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Within a global context, local government in New Zealand occupies an enviable position: it enjoys both a statutorily-defined ‘power of general competence’ and financial autonomy from central government. However, despite this, voter turnout rates in New Zealand local elections continue to fall as ever fewer New Zealanders engage in this fundamental act of civic engagement. This review article examines the decline in voting over the last four New Zealand local government elections (2010/13/16/19). It aims to do three things: plot the decline; identify and analyse the causes of this decline; and suggest ways in which the decline might be countered. The authors reach the conclusion that local government in New Zealand is at a crossroads – it will either be rejuvenated as a source of local democracy and prosper, or decline into an administrative arm of central government.
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