Botany campaign

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

Dene Mackenzie has a background piece for the ODT online on the Botany electorate, in which ACT candidate Kenneth Wang is hoping to win the seat. This follows an earlier piece in the New Zealand Herald. Both articles highlight some apparently racist traits of non-Asian voters in the electorate. From the Herald:

[A voter], who wanted to be known only as Sandy, 24, said: “It’s ridiculous that I receive flyers in my mailbox from the candidates in Chinese or whatever, and I am made to feel like I’m a foreigner in my homeland’s election.”

She said she was “really sick” of the “Chinese-style campaigns” and would give her vote “to any other candidates … except the Chinese ones”.

It’s sad to see this view in 2008 and in this case it’s startling, given that the opinion is from a comparatively younger voter who has likely grown up in an increasingly multi-ethnic Auckland. But it’s a reminder of how progressive the United States is in comparison: where campaign materials are frequently provided in Spanish – I think Barack Obama even spoke in Spanish at one event.

I’m not sure how all this affects Wang’s chances of winning the seat – given that the three highest-profile candidates (Wang, National candidate Pansy Wong and Labour candidate Koro Tawa) are all of a non-white background. But remember: National is known as New Zealand’s conservative party for a reason. From Mackenzie’s piece:

At Jacob’s Cafe, only the staff were Asian as I settled down next to Glad and Allan Jamieson. They are both in their 80s and have lived in the village for most of their married life.

They are committed National voters and will be voting for Mrs Wong and giving National their party vote.

But even they are starting to feel a bit peeved about the wave of new immigrants and new housing.

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