The low turnout is still one of the talking points of the 2011 election. Many commentators have drawn attention to it. The questions are always the same: what can have made people so apathetic? Why couldn't they be bothered? Have they no respect for democracy?
One can well understand why young people in particular are asking such questions. It seems inexplicable to them that the politicians didn't turn out for the election. The major parties especially failed to show. Apparently they just couldn't be bothered advancing relevant, realistic, unpatronising policies that spoke to where people are actually at in their lives.
A group of gang members on an Otara street corner were baffled. They couldn't understand why political parties would adopt such a stay-at-home attitude. They found it very discouraging. 'Honestly,' said one, 'you'd think they would care about what happens to this country. But apparently not.'
Two Wellington students were disgusted by the politicians' attitude. 'Democracy is wasted on those people,' said one of them. 'Just once every three years they could at least show up in recognizable human form. It's not a lot to ask.'
Another said she'd expected a big turnout of stimulating ideas but there were none to be seen on the day. 'Doesn't anyone care?' she asked in despair.
Several unemployed twentysomethings who took part in a major current-affairs debate on TV said they thought politicians had issues with reality and should go easy on the drugs.
Just why are political parties so apathetic? It seems they don't see democracy as relevant to their lives. They'd rather play games among themselves and ignore what's happening in the street—or on the planet, for that matter. None of them even mentioned climate change and global warming during the campaign. The world financial crisis scarcely got a look-in. All they ever talked about on Twitter and Facebook was their relationships with each other and the media and who was better-looking or smarter.
It doesn't bode well for future elections.