Here is what Parliament should look like, in a world with a low threshold, (for this result, you can pick any of the following: winning 2 list seats, 1% of the vote, or winning 1 list seat outright) or no threshold at all:

I’ve grouped the parties into government and opposition/cross-bench blocs.

So, only one empty populist party instead of two, no criminal-shielding ACT Party, and due to National not eating up 3 seats worth of the Conservative’s votes, they would need either the Conservatives or the Mäori and Internet-Mana parties or one of the larger opposition parties to pass laws. We would likely not have the Resource Management Act at risk, although of course we would be stuck with binding referendums thanks to the Conservatives, and possibly a bunch of other bigoted yuck. (Then again, what better way to make National unpopular?)

So, here is my traditional moan about how much I hate our ridiculously high, undemocratic threshold. With graphs, because it’s pretty reasonable to be visual about these things:

This is the 2014 party vote. (note: hilariously UF’s party vote is so small at .2% that it rounds down to 0%, making Peter Dunne the only overhang seat this term) I have grouped all parties that have never been in parliament into “Others”, for obvious reasons. Note how the slices suddenly get thicker at the end? That’s because I’ve used the Electoral Comission’s default sorting which sorts by whether a party is in parliament first, then by party votes. Let’s make this picture clearer:

And now the problem is obvious. The votes not counted, overall, account for 6.2% of the electorate, (5.4% or 113,155 voters if we remove the “Others”, who all legitimately have not earned a seat) wheras the votes counted due to electorate lifeboats account for 2.2%. (46,117) This privileging of micro-parties that perpetually hold on to small electorates is ridiculous, and this makes it clearer than ever that an adjustment of the threshold is necessary. Act and United Future both don’t even earn a party seat even if you completely remove the threshold, yet are in parliament whe with a combined total of 19,043 votes, when the Conservatives are out with 4.1% or 86,616 votes.

This is ridiculous- as much as I dislike the conservatives, they deserve their chance to be laughed out of parliament on their own merits as the troop of troglodytes that they are, rather than excluded due to an artificially high threshold that serves only to protect Labour and National from new parties with genuine grass-roots support. Both the conservatives and Internet-Mana deserve seats in Parliament under these results, and both United Future and the ACT Party ought to be out on their asses in any system that doesn’t privilege the will of isolated electorates to throw in a “local MP” who usually does a terrible job of advocating for local interests, and doesn’t even live in the electorate in question.

The good news is the slight uptick in voter turnout- I still suspect we were hurt in this with regards to the rain for much of the country on Election Day, so I imagine the future effect from universalising advance voting is going to be much bigger. I suspect, however, that the increase in turnout is largely from conservative (small c, not just the party) and right-wing voters being energised to vote this election to prevent a change in government, and that this has been another election with increasing left-wing demotivation, most likely from people who want to be Labour supporters, but don’t want to vote for the party in its current fossilised, in-fighting state. I’m optimistic that if we can have an election where both the Left and the Right have strong showings, that we might be able to head back up in voter turnout. However that will depend on whether parties find an effective way to mobilise the youth vote, which is still largely untapped. (Probably due to the large amount of inter-generational war that is waged on behalf of various generations of more elderly New Zealanders that are over-represented in Parliament)

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Looks like the counting is now officially over, bar the inevitable adjustments for the special votes. Things that caught me by surprise:

  • Exactly how poor turnout was for left-wing voters. Some of this may be attributable to the rain. As it looks like it hit both genuinely left-wing parties and Labour, it doesn’t seem to be down to just Labour’s poor performance this campaign.
  • The advance vote looks to be slightly left of the general electorate, but not by as much as the specials are. I had wondered if it might actually be to the right of the electorate as a whole while early booths were being counted, but it looks like that was wishful thinking
  • Hone losing Te Tai Tokerau to Kelvin Davis. Definitely wouldn’t have called that.
  • Peter Dunne hangs on to his seat, and David Seymour takes Epsom. If turnout had been better, these seats might have been in contention. I had expected one or both of these seats to eject their micro-party candidates.
  • The decline of the Mäori party continues. Te Ururoa Flavell won’t be alone in Parliament, but only because of the Party vote. For the first time ever the Mäori Party isn’t going to have an overhang, as Labour swept all but one of the Mäori seats.
  • The lack of shift from right to left we usually see in election counting. This is partially down to the reduced left-wing turnout, and partially down to

There are a few takeaways from this. Firstly, left-wing voters in Ohariu and Epsom are not getting this tactical voting thing. Epsom could have chucked out Act if not for Labour and Green electorate votes, and Ohariu could have done so twice over if not for Green electorate votes.

Secondly, Te Tai Tokerau has voted with their feet and decided they did not want to be a lifeboat for the Internet-Mana party. I would probably put this down to influence of the newspaper and TV media, as I would never have called Hone losing that seat. I expect to see the usual rage from more centrist liberals at Kelvin Davis, but to be honest, Hone has to earn that electorate seat. If we should be looking at anything, it’s that ridiculous threshold that helps nobody, which I post about every election. (Don’t worry, that post is coming later, too. Especially as two parties got burned by it this election)

Thirdly, while I might put poor turnout for the Greens down to the rain, Labour’s result is much worse than I would have expected given the usual gap between landline polls and the election. They clearly have some strategy rethinking to do, and I would largely put the blame here on their conventional thinking. Shutting out co-operation with the Greens was, in my view, a mistake. Perhaps it plays well with Labour’s rural vote, but we all know in reality that what that might lose them in the urban vote is not actually worth their while. And their campaign has been yawn-inducing at best. Nobody is going to vote for a party that wants to basically not change things too much, except maybe a little tinkering with the few things that are really critical, like our ETS, taxes, and energy policy.

While their points of difference were good, Labour needs to think a bit less pragmatically, and campaign more from its heart. They need to pressure media for better, and longer debates.

Or they can keep on as a very centrist party following their convention post 1980s tactics, and slowly lose all of their leftwing voters to the Greens, and basically become the new New Zealand First. Good luck with that.

Finally, I would suggest that next election, Labour and the Greens start campaigning for advance votes from their core constituencies before the advance polls even open. I suspect that the advance voting is masking just how badly the rain affected this election, so if they don’t want to be vulnerable to the weather, the Left will need to rely even more on advance voting.

On the composition of parliament I have one thing to say: This currently look dangerous for policies like the Resource Management Act, where National and Act want to push through radical reforms that they couldn’t sell to Peter Dunne or the Mäori Party. Hopefully the opposition parties can earn another couple seats from the specials, which appear to account for about 11% of the total vote. If the whole government has to agree to all policies, that will restrict their ability to gut environmental protections too dramatically, or if at least three of the government parties are needed, that won’t hurt either.

I posted this to le social media when it was new, but forgot to blog it…

Remember how I said that the Internet-Mana party isn’t an affront to democracy and it’s okay if they want to have their own run at the electorate lifeboat while it exists?

Well, the Internet Party is now running a petition for a sensible solution to the electorate lifeboat: end coat-tailing, but also lower the threshold somewhere reasonable, for instance 2% or lower.

This is a good near-term compromise on the threshold: it allows a reasonable barrier to entry, which satisfies people who don’t want to have to fight the Colin Craigs, Rodney Hides, John Banks, and Winston Peters of the world with humour, and it also allows small parties to enter parliament solely on the strength of the Party vote, which is actually a practical way for parties that don’t split off with a pre-loaded electorate MP to enter parliament. Our higher-than-recommended threshold is the only reason parties even bother with so-called “coat-tailing”. Let’s start treating micro-parties with electorates more like independent electorate MPs, but lower the threshold for genuine small parties.

Becoming an MP joins the long list of things Colin Craig is confident he can do, including:

  • Assisting all new mothers to remove their shoes and make their way securely to the kitchen.
  • Ending the plague of gay marriage upon all of our houses.
  • Overturning scientific abominations such as the teaching of evolution in classrooms.
  • An excellent karaoke rendition of the song “Roar” by Katy Perry.
  • Removing the redundant “h” from the placename “Whanganui”.
  • Removing the redundant “s” from the pronoun “she”.
  • Merging the North and South islands into a single landmass through the power of prayer*.
  • Making our country a laughingstock.

This is yet another reason why electorates are the obvious weakness of MMP and we should transition to an open list system as soon as we can convince enough of the country via referendum. That a small community can elect a credulous bigot and disgrace such as Colin Craig with a bare fraction of the vote we require for a single list seat is ridiculous, and the rate at which we keep adding electorates makes things even worse. Local representation is not necessarily better representation.

*This is actually supposed to be a thing if you take the Bible literally. Read the rest of this entry »

So, in between perusing listicles of cats that have gotten stuck in things and of the worst things about being a person who sweats all the time during summer, I came across a list of the worst things about being an extrovert. Know which item they missed? The regular bullying of introverts about their energy orientation, telling them to “get a life”, that they’re loners, nerds, that they’ll die alone, or frigid, or any number of similarly dumb things. Because that’s definitely far and away the worst thing about extraversion.

The author of that article, while I’m sure they have many valid points about the downsides of extraversion and the childishness or at least over-simplification of counter-stereotypes about extraverts, could have easily left off their passive-aggressive closer about how “introverts aren’t better, it’s about celebrating your personality type”. (protip: introversion and extraversion aren’t personality types. They’re orientations for the gathering of mental energy, which is one of five dimensions of personality) The author seems to miss the whole reason for the recent spate of articles, comics, books, blogs, and so forth explaining introversion and how it can be great: That introverts are a minority of the population, (around 25%) are not well-understood by extroverts, who rarely even know what an extrovert is or identify with the word, and their energy orientation is maligned by many common attitudes.

Introverts post this content not to dig at extroverts, but because we want people to understand us better, and we occasionally need reminding how who we are is a good thing amongst the put-downs and misunderstanding. I’m not claiming introversion has it anywhere near as bad as any other oppressed group, but there are major awareness issues for those of us with more than a mild orientation towards introversion.

That’s why you’re now seeing pictures explaining the concept of personal space, and how letting you into it is a bigger deal for introverts, the methaphor that introverts run on batteries during social occasions and extroverts run on batteries during intellectual occasions, and the explanations of what it feels like to us to be over-stimulated. (A phenomenon that’s probably a lot rarer for extroverts, who have a wide variety of ways to function in society that allow them to avoid the deeper introspective thought that exhausts and overloads them, as opposed to the broader, social type that’s everywhere and frequently overloads even comparatively moderate introverts) Think of these as the equivalents of infographics for men about how not to behave like a stalker: they’re not attacks. They’re PSAs about how to behave in a way that is respectful of people with different problems than yourself, and a peaceful nudge towards behaviour that will allow us to be friends.

There’s a lot of suspicious stuff going on around the John Banks guilty verdict that doesn’t seem to be being questioned inside newspapers. (in fact there seems to be an effort to shield him to some degree, which is hilarious, because it’s just feeding the outrage)

Firstly, there was the fact that this case had to initially be brought by private prosecution. There is a culture of not convicting politicians for electoral fraud because it’s seen as part of “business as usual”, especially if you’re a right-wing politician. (If you’re a left-wing politician, as always you’re held to a higher standard, even if it’s not perfectly executed) This should never have had to happen- this case should have been brought by the Crown to begin with.

Secondly, there’s the odd wait between the verdict and sentencing in this case, that possibly smacks of political favouritism to the government. I’m sure that waits before sentencing are a thing that happens, but a two-month wait in a high profile case where there are political ramifications as soon as sentencing occurs, and the timing puts sentencing after parliament goes into recess? That’s ridiculously contrived. Banks should have been sentenced shortly after the verdict, which will give him his chance at not being convicted in the sentencing despite being found guilty. (Which will be a problem of its own if it happens)

But in the meantime we’re left with a parliament in limbo, where Banks may technically remain an MP under the law, even though he has been found guilty of a crime that is the modern equivalent of treason against the state. (that is, undermining our democratic system) Banks should do the least dishonourable thing (because by delaying this long, let’s face it, there’s no honour left to be claimed) and resign. If his sentencing is quashed and therefore he isn’t convicted, then he can live to run again. (good luck though, if you’re an ex-bigot and guilty of electoral fraud, you’re about as electable as Roger Douglass)

The really shady thing here though is that the government didn’t immediately call on Banks to resign, or rule out working with him. They’re still considering working with Banks even as his party leader is pressuring him to resign.

First there was the obvious corruption that has stymied Judith Collins’ run for leader, (thanks to successful shielding from the National Party and the media, she’s somehow still a minister) then Maurice Williamson serially attempting to influence police investigations, and now we have Banks guilty of electoral fraud. This is record-setting levels of corruption in New Zealand, and it continues to put to lie our perception of being the least corrupt country in the world.

 

update: Of course, he announced his pending resignation the same day. For some odd reason he’s waiting until Friday, but at least he eventually did the right thing.

Crickets…

Posted: June 1, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Well, this is not entirely unexpected.

Labour are keeping a low profile in regards to the Green Party’s climate policy- I can see two reasons why they wouldn’t immediately have a reaction:

  • Labour will wade into this space later in order to fight hard on the Green’s home ground and try to cannibalise some votes off its strongest support partner.
  • or Labour is intending to not contest climate policy at all, will not announce any significant measures of its own, and will “concede” to the Green’s policy as part of “negotiations”, so that they can either take credit for supporting it if it’s popular (which I find hard not to believe) or wash their hands of it if it isn’t.

Given that Cunliffe has failed to steer the Labour Party entirely back to its routes, and just sailed the ship a few smidges more left of centre1, I don’t really have any suspicions it’s going to be a warm embrace of the policy, but I can always hope to be proven wrong.

1Centre being a political milestone which for some reason seems to be drifting rightward ever since the 1980s…

So the Green Party has announced its new Climate Protection Plan, a $320(ish) tax cut for everyone earning an income in New Zealand, a 1% cut to the company tax rate, funded by a levy of $25/tonne on carbon-equivilent emissions for most polluting sectors, with a $12.50 rate for dairy and an exemption for all other farming sectors that have already kept their emissions at or below 1990 levels. They’ve also pledged that all the money raised by the levy will be refunded to the tax payer, and an independent panel will be set up to suggest any future amendments to the scheme.

This is one of those excellent policies that hits both highly technical and sensible policy benchmarks, and is great politics at the same time. The Greens were never happy with the idea of the Emissions Trading Scheme, being persauded to vote for the stronger version proposed by Labour only because it was marginally better than doing nothing, and due to the potential energy reduction of $1billion invested in insulating houses. The National version of the scheme is largely a giveaway, and where it isn’t, it’s functioning as a money-go-round and not actually reducing emissions, and the small amount of houses they’ve agreed to insulate is bizzare, given that we are already seeing reductions in health costs beyond what the first round of the scheme cost.

This presents the Greens, (and barring and announcements of a competing policy from Labour, the entire opposition) as a movement that can square the circle: They’ll use a carbon reduction policy to provide a tax cut to ordinary New Zealanders, (and because their tax cut is broad-base, it will stimulate the economy, too) and make the business environment even more competitive for companies that achieve low-to-zero emissions. This is an excellent scheme known more internationally as “Cap and Dividend”, and given the shocking failure of ETS policies globally, (mostly due to their vulnerability to business lobbying) a great second-try at making New Zealand more of an environmental leader. (Or perhaps more fairly, a close follower- we would have led in this if we had proposed this during the previous government rather than for the next one)

This isn’t a policy that can be de-railed as a “fart tax”: it’s charitable to farmers, and most charitable where they’ve stepped up and done their part. It’s fair to the rest of New Zealand, refunding us for the externalities heaped on us by polluters. And as a country vulnerable to climate change, especially any political destabilisation it might cause, becoming a leader or a close-follower in addressing emissions is in both our economic and social interests, not to mention our national security interests, given that the more extreme range of climate change prediction could leave New Zealand one of the few relatively agriculture-friendly areas of land.

 

edit: Looks like the $319 is based on two-incomes, so if you’re solo, that’s a $159.50 tax cut. This is, however, the amount after potential cost increases are accounted for.

Well, that’s not really fair to donkeys, but you get the picture.

What’s become clear to anyone who viewed Lockwood Smith under rage-tinted glasses at the fact that National was in government, is that we actually had it pretty good under the former speaker.

The current speaker doesn’t really give a shite about fair debate, is quite happy to shield corrupt ministers under flimsy justifications, and has done literally nothing to improve the standard of debate in Parliament.

You know what would be nice? Having an actual experienced debate moderator as speaker, and letting MPs stay as MPs instead. Either elect the speaker directly, (risky, potentially just as prone to politicisation) or have them independently appointed on a periodic basis, say by a random pool of electors pulled in from each electorate in a situation similar to Jury Duty.

Can you imagine a having a speaker who wasn’t accountable to his or her party when the Prime Minister tries to abuse the debating chamber? Can you imagine having someone who would support engaging the public with parliament, instead of a petty tyrant who wants to ban tweeting about him?

I know I can.