Sunday, 9 November 2008

NZ votes against a lurch to the left

New Zealand voters have rejected the Labour Party's bid for an historic 4th term in government, and soundly rejected the lurch to the left trumpeted by commentators like Chris Trotter, if a L/P/G/NZF government was elected.

Turnout was 78.69% (including special votes). That's despite an extra 41,100 people voting, compared to the 2005 election. A record 2,979,366 people enrolled to vote in 2008, but a sizeable 634,262 people didn't make it to a voting booth.

John Key's super-centre National Party did well on the night, but didn't get the outright majority some old-school over-confident party people were hoping for.

National have accepted they need the support of the Act Party to have a Parliamentary majority, and have also adopted the party-of-one known as United Peter Dunne.

Key is also planning to reach out to the Maori Party, who will likely see sense in working with the new government, rather than spending another 3 years on the Opposition benches.

Despite what some of the Maori Party's supporters may think, the party does share a number of similar policy areas and philosophies with Act and National.
Unfortunately, the Maori Party didn't really succeed in raising their share of the party vote, but did gain one more MP (creating an overhang of 2 seats). Wellington lawyer and treaty specialist Rahui Katene managed to snare Te Tai Tonga (the South Island and lower Wellington) from Labour's Mahara Okeroa.

Luckily, the Maori Party's Marxist academic Angeline Greensill didn't succeed in her bid to take the seat of Hauraki-Waikato off Nanaia Mahuta. That may improve the party's chances of being able to work constructively with a National/Act/UF coalition government over the next term and beyond.

Meanwhile, NoMinister blogger Adolf Fiinkensein really owes me an organic lager for disagreeing with my pre-election pick that the Green Party wouldn't get near the 10% that pollsters and the media were tipping ;-)

The Greens vote doesn't tend to hold up on election day, perhaps because of apathy (ie. not voting), or a sense of reality when people get into the voting booth.

The Greens did gain 2 more MPs (still well short of their expectation of a good dozen), and have the prospect of gaining a third (Lecturer Dr Kennedy Graham) after the 200,000-odd special votes come in. The Greens do campaign hard overseas, and tend to pick up a larger-than-average share of the special votes.

The other main contender for an extra seat after special votes is Labour, with defeated West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor next on the party list.

The electorate tends to support National on the party vote, but O'Connor has previously survived by being a strong local MP, and putting local issues ahead of toeing the party line.

Labour's Hillin Cluck and Michael Cullen have both announced plans to step down from their leadership roles in the party, with a formal transition expected before Christmas.

Defence Minister Phil Goff is still being tipped as the most likely candidate to take over leader, especially after the relatively poor performance by the left's boy David Cunliffe in New Lynn, and his apparent expression of disinterest in the top job.

The Bill and Ben Party did very well for their first election campaign, gaining 0.51% of the party vote. That left them the 3rd highest polling party not to win a seat in Parliament, with only NZ First (4.21%) and the Kiwi Party (0.56%) polling higher.

Bill & Ben proved more popular than the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (0.36%), Taito Philip Field's Pacific Party (0.33%), Destiny Church's Family Party (0.33%), and political veterans the Alliance (0.08%), Democrats for Social Credit (0.05%), and the Libertarianz (0.05%).

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