Zealand election is over

“Santa’s dead.” That’s what the four year old at the bank told me when I asked about her behavioural status with the big guy. The Mum was making slightly embarrassed choking motions to me behind the girl’s back which could suggest either some religious arguments against the worship of consumerism through the cult of Santa or it could be just some creative, if slightly extreme budgeting. Stocking filling becoming stressful? Kill off Santa. End of.

I had the same reaction on Sunday morning after the election.  The promises are big. National says we’ll be back in surplus by 2014 but I think even Santa would have trouble delivering on that one. 

Christchurch is a whole lot more broken than I could have imagined when I was there last week and everywhere you look screams massive amounts of money to fix it.  Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal could easily just decide they’re not going to pay back the money they owe in the same way that Argentina did over 10 years ago. It’s served them remarkably well. This could take a super-hero and looking at the pre-election posters it seemed as if the election had descended to caricature. Phil Heatley played a geeky Robin to Key’s mask-like Batman. Post election Winston was even speaking like the Joker; ‘ He’d been marginalised, stigmatised and even demonised’. His words.  His stigmata was not in evidence but the slightly messianic ‘help is coming’ message hinted at him having been crucified by mainstream media. In fact he managed to resurrect himself on the third day with his pinstripe penguin suits and joker smile to smite the people of Gotham city with another enormous spanner to be thrown at Key’s well-oiled political machine. 

The good people of Epsom ended up being nicely shepherded into the corral (baaa!) where they got to have two National MP’s where everyone else just gets one.  This means that a well to do suburb in Auckland now has more stamp in Wellington than most of Northland put together. Farcical and embarrassing but Banks doesn’t seem to think so – with his new glasses he looked like the mad Scientist out of Finneus and Ferb. I wouldn’t be surprised if a platypus is controlling his brain too. He seems intent on reinventing the Act party (never mind that people have supposedly just voted for the old one, this alone makes the Epsom result a joke) and making it into something new. What about a  time machine? Or a banana? And about a million people, most probably the disaffected (young, unemployed), dislocated (refugees from Christchurch) the disinterested (again that would be the young) who didn’t bother to vote at all. Not to forget the whole squadron of people, especially in Northland, two of whom I met this week, who did not vote, not because they didn’t want to but because they just can’t read. That’s right. They are almost entirely illiterate. In New Zealand. I’m not sure that NCEA standards or deep sea drilling or the sale of energy companies is going to address such problems as illiteracy because it arises out of a complex cluster of factors that cause a poverty deeper than that which can be described on a balance sheet.

The South Americans really are much better at true democracy than we are for the simple reason that they were without it for a very long time. It’s a civic duty to vote. Welfare is cut if you don’t. You cannot get a business loan if you don’t. Maybe we could learn something. 

The election is over and the people have spoken but I have a feeling when the hang-over is over we might just wake up to find that  Santa has well and truly sucked the kumara and there is no masked crusader there to take his place.

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