Sunday, September 21, 2014

That's democracy I guess

Five of us turned up to that "election party", which was in Khandallah of all places. It was about as much fun as it can be when a party wins untrammelled power and has nought percent support among us. Which was quite fun actually.

The Great Election Night Shift of Oh-five didn't materialise this time; National kept up their massive two-to-one advantage over Labour pretty much all evening, and with the Greens barely scraping double figures, it was a bloodbath. It wasn't long before we were resigned to watching the close race for the party vote between United Future and the Ban 1080 Party (United Future won by 165 votes).

Winston went up in my estimation during the campaign, and he didn't get too far off the 10% he wanted. In his excellent election-night speech he used the word "internecine". He'll bring in ten other MPs (whom I know nothing about) but I don't know whether he'll get to wield any electoral power. The Greens will have 13 MPs, losing one, and I don't think the specials will help them (I'm sure they'll gain vote share from the specials, but they're currently closer to 12 seats than 14; it'll take a huge shift for them to gain a 14th seat).

As for Labour, the massive difference between their electorate and party votes really stood out. In Rongotai (right next to me), Annette King outpolled the National candidate two to one, but Labour still lost the party vote to National. That pattern was repeated up and down the country. If I were a Labour strategist I'd be analysing the bajeezus out of all 71 electorates, mapping each polling place, trying to figure out what the hell just happened. There seems to be a lot of disunity in the party. Should they change their leader - again? Maybe my local MP Grant Robertson will take over, but his sexuality might be a stumbling block. I know, it's 2014...
(Side note: Rongotai contains the Chatham Islands so is technically the vastest electorate.)

National are a well-oiled machine and Brand Key resonated with over a million people. He really does appeal to the mainstream. That includes many Cantabrians - the Nats' vote share in Christchurch went up, defying gravity and all logic. To my mind, they haven't handled the situation there at all well. They've let insurance companies get away with far too much. But maybe I've been watching way too much Campbell Live, and everything is tickety-boo for 98% of people whose properties were hit by the earthquakes. I also think that many people voted National simply because they were expected to win, and people love to be on the winning team. The "team" thing was pushed really hard with the #TeamKey hashtag and their simple but clever advert with that rowing eight. It's a team sport that New Zealand are pretty good at, hence it's an instant winner with the fans.

John Key was very shrewd in deciding not to do a deal with the Conservatives. He didn't want his party to move further to the right, potentially alienating a large part of its fan-base. I'm sure this decision increased the National party vote, and because of the large wasted vote tally, they were able to reach that mythical milestone of 61 MPs on 48% of the vote.

Kim Dotcom should have stayed out of politics. I don't think he did any of the parties on the left any favours.

Turnout was 77%. That's not too bad. Compare that to the 2000 US election, where only 51% turned out. That election was a perversion of democracy if you ask me.

One of the guys last night had almost encyclopedic knowledge of the MPs and candidates. I'd like to have more of a clue. If only Back Benches wasn't on so late.

The autism group might be interesting tomorrow night. I can't see this result helping anyone there.

There was a final twist when the official results were announced last weekend. National fell one seat short of an overall majority, while the Greens picked up a 14th seat, just like they did in 2011. I didn’t think there would be so many special votes (an eighth of the total), nor did I expect them to differ so much from the “non-special” votes.

Why was the impact of the special votes greater this time? It’s hard to say, but the timing of the election was probably a factor. It was held during university term time, so more students (who tend to favour the left, relative to the general population) would have cast special out-of-electorate votes. I also think the parties on the left did a good job of recruiting last-minute voters, after the close-off date of the electoral roll, who all would have cast special votes.

In reality National won so convincingly that the special votes didn’t change a lot. Their symbolic govern-alone position was foiled, but they still scored a commanding win. Ironically the loss of that 61st seat might even help them, and hurt the left, as ACT become more of a factor. It also means National have someone else to blame if things don’t work out.

But in 2017 and beyond, this won’t necessarily be the case. If the specials continue to favour the left in increasing numbers, National could in future lose multiple seats from election night, and in a closer election the whole outcome could be turned on its head.

No comments:

Post a Comment