web analytics
The Standard

Tim Watkin is wrong

Written By: - Date published: 10:22 am, April 8th, 2014 - 21 comments
Categories: blogs, Europe, International, Media, MMP - Tags: ,

Tim Watkin recently had a post over at Pundit, saying about why a 15% gap (in their latest poll of polls, uncorrected like Danyl’s) between Labour and National matters (presuming that it stays that way and polls don’t massively bounce around – see 11 point gap in latest poll).

His crux point is that in no MMP election has a party led by 15% and not formed the government.

Unfortunately for Tim, this is demonstrably wrong.

In 2011 there was an MMP election for a 120 seat house (70 constituencies, 50 list, St Lague method of seat allocation, overhang seats… all very NZ settings) in which the ‘losers’ got 39% and the ‘winners’ 24%.

As a Labour supporter it wasn’t the best election – the social democratic party vote dropped to 23%, leaving them as junior partners to the Greens. On the other hand, it wasn’t the worst election – the centre right party had been in power for 58 years!

In fact the centre-right CDU got 60 out of the 70 constituencies, so they had to create an 18 seat overhang (all those extra list MPs!) to give the Green-Red coalition their majority.

And what was the conclusion of the populace?  Well the government is still operating 3 years later at any rate. So unless Tim is saying Aotearoa has a greater propensity and history to electoral result overthrow than Germany… I think such a result would stand here as well.

Tim’s other point was how much the gap would de-motivate supporters and voters, who would think they have “no chance”. But it seems to me that can only be a problem of perception, not reality.  And who shapes that perception?

The Left parties will certainly not be pushing that. They’re talking about left-right blocs. So it’s only if the main media (as the window on the world of politics to most people) present the election as a foregone conclusion that people will reach that perception.

So surely it becomes once again our lead journalists’ responsibility to make sure they reflect (and not create) reality?

Postscript: Meant to include xkcd’s cartoon list of electoral precedents, and mention the intriguing contrast to NZ in the Baden-Württemberg state election:

The biggest issue was the turning of a terminus train station in the centre of the main city into a through station. So familiar until you realise that the centre-right government was pushing it through, and the Greens doubled their vote by opposing it…

(Other MMP electoral precedents incorrectly cited include at the last election “no party has ever got a majority under MMP”… while Scotland had (and has) a one-party MMP majority government…)

21 comments on “Tim Watkin is wrong”

  1. Tom Gould 1

    The number of MPs each individual party has is completely irrelevant. What matters is whether an individual MP is able to convince the Governor General that he or she commands the confidence in the House of a majority of MPs. Simple as that. Whether confidence is pledged by the MPs of a single party or those of a dozen parties is of no consequence. Under MMP, 50 per cent plus one MP wins. End of story.

  2. Blue 2

    Most journalists seem completely incapable of considering the election in any other terms than a straight National v Labour horserace.

    I predict that they will all end up with egg on their faces when National comes in at, say 41%, doesn’t have enough friends to form a Government, and we end up with a Labour/Green/NZ First Government.

    I look forward to the acrobatic justifications from all the idiot talking heads who’ve called it for National already.

    • Rob 2.1

      I think you mean that

      Most voters seem completely incapable of considering the election in any other terms than a straight National v Labour horserace.

      Most voters do only vote for Labour and National, for many of these voters the parties that poll less than 15% just make things a whole lot more complex.

      • Blue 2.1.1

        No, I think voters are more sophisticated than you give them credit for. The ones in Epsom and Ohariu certainly understand the special power they have been given to pervert the course of the electoral system.

        I know people who always vote for minor parties because they understand how MMP works and want a minor coalition partner to ‘keep the major party honest’.

        It’s not voters who have trouble with MMP – it’s journalists who struggle to fit the system into their preordained ‘winner/loser’ narrative.

        • Ant 2.1.1.1

          Also, if you look at the Maori electorates you begin to get a picture of a populace who appear to ‘get’ MMP pretty well. It seems like this affliction of not understanding MMP just affects journos.

  3. Philj 3

    xox
    We have very few quality journalists in NZ Mainstream Media. Getting less by the day. RNZ is heading the way of TVNZ, trivia, once over lightly Mora. I Will tell you what to think Ryan. I hope to be proved wrong. Wallace has promise…fingers crossed.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    Even our close neighbors Australia have had governments formed where the largest party wasnt in government.
    Since the 1950s there have been 4 times when ‘ Labor’ have had more seats than the Liberals but they havent been the government.

    As well, in 1951 they both had 51 seats. Of course Liberals have the Country party, now called Nationals as coalition partners.

    1998 Lab 67 Lib 64. Howard was PM

    1969 Lab 59 Lib 46 Gorton

    1961 Lab 60 Lib 45 Menzies

    1954 Lab 57 Lib 47 Menzies

    The conservative parties allways run separate candidates and only recently in Queensland have they combined as Liberal- Nationals

    The method of electing Mps is soley by electorate but the method of forming an Australian government is only ever based on who has the numbers to form a coalition in the house.

    Its absurd to think NZ voters would be any different to Australians in accepting the major party didnt win the most seats

  5. DS 5

    There’s even a New Zealand First Past the Post precedent for the single biggest party not governing: in 1911 Reform got more seats than the Liberals, but the Liberals won an eighth term with the support of independents. Of course, the Government fell the following year, but the point is that there is no “single biggest party must govern” precedent.

    It happened in the UK (again FPP) in 1923. Tories win most seats, but the first Labour Government comes in, propped up by the (now third party) Liberals.

  6. srylands 6

    Yes I agree he is wrong. Labour could definitely win.

    The most likely scenario is that Labour/Greens will get about 41%, National 45% and Winston 5.x %. Winston will decide who forms the Government.

    Alternatively, NZ First will get 4.x %, Dunne gets 1 seat, ACT gets 1 or 2 seats, Maori Party gets 1 seat and in that scenario National wins.

    Sure there are other scenarios but those two are the most realistic.

    A scenario that has Labour/Greens over 50% is unlikely.

    • Rumour Willis 6.1

      “ACT gets […] 2 seats”

      lolololol

    • Lanthanide 6.2

      If MP gets 1 seat, it’s highly likely Mana would end up on 2 or maybe even 3. Which potentially changes the situation.

  7. fisiani 7

    ACT is the fastest growing party in parliament. At this rate they could have 4 MP’s

  8. Ben,

    I think you’ve fundamentally misunderstood Tim’s point. What I take him to be saying is:

    (1) The “it’s never happened before” point is not that this proves it can never happen. Rather, it’s that it is hard to motivate your ground troops to go out and bust a gut for you if it looks like you’re trailing so far behind the opponent you measure yourself against. And for all you may tell yourself (and others) “once the Greens are in the mix, it’s neck-and-neck”, the constant message that “National is 15% (or whatever) ahead” wears you down. So the longer the gap continues, the harder it gets to generate the momentum (and enthusiasm) needed to close it.

    (Of course, there is a way Labour could try and overcome this. They could link themselves publicly and continuously with the Greens as a “Left Bloc”, referring constantly to the two parties as one political force to offset National’s apparently commanding poll lead. But … they won’t.)

    (2) However, the main point is that Tim thinks, based upon having seen Peters up close and personal, that if Labour is still 15-something percent behind National on election night, he will not feel able to support them in Government. The public perception that Labour has “lost” and National has “won” will be so strong that he will feel obligated to support National. So given that for Labour to lead the next Government they’re probably going to need Peters in a King-maker role, that’s a real problem for them.

    Now, Tim may be wrong about that second point. But I think he is probably right. I’d also note that both he and I have both posted on a number of occasions busting the myth that “the biggest party should be allowed to govern”. But that’s different from saying that the gap between Labour and National just “doesn’t matter”.

    • Sacha 8.1

      “the opponent you measure yourself against”

      another part of the mindset problem, yes. Sooner we flush the remaining FPP dinosaurs from Labour’s backrooms and caucus the better.

  9. Dave 9

    Well seems like labour still has a mathematical chance of winning then, even if national doesn’t have some catastrophic collapse.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Labour, supposedly representing the economic interests of the numerous bottom 90% of households, is on 32%.

      National, supposedly representing the economic interests of the rarefied top 10% of households, is on 43%.

      Talk about total disconnect.

  10. George 10

    A plausible explanation. Except it won’t be Holly Walker and Jan Logie filling Government benches. It will be Tracey Martin and Asenati Lole Taylor.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Bullying contributes to Auckland being stripped of ICU training
    Complaints of bullying and harassment by supervisors which have contributed to Auckland’s critical care department losing its training accreditation are further evidence of the appalling culture at executive level, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “The department had its accreditation… ...
    2 days ago
  • Broadband failure sucks up more cash
    The Commerce Committee has blocked an inquiry into the $300 million rural broadband initiative (RBI) despite mounting evidence it’s a massive policy failure and waste of money, says Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran. “The Government is about to spend an… ...
    3 days ago
  • TISA – Another secret trade deal you may never have heard of
      This post first appeared on The Daily Blog You’ve probably heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) by now and the widespread concerns around it but what about the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) also being currently negotiated by… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    3 days ago
  • Health chickens coming home to roost as Dunedin loses right to train doctor...
    News today that Dunedin Hospital has lost orthopaedic training accreditation is a major blow and proves the Government’s prevarication is having devastating consequences, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Losing orthopaedic advanced training is serious. There is a knock on… ...
    4 days ago
  • $74,000 quarterly rise shows crisis out of control
    New figures out today showing Auckland house prices have spiked by a massive $74,000 in the past quarter is further evidence the city’s housing crisis has spiralled out of control, Labour’s “In spite of constant announcements and photo opportunities from… ...
    4 days ago
  • Democracy for Nauru now
    Murray McCully must send the strongest possible message to the Nauruan Government that New Zealand does not condone its actions given the disturbing developments there, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “Right now we are seeing Nauru stripped of… ...
    4 days ago
  • Recovery needs more than a rebrand
    Today’s announcement of new governance arrangements for Canterbury seems to be nothing more than a fresh coat of paint on the same old approach, says Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “The Canterbury Recovery has been too slow, with… ...
    4 days ago
  • Copper decision a victory for status quo, not Kiwi households
    New Zealanders hoping for cheaper copper broadband will be disappointed by the Commerce Commission’s latest decision in the long running saga to determine the price of copper, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran says. “In an apparent attempt to appease everyone,… ...
    4 days ago
  • It’s time for hard decisions in the Bay
     The Ruataniwha dam project is turning into a huge white elephant as the economics fail to stack up, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.  “Ruataniwha simply doesn’t make economic sense when you look at other major irrigation schemes around the… ...
    4 days ago
  • More testing won’t lift student achievement
    Hekia Parata’s latest plan to subject school students to even more testing and assessment won’t do anything to lift the educational achievement of the kids who are struggling, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “New Zealand school students are already… ...
    4 days ago
  • Bad week for NZ economy gets worse
    The bad news for the New Zealand economy got worse this morning with the 8th successive drop in dairy prices at this morning’s global dairy auction, again exposing the absence of any Plan B from the National Government, Labour’s Finance… ...
    4 days ago
  • System failing to protect women and children from family violence
    Last week we called for mandatory child safety investigations in domestic violence cases. This came after the coronial inquiry into the deaths of Bradley and Ellen Livingstone and the verdict in the trial of the west Auckland boys charged with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Backers banking on social bonds cash?
    The Government is refusing to say what the $29 million it has set aside for its controversial social bonds programme is for, raising suspicions it is an upfront payment to the project backers, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A… ...
    5 days ago
  • Plastic Free July
    Today is the start of Plastic Free July. Since its inception in Perth, Western Australia four years ago, more and more people and organisations from around the world have joined the call to refuse single use plastic products. Nearly all… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    5 days ago
  • State house sell off Bill gives extraordinary powers
    The Government is about to give Ministers extraordinary powers to take direct personal control of selling state houses, exempting Ministers from normal legal requirements and leaving the sale process wide open for corruption, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The… ...
    5 days ago
  • Cash for charter schools, mould for state schools
    At a time when state schools are struggling in old, cold, mouldy buildings and can barely make ends meet, the National Government is shovelling cash at charter schools which aren’t even spending the funding on kids’ education, Labour’s Education spokesperson… ...
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand needs a wise response to climate change
    Today in Parliament I got to hear from a group of New Zealanders who are concerned for the future of our country. Called Wise Response, the group is a broad coalition of academics, engineers, lawyers, artists, sportspeople and others who… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    5 days ago
  • No alternative as waste scheme trashed
    Nick Smith must explain how he is going to prevent contamination of New Zealand’s ground and water with liquid and hazardous waste after scrapping the only monitoring scheme and offering no replacement, says Labour’s Environment Spokesperson Megan Woods. “From today,… ...
    5 days ago
  • Flawed system rates death traps as safe
    ACC Minister Nikki Kaye needs to come clean about what really lies behind the reclassification of 18 vehicles in her new motor vehicle registration system introduced today, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. "New Zealanders deserve the truth about the… ...
    5 days ago
  • Tiwai Smelter and 800 workers left in limbo
     Workers at Tiwai smelter and the people of Southland have once again been left in limbo over their future in the ongoing debacle over whether the plant stays open, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little.  “It’s not good enough that after two years of… ...
    5 days ago
  • New twist in state house sell-off saga
    The Government has opened the door to buyers of state houses simply being landlords and not required to provide social services, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The Prime Minister said at his post-Cabinet press conference buyers would not “have… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government fees will hit charities hard
    National’s decision to ignore the concerns of charities will see the voluntary sector face hundreds of thousands of dollars in new costs if the Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill passes, says Labour's Community and Voluntary Sector spokesperson Poto Williams. “National’s… ...
    6 days ago
  • Four out of ten for Simon’s Bridges
    The Transport Authority’s decision to fund only four of the 10 bridges promised in National’s shameless Northland by-election bribe is a huge embarrassment for Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “After one by-election poll showed they… ...
    6 days ago
  • Falling consents adding to Auckland housing woes
    Falling numbers of building consents being issued in Auckland will add to the city’s housing shortfall and fuel skyrocketing house prices, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford “The Productivity Commission found there was a shortfall of around 32,000 houses by the… ...
    6 days ago
  • So Mr English, do you have a plan?
    DIpping confidence about jobs, wages and shrinking exports are highlighting the lack of a plan from the government to diversify the economy and build sustainable growth, Grant Robertson  Labour’s Finance Spokesperson said. " Data released over the last week… ...
    6 days ago
  • Serious risks to tenants and assets in sell-off
    Overseas evidence shows there are serious risks around the Government's plan to sell off state houses to social housing providers, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In the Netherlands – where community housing providers supply the majority of social housing –… ...
    6 days ago
  • Land of milk and money
    Kiwi families are paying over the top prices for their milk and someone is creaming off big profits, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “In 2011 the Government told us high New Zealand milk prices were a natural result… ...
    1 week ago
  • MoBIE largesse doesn’t stop with TVs and hair-straighteners
    The number of MoBIE staff earning more than $150,000 has risen 23 per cent in just a year, Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark says. Documents obtained from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show there are now nearly… ...
    1 week ago
  • English wants to flog state houses to Aussies
    Bill English’s admission that he would sell hundreds of New Zealand’s state houses to the Australians is the latest lurch in the Government’s stumbling, half-baked housing policy, Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Bill English should face reality and admit his… ...
    1 week ago
  • Exports continue to fall as Government fails to diversify
    The Government quickly needs a plan to diversify our economy after new figures show that exports are continuing to fall due to the collapse in dairy exports, Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Dairy exports fell 28 per cent compared… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government inaction leads to blurring of roles
    The Treasury wouldn’t have had to warn the Reserve Bank to stick to its core functions if the Government had taken prompt and substantial measures to rein in skyrocketing Auckland house prices, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The problems… ...
    1 week ago
  • Courthouse closures hitting regions
    The Government’s decision to shut down up to eight regional courthouses, some supposedly only temporarily for seismic reasons, looks unlikely to be reversed, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“The move has hit these regions hard, but appears to be a… ...
    1 week ago
  • A Victory for Te Tiriti o Waitangi
    This week my partner, who has a number of professions, was doing an archaeological assessment for a District Council. He showed me the new rules around archaeologists which require them to demonstrate “sufficient skill and competency in relation to Māori… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Tough bar set for Ruataniwha dam
     Today’s final decision by the Tukituki Catchment Board of Inquiry is good news for the river and the environment, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. “Setting a strict level of dissolved nitrogen in the catchment’s waters will ensure that the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister for Women and National missing the mark – part two
    The Minister for Women was in front of the select committee yesterday answering questions about her plans for women. Some useful context is that we used to have a Pay and Employment Equity Unit within the then Department of Labour… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Lavish penthouse spend confirms culture of extravagance
    At the same time thousands of New Zealanders are being locked out of the property market, the Government is spending up on a lavish New York penthouse for its diplomats, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. News that taxpayers… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Television exodus cause for concern
    The shock departure of yet another leading journalist from the Native Affairs team raises further concern the Board and Chief Executive are dissatisfied with the team’s editorial content, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “Annabelle Lee is an experienced… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Million-plus car owners to pay too much ACC
    More than a million car owners will pay higher ACC motor vehicle registration than necessary from July, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “During a select committee hearing this morning it was revealed that car owners would have been charged… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bill will restore democracy to local councils
    A new Labour Member’s Bill will restore democracy to local authorities and stop amalgamations being forced on councils. Napier MP Stuart Nash’s Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Bill will be debated by Parliament after being pulled from the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister for Women again misses the mark – part one
    Yesterday I asked the Minister for Women about the government’s poor performance on it’s own target of appointing women to 45% of state board positions. I challenged why she’d put out a media release celebrating progress this year when the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Banks enter Dragon’s Den in pitch for Government’s mental health experi...
    Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. Dragon’s Den was a reality television series where prospective ‘entrepreneurs’… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Global Mode bullying won’t stop people accessing content
    It’s disappointing that strong-arm tactics from powerful media companies have meant Global Mode will not get its day in court. Today a settlement was reached terminating the Global Mode service, developed in New Zealand by ByPass Network Services and used… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago
  • More questions – why was the Former National Party President involved wit...
    Today in Parliament Murray  McCully said the reason Michelle Boag was involved in 2011 in the Saudi farm scandal was in her capacity as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council. The problem with that answer is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister must explain Maori TV interference
    Te Ururoa Flavell must explain why he told Maori TV staff all complaints about the CEO must come to him – months before he became the Minister responsible for the broadcaster, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Sources have told… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • KiwiSaver takes a hammering after the end of kick-start
    National seems hell bent on destroying New Zealand’s saving culture given today’s news that there has been a drop in new enrolments for KiwiSaver, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “New enrolments for the ANZ Investments KiwiSaver scheme have plunged… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Straight answers needed on CYF role
    The Government needs to explain the role that Child, Youth and Family plays in cases where there is evidence that family violence was flagged as a concern, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Arden says. “The fact that CYF is refusing to… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister confuses his political interests with NZ’s interest
    The Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament yesterday that a Minister who paid a facilitation payment to unlock a free trade agreement would retain his confidence is an abhorrent development in the Saudi sheep scandal, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.  ...
    2 weeks ago
  • #raisethequota
    Last Saturday was World Refugee Day. I was privileged to spend most of my day with the amazing refugee communities in Auckland. Their stories have been inspiring and reflect the ‘can-do’ Kiwi spirit, even though they come from all different… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows
    The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Employers want urgent action on health and safety
    Moves by National to water down health and safety reforms have been slammed by employers – the very group the Government claims is pushing for change, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Relations Iain Lees-Galloway. “The Employers and Manufacturers’ Association has… ...
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere