Thursday, December 1, 2016
Today, on Friday, December 2, when we reach to your nearest stands, all political advertising for the Mt Roskill by-election will cease and election signs will be taken down by midnight.
The voting is due on December 3.
The by-election was necessitated by elevation of Phil Goff as Auckland's Mayor in October earlier this year.
With this comes to an end an election campaign that could be safely described as one of the most active, high-decibel, and fiercely contested campaign in recent history.
By-elections in New Zealand parliament is a tricky business, as analysed somewhere else in this edition.
While we hope for the best candidate win, the choice may differ from person to person.
If the recently released report by Trans-Tasman Editors—a widely respected team of Capital insiders— is any indication, then the current National List MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar with five points may have some claim to the best candidate description.
Undeniably, she has been able to ‘rattle’ Labour candidate Michel Wood on some occasions, most notably after the public debate organised by Central Leader in Three Kings, which was mired in allegations and counter-allegations of man-handling.
This is not to suggest by any means that Mr Wood is trailing behind significantly in the claim for the description of the best candidate in the fray.
It is just to acknowledge the Trans Tasman Editor’s report card about Dr Parmar, which states that “[she is an] ambitious MP shooting for the Mt Roskill seat and in line for a promotion if she’s successful.”
However, it is an entirely different matter if Mt Roskill electorate will endorse this report card and oblige in votes.
Mr Wood brings another facet of the ‘mystery of the unknown’ to stake his claim on the best candidate epithet in this by-election.
It is not a coincidence that the Labour Party is seeking to replace one of their veteran and seasoned campaigner Phil Goff with a relatively unknown face in the constituency.
Probably, it may be a calculated strategy to avoid any natural comparison in public eyes that arises automatically when a seasoned and popular leader is sought to be replaced by someone else from the same political party.
So far, Mr Wood has been able to avoid building up any expectation within the public of being similar to Mr Goff.
It is no mean achievement, although, it remains to be seen if this will translate into real votes on the D-day.
Another hopeful to the best candidate description through the pathway of the pull of ‘mysterious unknown’ will be the newly formed New Zealand’s People Party’s candidate Roshan Nauhria. Mr Nauhria is also the founding president of the party.
Since Mt Roskill consists of the most diverse constituency (39% ethnic Asians) and proportion of immigrants (45% of residents were born overseas), there is an expectation in some quarters that Mr Nauhria may gain a substantial chunk of votes.
To what extent will this happen is again something remained to be seen in the future.
What is important to note is that Mr Nauhria has demonstrated some glimpse of taking on the main political parties by threatening to take legal action against Central Leader for failing to invite him to the public debate.
He was able to gain some traction in public minds on that issue.
Again, to what extent that traction will translate into votes is not known yet.
Although it is for sure that the pitch for this by-election has been unusually high, bringing the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition, and other leaders from Wellington repeatedly in the constituency.
It seems that despite public posturing by leaders of main political parties, there is an undercurrent within both, the National and the Labour, to do their best in this last parliamentary election before the 2017 general elections.
This is terrific news for the general public as political leaders on their toes to woo average voters is a sign of a functioning democracy.
It is much-needed in New Zealand’s first election in the post-Trump era.
The nature of the campaign so far has not suggested any effect of Trump-style politics, which may be a sign of relief.
Again, like said many times before, the future is still unknown.
For now, may the best candidate win in this election.