Craccum checks in with students ahead of the election
*All names have been changed for anonymity
While every general election is usually rife with division and apprehension, many would argue that the upcoming election just feels that little bit more intense. For many students, this election will be extra exciting because it marks the very first time they’re eligible to vote. For the rest of us geriatric oldies who’ve already voted before, this election is another reminder to make sure everyone you know gets their asses to the voting booths on the day.
Although the mainstream media is currently saturated with the coverage of election promises and which politicians shat on which policy, here at Craccum, we’re more curious about finding out how students are feeling about the contentious election ahead. Who needs the Herald’s polls when you’ve got Craccum stickers to entice approachable-looking students on campus to dish out their political hot takes?
What Do Students Care About?
At the top of the list was, of no surprise to anyone who’s recently purchased a Munchy Mart pie, the cost of living crisis.
For Lisa, the rising cost of being alive has not only meant that they’ve had to carefully budget their expenses, but also to make sacrifices.
“Many of us would rather not eat lunch to be able to [afford] doing something fun with our friends.”
For students who are flatting, “extortionate” flat rental prices have only added extra financial pressure to find ways to stretch each dollar bill.
Max feels that paying high rent prices, on top of “extortionate food prices and energy prices” has made living simply “too expensive.”
While he cares about climate change and “all those kinds of classic issues”, Max argues that it’s hard not to categorise the cost of living crisis as the top priority.
“At the moment, it’s hard to look that far in the future [when] the immediate issues are so pressing. Our day-to-day life isn’t good and we’re spending way too much money just to live.”
Likewise, Gemma felt that because of the “pretty gnarly” rental market, this has made the option of gapping from the country that little bit more appealing.
“Many people are considering going to Australia because you can earn so much more there.”
Outside of the cost of living, the Fees-Free policy ranked high on the Family Feud list of student priorities.
Kevin advocated that Fees-Free should be extended to second year because “it just eases off the pressure.”
“When you get into the workforce, there’s less pressure to pay off loans. It lets students have more of a clean slate by being in less debt.”
For Jess, the first year Fees-Free policy is the main reason why she is at “university right now.”
“The policy gave me the time to put money aside to afford the next year. Why make it harder for students and young people? Education should be more accessible.”
Rivalling the spot of the Fees-Free is, of course, public transport. After all, everyone knows that the day that Auckland Transport has zero haters, that means all tertiary students have dropped dead.
Lara, who lives in Flat Bush, said that it takes almost two hours for her to reach campus using public transport.
“Even though the government has taken some action to help students, like the student concession for AT Hop, the system needs to be better.”
Jack, who lives in the North Shore, feels that taking public transportation into campus wastes too much of his time.
“It’s such a pain. To get anywhere [on public transport], it can take an extra hour. I need time to study and I can’t exactly do that waiting at a bus station.”
The Future is National?
Any good-standing political scientist would agree that the best predictor of election outcomes is by running around campus and asking students to pretend to look into a crystal ball. Out of the students we interviewed, overwhelmingly people felt that National is the party most likely to win this year’s election.
“With Covid, everyone’s kind of sick of Labour and what they’ve done to our economy,” said Tristan.
Similarly, Dan felt that the high inflation rates facing the country would help National to take the cake.
“Hashtag less taxes. People feel like their money is being taken away from them. Sometimes that goes to a good cause, but other times we don’t know where it’s going.”
Emily said that National’s “tough on crime” policies have helped the party gain popular support because they “speak to the traditional, conservative parts of New Zealand society.”
“We’re seeing in the media this flush of penal populism and a panic around crime.”
Many students, like Josh, feel that Labour’s scandals are causing the party to “shoot themselves in the foot.”
While Fiona does not want National to win, “Labour’s administration, and Jacinda, who received a lot of hate towards the end of her term, has ruined their reputation.”
“I feel like Auckland and New Zealand just hate Labour, period.”
“Chris Hipkins is great, but the rest of his party is falling apart,” added Samantha.
Other students believed that the general political trends of politics in this country would help National secure a win.
“In a two-party system, it’s going to swing back and forth. People get tired and then the political system swings back the other way. It’s all pointless to me,” shared Chelsea.
“For decades, it’s just tended to [swing] from Labour, then National. There’s a huge focus on social issues and then that [swings] back to economic issues,” commented Ruby.
However, some students felt that Labour would secure another term.
“Just from watching the news, I feel like their policies will speak to and benefit the most New Zealanders,” commented Andrew.
Terry argues that there is an incumbency bias in politics broadly, and consequently, voters are more likely to continue supporting the party already in power.
“For example, the left seems to have powered on in Spain. When it comes down to election time, people are very reluctant to switch parties. I expect this to be a close election, but I think Labour will win.”
Voting is Confusing, But Democracy is Sexy!
In our conversations with the students we interviewed, many still felt unsure about who to cast their vote for.
For example, Felix commented that he feels like there wasn’t a political party that “truly represents what I think politically.”
“My plan is to just do the political compass test and see which party aligns most closely.”
Others commented that they felt that our current political leaders didn’t resonate with their values.
“Chris Hipkins just gives me Trump vibes. He never answers the question and I feel like he’s out of touch with everything,” commented Tracey.
“Christopher Luxon feels a bit robotic and out of touch,” remarked Indigo.
Clara said that what’s most important to her in a leader is someone “who feels human.”
“Maybe some of [Jacinda’s] policies weren’t the greatest, but she was such an empathetic person.”
While election policies and politics can be an overwhelming and confusing space to navigate, resources like Vote Compasses and policy explainers can be important tools for making the decision a little easier. But what matters most is making sure to get your vote in when election day rolls around.