Posts Tagged ‘Maori party’

NZ left-wing govt elected…or not

November 22, 2008

Grrrr – the desire to let vent with a righteous “I told you so” is incredible about now. The Chief Electoral Office has just released the final NZ 2008 election results, and the National-Act-Dunne government stands.

Total MPs are:

  • National 58, Act 5, United 1
  • Maori 5
  • Labour 43, Anderton 1, Greens 9

News and opinions are up at NZ Herald and Stuff (both based on a NZ Press Association article, which incorrectly equates a 0.32% party vote gain for the Greens as 70,000 party votes – it is actually a rise of 22,991 votes), and National party activist blog Kiwiblog (who notes how close Labour came to pinching another MP off National).

Update: The Greens now have their views up on the final result.

But it should have been close, and wasn’t. Why?

Because the arrogant left-wing parties that used to form the government refused to even consider the desperate need to remove the 5% threshold gerrymander (it was raised informally with them regularly over the last 5 years). Without any threshold (and with no rounding up of partial MPs), a Labour-Anderton-Greens-Maori-NZFirst government was possible. It would even have been able to be formed if we took the ‘natural’ 0.83% threshold (equating to earning 1 list MP) and rounded. Sigh.

No-threshold results (meaning no discarded votes) would have been:

  • National 53, Act 4, United 1
  • Maori 5
  • Labour 40, Anderton 1, Greens 8, NZ First 4

giving a total of 116 with a majority of 58 (including speaker) to Labour-Greens-NZFirst (the lower total seats is despite the 2 overhang seats of the Maori Party, and is caused by rounding all parties partial MPs down – they have to earn the full MP to get them).

Taking the ‘natural’ 0.83% threshold and rounding up or down partial MPs would have given:

  • National 55, Act 4, United 1
  • Maori 5
  • Labour 42, Anderton 1, Greens 8, NZ First 5

giving a total of 122 MPs with majority (including speaker) of 61 to Labour.

Of course, that assumes people would still have voted the same way, which they almost certainly would not have if they knew the threshold was changed or not there at all. One assumes voters would be less inclined to tick the ‘media stunt’ Bill & Ben Party, and that voters would be more likely to vote for minor parties like Family Party, Kiwi Party, NZ Pacific Party as they had a more realistic chance of getting the roughly 12,500 or 17,000 votes (depending on whether you round or not) required to EARN a list MP.

An interesting sidepoint is that with a 0.83% threshold  – or better still with none – the annoying “win 1 electorate and get all your party vote, even if under 5%” rule would be unnecessary, simplifying the rules nicely.

Incidentally, all other variations of threshold and ’rounding vs truncation’ would give a National-led government, sometimes with 1 MP each to the (supposedly) Christian fundamentalist Kiwi Party and to the Bill & Ben Party. But if people want those parties to represent their views in Parliament, so be it – that’s democracy. What is not democracy is the stupid Labour-Greens MPs and party workers sitting on their hands complacently, wondering why they are now in opposition for the next 3 years! And the NZ public have had 153,461 of their votes ignored…

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Political pundit poppycock

August 13, 2008

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?