web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

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.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

1 2 3 7

  • Time for NZ to prohibit the killing of great apes
    That ban was widely hailed, and spurred efforts in other countries to get similar bans. However, apes are still being exploited, abused and killed, both in captivity and in the wild. Examples of cruelty, neglect and abuse abound. Apes are… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 days ago
  • Auckland building consents: Tragic
    The only word to describe the latest building consent figures for Auckland is ‘tragic’, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Whatever the Government is doing to address the Auckland housing crisis, it is clearly not working. ...
    2 days ago
  • A whiff of a new biosecurity scandal?
    A pest which could create havoc for New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture sector must be as much a focus for the Government as hunting out fruit flies, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “While the Ministry for Primary Industries is… ...
    2 days ago
  • Government shrugs off health sector crisis
    Despite new evidence showing that cuts to health spending are costing lives the Government continues to deny the sector is struggling, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Health services in New Zealand are in crisis. ...
    2 days ago
  • Parata lowered the bar for failing charter school
    When Hekia Parata became aware that the Whangaruru charter school was experiencing major problems her first action was to drop standards by reducing the number of qualified teachers they had to employ, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins has revealed. “Hekia… ...
    3 days ago
  • National not being straight about the economy
    John Key and Bill English need to be straight with New Zealanders about the damage their failure to diversify the economy is doing, after new figures show export growth plunged due to a collapse in dairy exports, says Grant Robertson.… ...
    3 days ago
  • Mind the Gap
    This week the International Monetary Fund released a report on the wider economic value in closing the gender pay gap. When even the bastions of free-market economics start to raise concerns about gender pay gaps, we have to realise how… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Labour will hold National to parental leave promise
    Labour will hold National to its promise to increase the support given to new parents of premature, multiple birth and babies born with disabilities, Labour’s paid parental leave campaigner Sue Moroney says. "I am naturally disappointed that after battling for… ...
    3 days ago
  • It was all just pillar talk
    Steven Joyce’s confession that he can no longer guarantee a pillar-free design for the New Zealand International Convention Centre shows the Government has abandoned its dream of creating an ‘iconic’ ‘world-class’ structure, says Labour Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “Steven… ...
    3 days ago
  • Australians move on offshore speculators
    John Key might want to have a quiet word with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott about Canberra's just-announced crack down on offshore speculators when he visits New Zealand this week, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says."Tony Abbott's centre right government… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government at odds on overseas driver crashes
    National backbencher Jacqui Dean has spoken out about overseas driver crashes, putting herself at odds with Prime Minister John Key who is on record as saying it’s not a big issue, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “I’m not surprised… ...
    4 days ago
  • Human Rights and the Palestine Crisis
    Last week I heard two Palestinians speak at Wellington events about the ongoing crisis in their country. Samar Sabawi spoke to a full house about the history of Palestine and gave us a lucid and disturbing account of the situation… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    4 days ago
  • Time to take real care of our kids
    An Amnesty International report has once again criticised New Zealand’s track record on looking after our kids, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. The annual report, which looks at global human rights abuses highlights not only the fact that high… ...
    4 days ago
  • John Key wrong about Labour’s war vote
    John Key’s desperate claims that the former Labour Government didn’t put combat troop deployment to a Parliamentary vote are simply wrong, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “It was disgraceful that the Prime Minister ran rough shod over democracy and… ...
    4 days ago
  • Māori language bill needs work
     It is clear that the first draft of the Māori Language Bill was about structures and funding rather than the survival of te reo Māori, Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.  “Labour is pleased that the Minister of Māori… ...
    4 days ago
  • Report proves troubled school shouldn’t have opened
    The long-awaited release of an Education Review Office report into Northland’s troubled Whangaruru charter school proves it should never have been approved in the first place, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This report identifies problems with absenteeism and disengaged… ...
    4 days ago
  • Reply to PM’s statement on deploying troops to Iraq
    “The decision of any Government to send troops to a conflict zone is a very serious one, and it is right that this House takes time to consider it, to debate it, and, ideally, to vote on it, but we… ...
    4 days ago
  • Minister must take action on death trap slides
    Workplace Relations Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse must take urgent action to ensure inflatable amusement rides don’t become death traps for children, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Relations Iain Lees-Galloway says. “No one wants to stop kids having fun, but horror stories… ...
    5 days ago
  • Manus Island and the New Zealand Government
    This week the Greens have participated in awareness activity about Manus Island, the refugee camp on an island in Papua New Guinea where Australia dumps asylum seekers. John Key says that he has every confidence in the Australian Government’s claim… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Election Inquiry – Getting accessible voting on the agenda
    James Shaw has been doing a series of blogs on the Election Inquiry into last year’s general election.  I thought this was a great opportunity to raise an issue very dear to me – accessible voting. Last year’s general election… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    1 week ago
  • RMA changes no solution to Christchurch housing
    Housing will continue to be a big issue in 2015. The latest Consumer Price Index, released last month, shows both good news and bad news on the housing front. After years of being the most expensive place to build a… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Saving kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges
    It is amazing that you can hear the song of the endangered North Island kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges, less than 50 kms from the central city. A heavy schedule of policy workshops at the Green Party’s Policy… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Let’s not turn a blind eye to human rights
    The Cricket World Cup has just opened in New Zealand, and it’s an opportunity for us to shine on the world stage. International sport can be a chance for us to build relationships with other countries, and examine what it… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Its Just Not Cricket
    This week it was my privilege to work with Sri Lankan Tamil communities in this country and host Australian journalist and human rights advocate Trevor Grant. I knew a bit about Trevor from his biography but I didn’t know just… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for NZ to #BeCrueltyFree
    The Government is about to progress the final stages of the Animal Welfare Amendment bill. This will be our last opportunity to get changes made to improve the bill to ensure a better outcome for animals. I have put forwards… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago
  • We want access!
    Access to buildings is a big issue for many New Zealanders. It looks like that, due to the hard work and persistence of people in the disability community, the Government may finally be starting to take access to buildings seriously.… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Greens call on Super Fund to divest from fossil fuels
    The Green Party today called on the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (the Fund) to divest from fossil fuels, starting immediately with coal. The call was accompanied with a new report, Making money from a climate catastrophe: The case for divesting… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Young Kiwis’ housing crisis
    Shelter is a fundamental human need along with food, water and clean air. All humans need adequate shelter; it’s a human right. Warm, safe, stable accommodation is critical for young people to be able learn and grow and just be.… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • On the River Patrol in Te Tai Tokerau
    Last Wednesday, I went on a tour of some of Northland’s rivers with  Millan Ruka from Environmental River Patrol as he monitored water quality throughout Te Tai Tokerau. The dry conditions meant we couldn’t use the boat but we visited… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Opening of Parliament 2015
    Russel NormanOpening of Parliament Speech February 2015 Tēnā koutou Tēnā koutou Tēnā koutou katoa. A brief history of climate change What a summer! It's been hot, even here in Wellington, hotter than any summer I can remember. All… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    3 weeks ago

Removed at the request of The Daily Blog.
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere