2011 New Zealand General Election

Bored of the US’s interminable election cycle? Want to discuss an election that’ll be over in less than four weeks time? Well this is the thread for you fellow political junkie.

New Zealand goes to the polls on November 26. Campaigning started last week and the whole thing will be officially wrapped up by 10 December (actual results will be known over the night of election day though). As always wikipedia has a good pageon the subject.

The NZ voters will also be asked to vote in a referendum on the electoral system. Currently New Zealand uses the Mixed Member Proportional system and has done since 1993. Voters will be asked two questions; whether they wish to stick with MMP or not and which of four systems they prefer.

The MMP System
Under MMP voters get to cast two votes, one for their local member of parliament (essentially the same as in First past the post systems) and one for the political party they prefer. There are 70 electorates and 50 list seats* in the New Zealand parliament. The list seats are allocated to political parties to bring their total number of seats up to the proportion they received in the party vote. So a party who receives 40% of the party vote will end up with a total of 48 seats in the 120 seat parliament, made up of that party’s successful electorate candidates and as many list MPs as are needed to reflect the party’s overall percentage of the party vote.

So as a voter you get to separately choose the person you would like to represent your electorate in parliament *and *the political party you would like to see in government.

  • Actually there are currently 122 MPs in the NZ parliament as the Maori party won more electorate seats (5) than their 2.39% of the party vote would entitle them to (3). But as those MPs were selected by the local voters of those electorates they are entitled to sit in Parliament.

Coming up next - the political parties…

Who do you think won the leader’s debate lisiate?

The Parties
There are currently eight political parties who have seats in the New Zealand Parliament and one more which has a realistic possibility of obtaining seats in this year’s election. Let’s look at them in order of their current size.

National Party - 44.93% in 2008, 58 seats.
The National party is a broadly conservative, centre-right party which has traditionally been supported by rural electors (and still is - take a look at the 2008 electoral results map). They are the majority party in the current coalition government and are led by the incredibly popular (for reasons I can’t quite fathom) John Key. They are currently polling at an unhead of 55% more or less. Their overall victory seems assured unless something rather dramatic happens in the next few weeks. This despite a frankly uninspiring term in government and nothing particularly innovative in their policy announcements.

Labour Party - 33.99% in 2008, 42 seats
Centre-left, traditionally linked ot Trade Unions and the like. The largest party in oppostion, having been heavily defeated in the 2008 election. Despite a change of leadership, Labour still seems to be run by the same old faces, and National has been very successful in blaming all sorts of things on the previous, Labour-led government. Currently polling at around 29%. May be able to claw up to around 32% if they’re lucky.

Green Party - 6.72% in 2008, 9 seats
A relatively young party, promoting environmental proteciton and sustainable economic development rather than growth at all costs. Have benefited most from Labour’s decline, and now poll at around 10%. I’m consistently impressed by the calibre of the Green MPs. despite not always agreeing with the party’s overall message I find myself likely to support them for the first time. Will probably poll around 10% and get 12 MPs.

ACT Party - 3.65% in 2008, 5 seats
Currently a member of the government coalition. Originally a broadly liberterian party, focused on small government and the like. More recently ACT has degenerated into a loose coalition of disparate fringe groups. Seems to attract some pretty crazy MPs (one of whom resigned this year after it was revealed he had obtained a passport using a dead baby’s identity, ala Day of the Jackal, was replaced by a new member who entertains the House with bizarre diatribes about Maori living at the bottom of the sea). Had a strange leadership coup earlier this year when non-member and former National Party leader Don Brash wrested control of the party from Rodney Hide. In real danger of being excluded from parliament this time around unless they can take one electorate seat in particular.

Maori Party- 2.65% in 2008, 4 seats (initially 5 but see below).
As the name implies a party devoted to the interests of Maori. Won 5 of the seven Maori electorates, but didn’t gain as much party vote support. Against expectations agreed to enter into the National-led coalition government which led to one MP defecting earlier this year and forming his own party. Led by the avuncular Peter Sharples and grand-motherly Tariana Turia, who strike me as a bit nice for the whole Parliamentary thing. Might lose some seats to their split with the newly formed:

Mana Party - new, one seat.
One man band formed by Hone Harawira after he grew disgusted by his Maori Party colleagues dealings with National. Possibly hte most left-wing of all the MPs in the house, prone to some horrible gaffes but there’s no denying his passion and commitment. Harawira recently confirmed his mandate with a by-election and will probably retain his seat without bringing anyone else into Parliament with him.

United Future 0.87%, 1 seat.
Another one man band based on Peter Dunne, who has held his seat since the 1984. Basically the antithesis of Harawira, bland, white and oh so rational. Bores me senseless but his locals keep voting him back in.

New Zealand First 4.07% in 2008, 0 seats
Failing to win any electorate seates or gain more than 5% of the total party vote meant this party is currently outside of parliament. Led by the comeback king Winston Peters I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he can soak up a few disaffected National voters and reclaim his position as a centrist king-maker.

Didn’t watch it, as it was only Goff v Key. The minor parties debate is usually more entertaining. I like to watch the various flavours of crazy steal the show while the more rational leaders stare on in dismay…

What’s your view on MMP? I was living in NZ at the time of the original referendum in 1993 and I voted for the STV option. Is it on offer again this time round?

I’m firmly in favour of MMP. It allows representation for parties with widespread support across the country who can’t command the numbers to win any single electorate. It’s also brought an end to the Labour and National monopoly on power. The minor coalition parties have made a difference in my opinion and have moderated both Labour and National when they’re in power. A return to FPP would be a huge step backwards.

Yes STV is up as one of the options in this year’s referendum. However, I prefer MMP to it and so won’t be supporting it.

I was thinking of starting a similar thread, but realised I’m just not that into it.

Thanks lisiate, for being so proactive.

I didn’t watch the leaders debate either but thought the most telling thing was that Key thinks it’s wrong to call him a liar because it’s disrespectful to the office of Prime Minister. Shame he doesn’t think it’s disrespectful to the office for the Prime Minister to lie.

Last time round I voted STV, as I thought that MMP gave disproportionate amounts of power to small “swing vote” parties that held the balance of parliament.

Having seen MMP in operation (and Winnie in particular) I haven’t changed my mind.

Voting system options

I’d keep the voting system the same, but if they did decide to change it, I’d have a look at the Suplementary member system. on the face of it, it looks OK.

National party policy.

Labour party policy.

Green party policy.

ACT Policies policy.

Maori party policy

Mana party policy.

Consevative Party. I have no idae who these guys are, but I’ve seen heaps of their billboards around.

I haven’t read through any of this stuff yet, but at least I can find it, unlike last election, where I could only find the act party, for some stupid reason.

NZ First

United future

Forgot some of our minor-party friends.

A reasonable criticism. I fear that a large proportion of voters would cast donkey votes under STV, putting their favourite candidate at 1 and just ranking the rest in order.

No worries, I’d like to see what some non-NZ dopers have to say so I thought I’d get the ball rolling.

Was Key’s lie the raising GST thing? That was pretty blatent in my opinion.

That was the one Goff referenced, but Key did wiffle about ‘circumstances changing’ or some such when asked directly if he lied to the public.

Goff jumped in with a prompt and pompous “I’d *never *lie!” and came off looking completely insincere.

That’s when I changed back to the Amazing Race.

Well to be fair to Key circumstances did change, his government cut the top income tax rate…

Here’s what Key said: (via The Dimpost blog)

I suppose you could be charitable and say National’s raising of the GST was an admission that they hadn’t done “a half decent job as a government at growing our economy.” But that’s a pretty strained interpretation.

yeah - I suspect much the same, that it’s too complex for many to understand

“I didn’t lie, circumstances changed - because we changed them.” [Tui] Yeah Right [/Tui]

Will the World Cup win help the incumbent government, or is that just a journalistic furphy?

Well we’ve only got one prior example to go on.

In 1987 the incumbent Labour government was returned with a slightly increased majority following a World Cup win.

Given that National was already polling at around 55% before the Cup started it’s hard to see how they could have got much more of a bump really. As an aside, no party has ever won more than 50% of the vote in New Zealand’s history (even including the FPP elections). The record is 48.7% by Labour in 1972. So if National can maintain their poll numbers on the night it’ll be a first.

Will this election finally see the end of Winston Peters?

Apart from the voting system, what are the salient issues in Kiwi politics this year? Budget, taxes, jobs, what?