12 Nov 2016

Why Chlöe Swarbrick is sticking with politics

12:05 pm on 12 November 2016

Having weighed her options after placing third in the Auckland mayoral race last month, Chlöe Swarbrick plans to stand for the Green Party in next year’s General Election. She tells us how she made the choice.

Chlöe Swarbrick

Chlöe Swarbrick Photo: Luke McPake/The Wireless

You have said previously that you weren’t interested in politics at the level of government. What changed your mind?

There’s quite a few variables that went into the decision. Majorly, it’s looking at the context of 2016 and nationally we’ve seen there is a general sentiment towards anti-establishment, people are unhappy with the status quo and the system as it currently stands, and I’ve found it really unfortunate watching that unfold in relatively negative ways.

I think that there's a lot more dogma, the world is probably more polarised than it has been in the last several years. Considering the campaign and the number of people I talked to, during and afterwards I think that I can contribute in some way or another, and if I can lend my skills to a positive change then, yeah, I’ll do it.

How long have you been talking to the Greens?

[Greens co-leader] James Shaw Twitter messaged me during the campaign saying it was going well, and then after the campaign I sat down with the Greens and I talked to a few other parties and organisations and people who were interested in seeing what I was up to next.

To be quite frank and open I’ve always voted for the Greens in the past, and this decision to pin my colours is not one I take lightly. I value my independence incredibly highly, so it comes from discussing - obviously you know what their values are from looking at the party’s constitution per se - but really talking to the people has made the final decision for me.

How many parties approached you?

I was approached by a few, a handful.

Did you consider Labour?

I did. I had quite a few considerations but what it basically came down to was the fact that I align the most with the Greens and what they offer New Zealand politics. The alternative opportunity - that's not really an option - was to start my own thing, which I know quite a few of my supporters really wanted to see me do.

But again to be completely honest, essentially that came down to evaluating all of the different variables and what that would be and what that would look like, and being completely aware personally of my shortcomings or at least where my inexperience lies, I don’t think that that would be the best way to contribute to the New Zealand political landscape at the moment.

Are you running for an electorate or as a list MP?

I have joined the Greens but I’m still going through the candidate process, so I haven’t actually been confirmed as a candidate in the election next year, but my intention is absolutely to run. If I’m fortunate in getting into the candidate pool then I will definitely be running for an electorate.

What do you think your chances are of getting into the candidate pool?

It’s an incredibly democratic process, so I think it would come across as self-aggrandising if I said that my chances were super high. All I can say really is I hope I get in.

What would you like to achieve by joining the Green Party?

More than anything what this allows for again is people now know where I stand in the New Zealand political landscape. What it does mean is that there are quite a few people who voted for me in the mayoralty who interestingly identify themselves as on the right of the political spectrum, and those people have contacted me and said that they’re disappointed with this decision.

What I hope comes out of this is a change in dialogue again, so I hope that I, in my potential candidacy am able to open up a few more conversations up around what these political parties actually represent because we do know that even in New Zealand there's quite a lot of dogma and ideology and a lot of preconceived notions about who supports what party.

I think that New Zealand politics and politics all around the world right now needs a lot more collaboration and more open minds.     

I think one of the major things that I really tried to capture with that video is more than anything I think what we need is to have a super viable positive political option, because again talking about what’s happening in the international and national political context, particularly in the international political context right now, is there seems to be a lot of people vying for destruction of the system as it currently stands, and I’d like to see a change in the system internally and for the system to be opened up to people so they understood what I was and what it represented. Basically, it just comes down to wanting to represent a positive change.