And the counting is over.

Posted: September 21, 2014 in democracy, elections, government, New Zealand

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 Māori party continues. Te Ururoa Flavell won’t be alone in Parliament, but only because of the Party vote. For the first time ever the Māori Party isn’t going to have an overhang, as Labour swept all but one of the Māori 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 advance voting mitigating the tendancy of the earliest reported results tending to be rural, as advance votes seem to be ready to report right at the beginning of the count.

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 Māori 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.


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