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Saturday, 29 November 2008


Auckland City Council at elected level cannot claim anything like a mandate, although the way it throws its weight around you would think it had one.

It is so unrepresentative that it is fundamentally undemocratic. Only 37.9% of those who were registered on the electoral roll, and only 31.7% of the eligible population (18+), bothered to vote.

The ruling party, Citizens & Ratepayers, certainly does not have a representative majority because only 23.17% of the eligible population voted for the 12 councillors who belong to it or are alinged with it. The mayor, John Banks, was supported by only 42.8% of those who did vote, and therefore by a mere 12.7% of those who were eligible to.

The very concept of parties in local government is outside the spirit and letter of the Local Government Act 2002, because all who are elected must at their swearing-in promise to be impartial and to act the best of their own skill and judgement. Belonging to a party--being partisan--means by definition that you cannot be impartial, and being driven by party whips means you cannot be acting to the best of your own skill and judgement. But Auckland is dominated and ruled by parties, and not just on the council. Three-quarters of the people who stood for community board stood on party tickets, mostly Citizens & Ratepayers, City Vision and Labour.

Thames-Coromandel District Council, in contrast, is in harmony with the statutory declaration and a democratic mandate, because there are no parties. Every member of its nine-member council is an independent. Thames-Coromandel uses the single-transferrable-vote system at the moment because the community voted for it, so individual tallies are not reported in the official results. But figures from Independent Election Services, which does the count, show the measure of the council‘s mandate, because 53% of the registered electorate voted, which is high by national standards; and 51.6% of those registered voted for the mayor, Philippa Barriball, giving her 97.33% of the allocation in the final iteration. Only 2.67% of the population do not want her at all.