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NZ Election 2017
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Author:  snowman1989 [ Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:05 am ]
Post subject:  NZ Election 2017

Well, here's another opportunity to explain how Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) works in practice. I feel like every other time I've explained it, I keep leaving you with more questions than answers. Hopefully, I'll be more successful this time.

After five weeks of campaigning, it's almost over. The centre-right National Party has taken the most votes at 46% (58 seats), centre-left Labour has taken 35.8% (45 seats), populist NZ First got 7.5% (9 seats), left wing Greens took 5.8% (7 seats), right wing ACT got a pathetic 0.5% (1 seat), the left-leaning newcoming Opportunities Party got 2.2% (yet failed to win a seat), and the indigenous-rights focused Maori Party are facing extinction at 1.1% (no seats).

So what does all of this mean? In a country like the US or the UK, you'd think the answer would be obvious. National won, right? They did win the most votes. A lot of Kiwis feel the same way, with their minds still stuck in the days of first-past-the-post. But under MMP, it isn't that simple.

In most other democracies, this would be considered a hung parliament, meaning no single party has gained a majority of the vote. National has a lot of votes, but they still only have 46%, meaning the majority of Kiwis voted against them. And we haven't counted votes from overseas yet, or from late enrollments, which tend to favour the left, so we can probably expect National to lose a seat or two in the coming days. But even if National's vote percentage remains the same, you cannot legitimately make a new Parliament with less than 50% of the vote (60 seats).

In MMP-style democracies, hung parliaments are not unusual, they are the norm. The idea is to have the big parties bargain with the small parties to add their seats together into coalitions so that they can make a new Parliament in a way so that voters are more fairly represented by their MPs. For instance, in the previous election National made a deal with ACT, United Future (UF) and the Maori Party. But in the latest election the centrist UF was obliterated, and will probably never be seen again. The Maori Party has similarly been banished into the political wilderness, as its voter base considers the party tainted by its association with National - in its glory years, the party was aligned with Labour and has similar votes to what NZ First has now, and the base has never forgiven the party leadership's snub by turning to the right.

Right now, National's only real ally is ACT, probably the party that is the closest equivalent to US Republicans in NZ. And they have clung on by the skin of their teeth. They've won their traditional stronghold in Epsom, but that's only one measly seat, not enough for National to form a government. Were it not for Epsom, they too would have been lost in the wilderness like the rest of National's allies.

Looking at the left, National has more votes than all of them combined. Labour has rebouded after a last-minute leadership change under Jacinda Ardern, while the Greens slumped greatly after former co-leader Matiria Turei admitted to benefit fraud in the 1990s. The Opportunities Party, despite winning more than four times the vote than ACT, didn't gain a seat because it failed to win an electorate like ACT did in Epsom, and failed to win 5% of the vote, which is the threshold needed for a party without an electorate to win a seat in Parliament. It's a noticable flaw of our current system. :? Looking back, Jacinda had an uphill battle, since her predecessors ran the Labour Party into the ground before she took over just a couple of months ago. Back then, the party was polling at around 23%, so the fact she's managed to get back so high up in such a short amount of time is pretty amazing. Still, Labour and their traditional Green allies do not have enough votes on their own to challenge National.

Which leaves NZ First. On the political spectrum, they tend to be right-leaning, but their leader Winston Peters is famously unpredictable and has swung left and right and all over the place. In other words, he's a born opportunist looking for which leading party will give him the better deal. Both Labour and National desperately want his seats, because he has enough to either give National a comfortable 67 seat majority, or Labour-Green a slim majority of 61 seats. In either case, you'd have a legit government. In the last election Winston sided with Labour, but he's formed coalitions with National in the past. Right now, he has the role of Kingmaker, or Queenmaker in Labour's case. Winston reportedly hates that description of his role right now. :lol:

It could be days or even weeks before the rest of the votes are in and Winston's made up his mind. If you read what the media's saying about the election, you'd think National has won. Do NOT think that. New Zealand doesn't use first-past-the-post, we use MMP which focuses on building coalitions in order to gain a fairer representation of our population. It aint over 'till the fat lady sings. Or until Winston stops humming and hawing.

Author:  CWS [ Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NZ Election 2017

That is both interesting and informative, yes. I can see some of the ways in which both our systems struggle to reconcile the need for fair and accurate representation, while also striving to guard against the dangers of majoritarianism. It's no easy task.

Also, that Peters chap sounds bigly familiar, at least from your description. :P

Author:  snowman1989 [ Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NZ Election 2017

There's only one Don. :P Peters is no Trump. For one thing, he's been an active Mp with decades of political experience. He knows what he's doing.

Speaking of whom, he finally made a decision... to side with the left-wing Labour and the Greens, which means together they are the next government. FINALLY. :x I was starting to get angry over our state of limbo. A lot of people were starting to get a little fed up over three weeks of waiting for a new government to form. I'm positive that Winston was trying to make a deal to make himself Prime Minister as part of the coalition agreement, since our new PM Jacinda Ardern's highlighted she's agreed to a proposal to make him her Deputy PM. If that had happened, he'd have become our first ever Maori PM, and also the first PM who wasn't from one of the major parties. By the by, Jacinda is our third female PM now, after Helen Clark (1999-2008) and Jenny Shipley (1997-1999).

Remember, right-wing National got the most seats of any party, even after they lost two after the special votes were counted. The bigger party doesn't always get what they want here. Building coalitions here are the key, and as you might recall, National's allies are virtually all gone, abandoned by their base, their voters absorbed by National or made too small to be of any relevance. Perhaps that was what made NZ First swing left, the thought that they'd soon be weakened with National until there was nothing left. Just a thought.

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