In a country with 3,487,654 eligible voters, this election attracted 2,877,117 votes cast, according to Wikipedia, with special votes yet to be counted.
I'm thinking this might be a record turnout, at least in recent history, and that could be due to the extended time given for voters to get to a polling booth. It could also be the result of so many voters seeing how crucial a period in history this is and they want to have a say in how it turns out. I look forward to seeing the official figures.
Of course there are many, while eligible to vote, do not register, for reasons of religion, apathy or disillusionment with the democratic process.
That's disappointing, especially knowing how hard our ancestors fought for universal franchise. To take it lightly is to have no respect for history and, worse, even less respect for the future. The democratic process and its results can rest on one vote, but so many refuse to see how valuable their vote can be. Still, they too have, in a way, spoken. Just not very loudly. In this case, they are the silent minority.
Now the celebrations are over, the hangovers have faded, the winners' euphoria softened by the prospect of three years' hard work still to come, and the losers' disappointment replaced with a determination to make a term in opposition count for something. As far as National is concerned, campaigning for the next election has started.
As far as Advance NZ is concerned, the conspiracy theories are mounting to the point where the whole vote was rigged, apparently, which was the only reason why Billy TK is not prime minister now. The lies have already hit social media and so few question them. There is a falsehood doing the rounds that 200,000 votes were disallowed and they were all for Advance NZ. Those who ask for proof are immediately labelled disloyal. Scary.
Politics has taken a funny turn. Remember when there were political parties formed to take the mickey? Their job was to poke fun at the establishment and have a laugh. Not anymore. Now we have joke parties that actually take themselves seriously and don't understand it when the clown doesn't get elected. Then they throw their toys out of the playpen and claim 'unfair'. Sad, but true.
This election saw the demise of NZ First and the end of the political career of the grand old man of New Zealand politics, Winston Peters. I hope he gets a chance to give his valedictory speech before retiring on his very generous, taxpayer funded pension, a reward for many years of faithful service. I'm sure he has things to say to New Zealand in general, and perhaps something he hasn't said yet.
Steph Lewis has taken Whanganui, the first time the electorate has been Labour since 2005 when Chester Borrows won against incumbent Jill Pettis and made it a National seat for five terms, if you include the last one with Harete Hipango as MP. To overturn 15 years of Blue is no mean feat and to do it with such a large majority (more than 6800) says something for Steph and for Jacinda Ardern.
To take the seat so convincingly looks great on the night, but it also puts a lot of pressure on the new MP to come up with the goods and perform. Obviously many who previously voted National had a rethink and put their money on Steph, but they will want to see results they can measure, and fair enough.
Every party with designs on country leadership makes promises to get votes, and the winner can't afford to take those promises lightly. With such a landslide victory comes an expectation that Labour will deliver, whether it governs alone or with the aid of the Greens, and the electorate will be waiting for results. Disappointment will have its revenge at the next election.
But New Zealand does not expect to be let down, or they would not have given such a clear mandate to Jacinda and all the Labour MPs. The constituents have made it plain they have faith in the ability of the new Government to give New Zealand an economic makeover and repair the damage of Covid.
It won't be easy, not while the rest of the world, including our trading partners, are struggling with the catastrophic results of the pandemic. The virus has restricted movement of people and goods and made it difficult for any government to use the usual methods to restore the economy, boost trade and increase jobs.
It's a hard row to hoe but the voters, especially those whose votes were not tinted red, will not accept excuses, no matter how valid. They want to see improvement, which means they need to see fresh ideas, new solutions and quick results.
There will be no honeymoon period for the new Government, little time for them to take stock. It is expected that work will have started already and that things are now in motion to bring about positive change and validate the confidence of the voters.
The landslide was an indication of confidence, but also hope tinged with cynicism, and there will be plenty expecting failure.
How tough is that, especially with so many new MPs who are expected to hit the ground running?
So congratulations to the Prime Minister and to Steph, our new MP. It's time to get to work.