The Freedom We Take for Granted
by Kawther Hamdi
Article courtesy of Merge Magazine
I know that election year is not like any other year. You can hear the ripples way before election date is announced and, as the date approaches, the heat of debating, accusations, reacting and retaliation reaches boiling temperatures. Even voices take a higher pitch and reach an unparalleled crescendo.
I also know that people here are used to these activities and take them in their stride…nothing to get excited about. New Zealanders are well conversant with democratic practices. They will sit back and let the politicians do their act and those who have not already made up their minds, will have the luxury to choose the candidate or the party that will address their needs and concerns. End of story.
But is it for me? I am a migrant who came from a police state where “elections” did take place, but only one candidate stood. He did not have to promote himself and his achievements …people loved him and he was the Leader and woe on the citizen who did not show up to vote. As for not writing the Leader’s name on the ballot, well, that was just beyond contemplation. Yes, we also got ripples prior to the elections day but these consisted of rumours, harassment and intimidation. So effective were these tools, the citizen was either brainwashed or becomes a nervous wreck but the result was the same, they would all go and vote for the Supreme Leader.
Election for me is the actual practice of democracy, it is the fresh air that you start to breathe after being confined to a closed place, and it is freedom at its best.
The first time I voted in NZ, I was extremely excited and got involved in debates and speeches. I read all there was to read about the candidates, I discussed it with my NZ and Iraqi friends. At home, the debate continued, my daughter differed with me, as for my son; he wouldn’t even tell us his choice. It was an exciting time culminating on the day of elections when I proudly marched to the voting booth and put a name I chose.
After six years of living in NZ, I have become even more passionate about elections and the freedom of choice. This year I shall march to the voting poll with more pride for I feel that I belong and my choice will make a difference.