Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Infrequently asked questions

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  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    The Party has a particular list that it endorses. It doesn’t endorse other lists. Why should the Party have to campaign for a list it doesn’t want?

    It wouldn't be campaigning for a list. It would be campaigning for party votes. If there's someone they don't want to be elected to Parliament, they wouldn't nominate them as a party candidate.

    The Green Party wants Holly Walker to be a member of Parliament. The members of the Green Party want, collectively, Holly Walker to be a member of Parliament. They will have said to every voter in the country "We think Holly Walker is awesome and should be a member of Parliament, if you want the Green Party to have lots of members of Parliament, give us your party vote, if you agree with us that Holly Walker should be a member of Parliament, then you can push her up the list. If, instead, you really really think James Shaw should be a member of Parliament, push him up the list instead. We think they're all awesome, and recommend each of them to you as wonderful awesome people who should be in Parliament, but how many there are, and exactly which ones they are is up to you."

    And, of course, if the Green Party has decided that they want James Shaw to be a member of Parliament, but if an only if 14 specified others are there as well, there's nothing to stop the Green Party asking for people to vote particularly people in from its list, either directly "we think Metiria Turei is the most awesome of all the awesome people we recommend so choose her top" or indirectly "please party vote green, but don't reorder our list, because we know these people pretty well, and have thought about this pretty hard, and these people are already in the order of most awesome to 30th most awesome."

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    But take the Greens' choice to impose pretty strict gender balance on their list. How does that survive voter re-ordering of the list? What about the effect of the almost inevitable Auckland-centrism of nationally ranked lists on a party trying to use the list to maintain geographic diversity?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Like I say, I feel it would be counteracted by the vast majority not bothering to rank the list resulting in the party choices dominating..

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    How does that survive voter re-ordering of the list? What about the effect of the almost inevitable Auckland-centrism of nationally ranked lists on a party trying to use the list to maintain geographic diversity?

    1. International experience shows most people will adopt the party’s ranking, which will be given substantial weight.
    2. [made up numbers follow] 28% of voters are in Auckland. 28% of a perfect list’s candidates will be from Auckland, the 28% of Auckland voters will have lots of Auckland candidates to choose between if local representation is important to them and will split their votes between them. 3% of voters are from the bottom of the South Island, a perfect list will have only 3% of its candidates from the bottom of the South Island. The 3% of voters in the bottom of the South Island will have few candidates to split their vote between if favouring local representation, so will perform about as well as the average Auckland candidate.

    But take the Greens’ choice to impose pretty strict gender balance on their list. How does that survive voter re-ordering of the list?

    It is up to voters whom they elect. It will survive if the green party advertising to vote for the list as ordered is heeded. If not, well, the people have spoken, and the green party people to whom gender balance is important will know to nominate more awesome male/female candidates in the future.

    As an alternative way of looking at things, all those women who vote for parties with male-dominated lists will not be able to influence those party’s choices to ensure that while they get the policies they want, they’ll be able to get female representation as well!

    But mostly, most people won’t bother to reorder the list, and the party will get to choose anyway.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Like I say, I feel it would be counteracted by the vast majority not bothering to rank the list resulting in the party choices dominating..

    In other words, this policy won't do anything, so what does it matter?

    (I am not hugely fussed over the possibility of reranking lists; I dislike it because it replaces a thick model of politics with a thin one, but really, it isn't that bad. I also dislike it because it reeks of populism, and that annoys me.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    it replaces a thick model of politics with a thin one

    though participation in the 'thick' model has been declining for some time - so what does it matter, right?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    In other words, this policy won’t do anything, so what does it matter?

    Because giving people the option increases public acceptance of MMP, because even if it doesn't alter the result itself, it alters the legitimacy of the result. List MPs become elected, rather than unelected in the eyes of the average voter.

    Its the same reason why I think PV is a vast improvement over FPP, even though it isn't proportional, or make much of a difference to the result. When someone is elected with 65% of people voting against them (e.g. Peter Dunne), their mandate is in question. When you use PV, we can be sure they're acceptable to a majority. Under PV, instances of where the candidate ahead on first preferences doesn't win (e.g. Kerry Prendergast) are relatively rare, but that it sometimes happens, ad that even when it doesn't, you know the person elected has an actual mandate

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    When you use PV, we can be sure they’re acceptable to a majority.

    a) You need a "no confidence" option on the ballot to be sure of this.
    b) PV doesn't guarantee electing a Condorcet winner, even if a Condorcet winner exists.

    But I agree that PV is a vast improvement over FPP, which can, in theory, elect a Condorcet loser. (In practice, I suspect most voters assess who they think the two most likely winners are, and vote for their preference between those two, so it's really hard to tell what their true preferences are.)

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Here's something I've often wondered. Elections NZ provide information in 18 different languages.

    How do they choose which ones? Obviously Te Reo and English. The Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau are part of NZ. But then, is it based on the number of people who list a first language and aren't fluent in English? There are a few missing: Fijian, Urdu, Spanish and Russian aren't covered. Or do they add a language when a community group asks for it?


    It's great that they do this, but how do they decide?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Most Urdu speakers, I assume, would speak enough of one of Hindi*, Punjabi, Farsi, or English, to make it unlikely there are a great deal of Urdu speakers who can't access that information. So I suspect they do it by `languages with least overlap', but then they may just do it by most speakers, or possibly just by the age-old heuristic, who complains? I too am quite interested.

    * I dunno how well most Urdu readers can read Hindi.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    98% of the 2001 census respondents reported fluency in (at least) English. Only 2% of the 2001 census respondents reported that they were monolingual in a language other than English. The 18 languages covered are among the most frequent of the reported languages among those monolinguals.

    What I find interesting about the language list is that it systematically doesn’t include European languages (French, German, Dutch, Spanish) reported with non-negligible frequency in the 2001 census. Presumably most such speakers are also able to read English. Starks, Harlow & Bell (2005) note that in NZ, French, German and Japanese are predominantly “school” languages without sizeable local communities of use.
    By contrast, Polynesian languages, and Asian languages other than Japanese, were mostly reported by (and were mostly limited to) respondents who also identified with the respective ethnic group, so represent communities that should be catered for.

    The 2001 census figures are, in descending order:
    English 98.21%; Maori 4.60%; Samoan 2.32%; French 1.43%; Yue (Cantonese) 1.06%; German 0.97%; NZ Sign Language 0.78%; Mandarin 0.76%; Dutch 0.75%; Tongan 0.66%; Sinitic (i.e. other Chinese) 0.66%; Hindi 0.65%; Japanese 0.57%; Korean 0.46%; Spanish 0.42%; all others 4.70% total.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1941 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    The 2006 census responses show slightly more language diversity.
    English = 95.90%.
    Other languages in descending frequency (above 0.25% coverage):
    Maori 4.10%; Samoan 2.23%; French 1.40%; Hindi 1.16%; Yue (Cantonese) 1.15%; Mandarin 1.08%; Sinitic (other Chinese) 0.99%; German 0.98%; Tongan 0.77%; Dutch 0.70%; Korean 0.70%; NZ Sign Language 0.63%; Spanish 0.56%; Japanese 0.55%; Afrikaans 0.55%; Gujarati 0.41%; Tagalog 0.33%; Panjabi 0.28%; Arabic 0.26%; Cook Is. Maori 0.25%.

    (N.B. all other Germanic languages combined add only 0.03% to the English count, confirming that most such speakers also are fluent in English.)

    Urdu (at 0.11%) may miss out on official support purely on basis of low frequency.

    The only language on the list supported for election documentation that doesn’t seem clearly justified by special cultural connection or by frequency is Vietnamese (0.11% – lower than Khmer or Thai at 0.16% each).

    N.B. The Statistics New Zealand release breaks the figures down by age, which would allow anyone really interested to calculate coverage for voting-age adults alone; but I am not going to attempt that here.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1941 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to linger,

    Bugger. Actually, I should correct the 2006 figures slightly (to ignore the 2.01% of the total who are listed as having no language, e.g. babies) for more direct comparison with the 2001 figures. Which gives:

    English = 97.83%.
    Other languages in descending frequency (above 0.25% coverage):
    Maori 4.18%; Samoan 2.27%; French 1.43%; Hindi 1.19%; Yue (Cantonese) 1.18%; Mandarin 1.10%; Sinitic (other Chinese) 1.01%; German 1.00%; Tongan 0.79%; Dutch 0.72%; Korean 0.72%; NZ Sign Language 0.64%; Spanish 0.58%; Japanese 0.56%; Afrikaans 0.56%; Gujarati 0.42%; Tagalog 0.33%; Panjabi 0.29%; Arabic 0.26%; Cook Is. Maori 0.26%.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1941 posts Report Reply

  • Jeffrey Simpson,

    Saw an interesting suggestion on Twitter today: If/when Paul Goldsmith wins in Epsom, he could still resign before the return of writs (December 15), and John Banks would be the winner of the electorate without the need for a by-election. Would this be correct?

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2010 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Jeffrey Simpson,

    If/when Paul Goldsmith wins in Epsom, he could still resign before the return of writs (December 15), and John Banks would be the winner of the electorate without the need for a by-election. Would this be correct?

    It would not be correct.

    1. He can't resign until he's a member of Parliament, which doesn't happen until the writ.
    2. Even if he could resign, and did (or if he dies or is committed to mental hospital, or abandons his citizenship or whatever), there would be a by-election; the runner-up wouldn't take over.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

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