Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: New Old Left?

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  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Basically, Bolger used his last round of media interviews before the '96 election to say National supporters in Wellington Central should give their electorate vote to Richard Prebble in order guarantee ACT being in Parliament. Just to add insult to injury, even if Mark Thomas had won Wellington Central ACT neatly cleared the threshold with 6.1% of the party vote.

    Thanks, I really had no idea this had taken place at all. Being undermined by your own leader in a winnable contest must have been a bitter pill to chew on. Cheers to the others for the suggestion of watching Campaign, I'll check it out.

    Coromandel - lost.

    Although Jeanette did actually live in the electorate; she was no carpetbagger.

    I also think we should drop the 5% threshold. If a party can cobble together enough votes to get a seat in parliment, then they should be represented. It will possibly mean more extremists in parliament, though.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Well voting alliance back then
    and then alliance diasseaoed and we had greens as our option if we wanted to pull labour left

    It's not going to work this time either. Not with Labour - at least rhetorically - pulling so decisively away from the neoliberal reforms. And I'd be the first to cheer if we discovered an hitherto unknown reservoir of Marxists.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Dropping the threshold requirement as soon as a party gets an electorate seat gives us the nonsense of Rodney hauling in Garrett and the Zombie of Parliaments Past whilst Winston gets nothing despite having more popular support. I don't particularly object to Winston getting nothing, but it sure does rankle that the 3.4% Mussolini gets to bring a supporting cast of four off fewer party votes.

    Sure. But the solution is less unfairness, not more. Retaining the threshold at a non-trivial level while abolishing the "electorate lifeboat" means people who would be represented under the current rules going under-represented. And that makes the problem worse, not better.

    The goal of our democracy should be to ensure that every vote counts. Currently, only the votes of people who vote for big parties count. That's not fair, and its not democratic.

    It will possibly mean more extremists in parliament, though.

    Where "extremists" equals Bill and Ben and the Kiwi Party. I don't think we have anything to fear from them. But even if we did, they are as deserving of democratic representation as you or I, and our system should do its best to ensure they receive it.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • binary.heart,

    Amongst other people I know who vote Green in Wellington. There seems to be growing discontent with the MPs and the feeling that the party is moving away from its original feel. Rather than tracing it back to backing Metiria over Sue Bradford, a lot of it is being put down to Russell Norman's influence - which I think is seen as too media-focused and increasingly moving away from their core values.

    Personally I would welcome another major left-wing party. One point I'd make in response to Giovanni is that Labour's 'leftward shift' - is opening some actual ground for discussion in the political landscape that has been exceedingly hard to dig over of late.

    Since Nov 2007 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    It's not going to work this time either. Not with Labour - at least rhetorically - pulling so decisively away from the neoliberal reforms. And I'd be the first to cheer if we discovered an hitherto unknown reservoir of Marxists.

    And that's the real problem for a new left party: Labour has just eaten their ground. The Alliance did well when Labour was on the right; their vote share was declining as Labour drifted back towards the left. And since their implosion, Labour has only shifted further in that direction. Which means that as much as I'd like to see such a group, I think they'd end up as RAM mk II.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    One point I'd make in response to Giovanni is that Labour's 'leftward shift' - is opening some actual ground for discussion in the political landscape that has been exceedingly hard to dig over of late.

    And having the conversation started by a major party rather than a minor one makes it harder to dismiss. The Alliance have been calling for this stuff 9and more) for years. But then, its what they always say...

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Labour has just eaten their ground

    Somehow when I wasn't looking the real estate on the left shrunk.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Somehow when I wasn't looking the real estate on the left shrunk.

    More that Labour, in publicly repudiating NeoLiberalism, has occupied more of it. Though notably, that's only on economic interventionism; they're still leaving that social justice ground vacant.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I was meaning more, despite a couple of statements that Goff has made recently, there seemed to me to be a lot of room to the left of Labour for another party.

    I still struggle to put Labour into the left-wing pile.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Thorpe,

    Hone Harawira is a Maori nationalist.
    Most of his generation of Maori activists have been uneasy with the Marxists' embrace, and I see nothing of class ideology in the politics of the women he claims to be his main advisors, Titewhai and Hilda.
    There never has been a parliamentary role in this country for an avowedly marxist party, and I do not see one in the future.

    Hokianga • Since May 2007 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    There never has been a parliamentary role in this country for an avowedly marxist party, and I do not see one in the future.

    Who said anything about Marxist? It's possible to be left of Labour (even left of the new, cuddly Labour) and still be far from Marxist.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Sure. But the solution is less unfairness, not more. Retaining the threshold at a non-trivial level while abolishing the "electorate lifeboat" means people who would be represented under the current rules going under-represented. And that makes the problem worse, not better.

    That makes *a* problem worse. But if the problem is that the votes of some count more than the votes of others, then getting rid of it is a good thing irrespective of the threshold (on which we agree).

    At present, the constituency votes of Epsom voters are worth five times more than the constituency votes of everyone else. Given the option between keeping *this* problem and removing it, I (now) say we get rid of it.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I was meaning more, despite a couple of statements that Goff has made recently, there seemed to me to be a lot of room to the left of Labour for another party.

    Room ideologically, sure (that space is infinite; one can always play "lefter-than-thou"). But what matters isn't the ideological space, but how many people are in it. That's the core issue a political party has to grapple with. And based on recent voting trends, the answer is "not a lot". At the last election, the "left of Labour" vote was ~182,000 votes, 7.72% of the total - and a great chunk of that will be off-axis Greens. This is not a lot of space to support a new party. In order to be successful, they would have to move large numbers of people into it, which is a very big ask.

    I still struggle to put Labour into the left-wing pile.

    Sure. But would the former Alliance's core non-Green voterbase of betrayed former Labour voters have the same problem?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • binary.heart,

    "And having the conversation started by a major party rather than a minor one makes it harder to dismiss."

    Yup, that's exactly my point. It's not to disregard the part played by other parties and groups, but Labour's adoption for the time being of some of these ideas opens the debate up usefully.

    Since Nov 2007 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • binary.heart,

    "But would the former Alliance's core non-Green voterbase of betrayed former Labour voters have the same problem?"

    - This one still does.

    Since Nov 2007 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    At the last election, the "left of Labour" vote was ~182,000 votes

    Are you including New Zealand First in that? Because of lot of their economic policies: reserve bank, protectionism, minimum wage, etc. have been to the left of Labour for some time.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    At present, the constituency votes of Epsom voters are worth five times more than the constituency votes of everyone else. Given the option between keeping *this* problem and removing it, I (now) say we get rid of it.

    Whereas I would rather have the votes of voters in Epsom count for five times more than those of everyone else than have the votes of ACT voters count for nothing. Universal unfairness is still unfair. Procedural fairness isn't. Any solution which involves restricting people's rights is a backwards step, not a forward one.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Are you including New Zealand First in that? Because of lot of their economic policies: reserve bank, protectionism, minimum wage, etc. have been to the left of Labour for some time.

    No, I wasn't. But that was because I was assuming that a "new left" party wouldn't be interested in the votes of racists.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Any solution which involves restricting people's rights is a backwards step, not a forward one.

    Who's restricting whose rights? You can vote for any party that's listed, or even write in your own if you so choose. The right to vote is not being interfered with or modified in any way through the existence of the threshold.
    If you equate not putting a representative into Parliament for every party that gets a single vote with interfering with someone's rights, you've got a fairly interesting definition of "right".

    Also, complete abolition of the threshold would pretty much ensure that Parliament blew out to a completely unmanageable size and cost. You could find 500 people who would agree to support each other in all registering political parties. The guarantee of a seat if you get a single vote ensures that people will game the system in order to get a cushy job with a hefty salary. There must be a bottom limit in order to avoid such an occurrence, unless you consider that people have a right to play the letter of the rules and end up on the public payroll.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    If you equate not putting a representative into Parliament for every party that gets a single vote with interfering with someone's rights, you've got a fairly interesting definition of "right".

    He doesn't. That's not what abolition of the threshold involves. FPP doesn't have a threshold, and still seems to manage.

    Rather, you would get the votes of every party, apply the Sainte-Laguë method (or the modified Sainte-Laguë method) to them and the 120 highest quotients would have seats.

    You'd need around 9000 votes or so to get a seat (factually, given recent turnouts).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    You'd need around 9000 votes or so to get a seat (factually, given recent turnouts).

    I've looked at the figures and don't understand why the system does this.

    At about 2.4 million people voting, 20,000 votes should get you a list seat, assuming most votes 'count'.

    Is this a feature of of sainte-lague, that smaller parties can get in at about 0.5% of the vote? Should take more like 0.8 shouldn't it?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Matthew: you can keep your straw man, thanks - I don't want it.

    The legislated size of Parliament sets an obvious limit on democratic representation. We have 120 MPs. And as Graeme points out, using St Lague that sets an effective minimum threshold, in the extreme case, of around 0.4% of the vote.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    You'd need around 9000 votes or so to get a seat (factually, given recent turnouts).

    This value is skewed by the fact the actual voting totals are filtered for those that get a seat or votes in excess of the threshold. I just re-ran the Sainte-Laguë formula against all parties, and the results are:

    National - 53
    Labour - 42
    Greens - 8
    ACT - 4
    Maori - 4
    Progressives - 1
    United Future - 1
    New Zealand First Party - 5
    The Bill and Ben Party - 1
    Kiwi Party - 1

    Note sure what the threshold vote is, but it is somewhere between 9515 (ALCP) and 12755 (Kiwi Party).

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Is this a feature of of sainte-lague, that smaller parties can get in at about 0.5% of the vote? Should take more like 0.8 shouldn't it?

    Think of it this way: that 0.4% of the vote is (on straight division) 0.5 of a seat in a 120 seat Parliament. Which gets rounded up to 1.

    That's what Sainte-Laguë and the various other systems do: allocate the rounding errors.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Is this a feature of of sainte-lague, that smaller parties can get in at about 0.5% of the vote? Should take more like 0.8 shouldn't it?

    I'll (over-)simplify it a bit, but yes.

    We have to divvy up 120 seats. If you were to work it out on strict percentages, you might find a major party with enough votes for 32.43 seats, and some minor party with support for 0.43 seats. Sainte-Laguë - designed to ensure the most proportional result possible - says give it to the smaller party (because this creates a more proportional outcome) - which is more proportional between these parties 33 seats major, 0 minor, or 32 major, 1 minor?

    There were 2344566 valid party votes at the last election. 9160 votes would have gotten a party 1 seat, 27815 would have gotten two seats, 46611 for three seats.

    You get the first seat, at quite a bit lower than you might assume (0.08333% - or 19538 votes), but subsequent seats cost close to 1/120 of the votes. This "problem" that a minor party can get a seat with well under the votes needed to earn a whole seat, is a reason why some countries modify Sainte-Laguë.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

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