Monday, October 23, 2017

Queen making

So for a country of less than 5 million people New Zealand doesn't punch above its weight, as the macho boxing metaphor goes, it pioneers above its weight (never mind sport). And the recent election of the world's youngest female political leader (Jacinda Ardern), as mentioned as the first news item on Wiki's front page yesterday, attests to this fact.
What's more, as it is the country that was first to give women the vote, and first to award a university degree to a woman, and first to accept a woman in the role of a church leader (Anglican), and first to elect and twice re-elect a left-wing woman prime minister (Helen Clark), I am of the view that though we have a shamefully high rate of domestic violence and a significant gender pay gap and have just come out of three looooooong terms of a right-wing, male-heavy government with a leader who was one of the first to congratulate Trump, a lot of what we get right is down to this pioneering history of women being in leadership roles in government and society. We also have a number of world-leading women film directors and writers.

That said, it's still a bloody battle. The majority of New Zealanders did not vote for Ardern's Labour Party, but for a fourth term of the male-dominated and led right-wing party that had cut taxes for the rich and done everything to make worse and nothing to improve the quality of life for the majority of New Zealanders or to tackle the serious environmental issues facing the country -- and the world.

But still the majority (45%) voted for them, partly because they had SO much more money to market themselves as the good guys who will make everyone rich and suddenly turn-tack and end poverty and any other bullshit that money could buy. And Ardern and the party with a long history of caring about social justice -- fighting sexism and racism -- and countering the corrupt inequalities of modern capitalism, who had much less money and much more integrity so could not shovel the shit as their shameless opponents did, got just 38% of the vote and had to rely on the Greens and then the centrist party NZ First, which is led by a former right-wing male politician, Winston Peters, to put them into a position to form a centre-left coalition government.

Because Greens would never go right-wing, it was down to Peters to become 'king maker', as he was called by the media, and for 25 days the country was kept in suspense about which way he would go, which was too much power for one man and a party that only got 7% of the vote, even though it was kind of cool that he is an indigenous man, even if he has not necessarily been a friend to his people in the past.

Fortunately he did the right thing and became queen maker instead, but it should not have to be such a bloody battle, for women and for justice. My nails and nerves are not up to it, nor should they have to be. Hopefully Jacinda and her centre-left government will turn the tide for good.

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