Political pundit poppycock

Gak! The paucity of useful political analysis in NZ has just been shown yet again, with Canterbury University politics fellow Dr Terese Arsenau blithering on at TVNZ about Labour’s chances of retaining government in this year’s election.

What distinguishes an otherwise bland statement of facts from the nonsense laid out, is that Arsenau is still wedded to the old First Past the Post (FPP) electoral mindset. She ponders “whether the Greens – or the Maori Party – would think it appropriate to prop up Labour” if Labour got substantially less MP’s than National (but both National and Labour were short of 50% of seats). According to Arsenau:

Would such an arrangement be judged as a legitimate outcome or the hijack of the election from the rightful winner? 

This shows Arsenau still thinks a government must have a ‘large party’ (i.e. National or Labour) as the major player in a government. MMP possibilities (assuming no overhang for simplicity)  like a government of 61 MPs from 61 separate parties is possible, though hugely unlikely. Equally, a government of 3 parties each with 21 MPs – giving a majority with 63 MPs – does not require any one party in the coalition government to be dominant.

Even if one party in a coalition government is dominant, that does not mean they can – or should – expect to get support and laws passed in direct proportion to their proportion of the coalition governments seats (the much lamented ‘tail wagging the dog’). The balance depends on how closely aligned the colaitions party positions are.

Labour had no trouble supporting a Green Member’s Bill (S59 amendment), and taking most of the flack instead of Sue Bradford and the Greens – because most Labour MP’s also supported that law change. By contrast, Labour’s dominant position in the 2005-08 government has not meant an easy ride for their Emmissions Trading Scheme Bill, which may yet fail to get passed due to lack of Green party support. Why? Because the way Labour has framed the Bill has been so far from Green party views on how to tackle emmissions, that they are struggling to support Labour on it.

So, Arsenau’s contention that there is some ‘moral obligation’ for minor parties to support the single largest party to form a coalition government is blithering nonsense. Any group of parties that can get a majority of MPs to support them on confidence & supply votes can form a government.

The true ‘viability test’ for a coalition government is how they manage the legislative demands of the coalition’s respective parties to get a ‘fair’ balance that satisfies each party enough to stay in the coalition. That is something each party currently judges with an eye to how many successes they want and who they can blame for failures, at the next election. Perhaps this ad hoc system of legislative balance is something Arsenau could illuminate?

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: