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May 23, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Campaigns Officer

On 26 November, we will vote to decide the composition of the 50th New Zealand Parliament. The ideological battle-lines have already been drawn. The choice is clear. With the formation of Hone Harawira’s left-wing Mana Party, the resurrection of ’90s monetarist crusader Don Brash, and the imminent return of quasi-fascist John Banks, election year 2011 promises to be an interesting one. If a touch nostalgic. I predict it will also be a decisive one. There can only be one winner in the battle of ideas.

Will the forces of the Right succeed in their quest for a free-market utopia? Or will the Left stop them in the name of equality? Could that old battler Winston Peters be (to use a Bushism) ‘the decider’? Will the Greens finally make it into government? Is Peter Dunne about to make the Christian vote relevant again? Ah, the suspense. It’s not my place to tell you who to vote for. But I do urge you to vote for someone, or, something. We aren’t helpless by-standers in this election. We do have a say, and it does count.

I’m not going to preach to you about the virtues of voting but to say that students shouldn’t be complacent when it comes to exercising their democratic rights. The Budget last week gave us a taste of what we can expect from a second-term centre-right government. More spending cuts, less redistribution of wealth, and an even tougher time for those on low-incomes. Like it or not, these things affect you. Whether it’s the cost of food, changes to student loan eligibility criteria, or cuts to public services. You will feel the pinch somehow. And you’re entirely justified in asking just where it is leading. What is the government’s long-term plan to address these problems? Or is ‘zero Budget’ really just a euphemisim for zero ideas? You’re also entitled to ask what the alternatives are.

I don’t mean to couch it in such negative terms. Well, actually, I do. But don’t get me wrong: it may be that you support the Key Government. And good for you, if you do. Just don’t let that stop you from engaging with the issues. That means asking the tough questions. Make an informed choice on 26 November, but above all, vote for what you believe in.

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