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Arseneau: Election too close to call

Written By: - Date published: 1:26 pm, October 31st, 2008 - 64 comments
Categories: articles, election 2008, polls - Tags:

In her blog column Teresa Arseneau discusses the polls overall, and what happens if the largest party doesn’t form the government:

Several of these polls suggest that while National is likely to “win” the election – receive both the most votes and seats – it may not govern….But in an MMP election it is important to think in terms of party-blocs. And the source of a vote gain is as important as the gain itself. In the 2005 election, National grew its vote mainly at the expense of its potential partners – Act, UnitedFuture and New Zealand First – thus consolidating the centre-right vote. This partly explains why National’s support is now so large and why its potential coalition partners’ so small.

It is misleading then to simply compare the support of National and Labour. A more accurate picture is gained by looking at the relative support for potential governing blocs….The election is finely balanced between the two blocs.

The next week is crucial: one in four voters is still likely undecided. And support for the two blocs is so finely balanced that changes of less than 1% to each party’s vote, changes much smaller than the margin of error, could significantly alter the outcome of the election.

This time next week we’ll be into the final moments – and then it’s up to the voter. Centre right or Centre left?

64 comments on “Arseneau: Election too close to call ”

  1. principessa 1

    DPF just posted footage of Helen tripping over yesterday. What an A##hole.

  2. Ianmac 2

    Nothing new actually. Nice middle ground rather than dispute her employers position re the infamous Espiner Poll.

  3. Ianmac 4

    Is there a name for people who like to see women fall over so that they can look up their dresses?

  4. randal 5

    yeah creeps

  5. r0b 6

    DPF just posted footage of Helen tripping over yesterday. What an A##hole.

    Farrarcical.

    On topic – it’s been clear for some time that the credible polls have been signaling this as a likely outcome. I hope that NZ can come to see that “time for a change” is an empty motto. If the focus goes on to policies and the credibility of the policies, then the left bloc will be forming the next government.

  6. randal 7

    epsinner poll read chris trotter in this mornings dompost
    comissioned by TV! so they can define for themselves and the natoinal party the nature of democracy
    if I mention the name of the originator of these tactics then this post will be moderated
    get the picture
    anyway with no challenge to their authority and their methods teevee1 is getting creepeier and creepier

  7. Quoth the Raven 8

    Here’s a link to what randal’s talking about: TVNZ’s attack on democracy

  8. higherstandard 9

    In my opinion the vast bulk of Nzers want a party of the centre in control of the next government.

    That is only likely to happen with a strong Labour or strong National government.

    Just my tuppence worth.

  9. Monty 10

    Of course she has probably changed her opinion given the desperation and gutter politics displayed by Labout this week. The general feeling is that Labour Neutron Bomb has completely backfired and blown up in your silly and desperate faces.

    Also the country will want good solid and strong leadership to guide us through the stormy policital waters ahead – and who better to do that than a man who has worked and understands international finance.

    I think you will be surprised at how hated Labour really is and next Sunday morniing you will be crying into your Hubbards at the strength of the defeat you are about to face.

  10. Lampie 11

    is colin and gayon related?

  11. Ianmac 12

    Randal: Consider this. If National gets the biggest single vote John Key can command Winston to join him and National, to get an absolute majority to rule. Wot fun!

  12. the sprout 13

    “Labour Neutron Bomb…” my arse.

    it’s pretty obvious the Herald was engaging in innoculation to defend National. nice to see they’re returning to a slightly higher level of sophistication in their propaganda at long last, since Ellis left they’ve been pretty meat-ball in their attempts to shape public opinion.

    and i expect the ‘tipster’ was engaging in a bit of this
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Jewish_lightning
    for National too, trying to make out Nasty Labour was being mean to the innocent. National are quite good at that, then labelling anyone who springs them as a “conspiracist”.

  13. Quoth the Raven 14

    Lampie – Yep they’re brothers. Just two little tory boys.

  14. Lampie 15

    What I want to know is why no one has asked Mr Key if he will confirm that if he becomes PM, will he still donate his salary to charity? And if so, why not now, if he hasn’t?

    Test of character? Says one thing

  15. Jared 16

    Strangely if it was the other way around the left would be swearing black and blue that National shouldn’t have the right to govern. The party that gains the most amount of party votes outside of a coalition should get the first right to form a coalition, any situation other than that would be morally wrong as Labour would not have the mandate to lead. It would have the power to form a cobbled coalition to control the house, but it would not have the mandate of the majority of the voters, not in my mind at least.

  16. Don 17

    “Gayon”? How mature. As for Chris Trotter’s claims that TVNZ is a tool of the National-led VRWC, does he not realise how intensely dumb he looks to anyone who is not a committted member of the left with those screeds of polemic he emits so regularly?

  17. Anita 18

    Jared,

    What do you mean “the first right to form a coalition”?

    If National gains more votes than Labour and they can form a majority coalition then they get to be the government, if they can’t they don’t.

    If National gains less votes than Labour and they can form a majority coalition then they get to be the government, if they can’t they don’t.

    There’s no “first” about it. There’s no race about it, you can either form a majority coalition or you can’t.

  18. Notice how a Greens Labour coalition is the end of the world over a kiwiblog with 5% holding the rest of parliament to ransom, yet and Act National coalition is just what the country needs.

  19. Jared 20

    Anita: I realise that, hence why I said “not in my mind at least”. But i still think the party that got the majority of votes should get the first right to form a coalition, rather than the party who came second.

  20. r0b 21

    But i still think the party that got the majority of votes should get the first right to form a coalition, rather than the party who came second.

    There is no such thing, constitutionally or in practice, as “first right” to form a coalition.

    Just look at the last election, where National (smaller than Labour) was actively trying to put together a government. It’s a bit rich for them to be going on about it now!

  21. Daveski 22

    sprout

    You overlook the fact that Batman was actively promoting the material to the Dom Post and prior to that the Standard. It’s rich to blame the Granny when the evidence suggests it’s a lot closer to home.

    I take LP’s word that the Batman is not linked to the Standard.

    Still, the indirect link coupled with the breathless ratcheting up of the neutron bomb here confirms that Labour did believe they were on to something.

    Given the broader issues at stake and the economic situation, I would have much preferred that the election focus on policies, not personalities.

  22. Jared 23

    r0b: obviously that was my own opinion, I cant speak for the National Party now can I.

  23. Ianmac 24

    Rob I Agree:
    The rules of engagement work thus:
    The voters cast their votes and these are counted and the lists produce the number of MP’s.
    The MP’s mill around, offer bribes and threats called consultation and negotiation, group themselves by any means, until one or other of the groupings have enough to form a majority.
    Clearly if one grouping have a majority, the other grouping must be a minority.
    Then the major grouping goes to the GGeneral and says “we are It!”
    He says “Good on yer mate! Have a go at governing.”
    Thus the size of each party is relevant only in forming a grouping.

  24. Anita 25

    Jared,

    What do you mean by “first right”?

    That’s the bit I don’t understand. Do you think the larger party should have a one week headstart?

  25. outofbed 26

    Nelson Mail poll
    West coast/tasman
    NAT 44.7 (39.59)
    LAB 33.91 (37.22)
    GR 9.03 (13.7)

    Which if a Nationwide result would be NATS 44ish Lab 37 ish Greens 9 ish

  26. Felix 27

    When Jared says “first” it seems to imply that the parties other than Nat and Lab have to stand in a line and wait to be picked. If the Nats get to pick “first” and pick, say, Greens and ACT then that’s their team and Greens and ACT have no say in the matter cos the Nats went first.

    It shows a complete ignorance of the most basic concepts of how our system works.

  27. Billy 28

    That’s brilliant, Felix. We could do away with the election and just have Helen Clark and John Key do that thing where you put your feet heel to toe and the person with the last whole foot gets first pick.

  28. Anita 29

    oob,

    I don’t understand your table. What are the numbers in parentheses? In fact, what are the numbers not in parentheses? Oh and what do the numbers at the bottom have to do with the numbers in the table? 🙂

  29. Anita 30

    Billy,

    I think that would worry Lockwood odds are Clark has smaller feet than Key.

  30. Felix 31

    How about paper scissors rock then? Always fair.

  31. Billy 32

    Anita,

    That’s the beauty of it. Foot size is no partcular advantage. It’s simply a function of the distance betweeen the participants and their foot size.

    The fat kid will get picked last anyway. Sorry Parakura.

  32. Lew 33

    Felix: Nice.

    Jared: We don’t use an arbitrary system of moral mandates to determine who gets to be in government – we use a codified system of law. It states that the first party leader who can assure the Governor-General that they have the confidence of the House (that is, 50% plus one of all votes in parliament) gets to be Prime Minister and form government. It’s that simple. No `first pick’ rights exist in law.

    L

  33. randal 34

    the point i s for all th edweebs who didnt get it the first time that goy epsinner commissioned colmar brunton to ask electors to vote on a poll that has no relevance ot constitutional democracy and is a figment o f natoinals imgaination
    Espiner and TV! have come to beleive that they can what ever they like and it is time they were takne to task for their immature and infantile understanding of the process of government.
    their schtick is the same sort of crass crap used by a lynch mob(excuse the pun) time for them to go after the election
    Kiwis demand standards and espinner and dallow are really letting the side down

  34. outofbed 35

    Poll results now followed by election result 2005
    Extrapolated Nationally on last national elections result
    by my maths anyway which was never that flash

  35. Lew 36

    Felix: Rock paper scissors isn’t fair – Asians always win.

    (I speak as someone who tried, mostly in vain, to consistently beat kids as young as three in Korea) 🙂

    L

  36. Billy 37

    Pansy Wong for PM then.

  37. Anita 38

    oob,

    I think you had the Greens numbers switched around, try

    National 44.7%
    Labour 33.9%
    Green 13.7%
    NZ First 4.3%
    Other 3.4%

    Making some assumptions about “Others” that would give

    Labour 42
    National 56
    Green 17
    NZ First 0
    Māori 6
    Prog 1
    UF 1
    Act 2

    LPGM and NActUFM are both possible, as is LPG with MP abstention. The Māori Party would decide.

    See, too close to call!! 🙂

    P.S. The Electoral Commission has a calculator for your geeky pleasure.

  38. randal 39

    anita..I dont mind the geeks its the tory dweebs with tight underpants that get me

  39. outofbed 40

    But Anita I have applied the increased or decrease vote for the parties in the West Coast/Tasman to the National election figures of 2005(Party Vote)
    and I get
    Labour 47
    National 55
    Green 11
    NZ First 0
    Māori 6
    Prog 1
    UF 1
    Act 3

    which strangely gives the same sort of options as you 🙂

  40. Anita 41

    oob,

    Everything gives those options 🙂 Too close to call 🙂

    How did you factor the swings? That’s a pretty cool trick!

  41. Felix 42

    Lew,

    Any idea why the Koreans are so good at P-S-R? Small hands? 😉

  42. outofbed 43

    NAT 44.7 %Current poll West coast
    (39.59%) 2005 west coast election result
    so Nats have increased by 13%
    So applying 13% to Nationals Nationwide vote of 39.1%(which incidentally about the same as National total %vote last election)
    we get 39.1% x 113% = 44.18%

    or something like that

  43. randal 44

    who is terese arsenau?

  44. Jared 45

    I never insinuated that electoral law dictated that the party with the majority has the first pick at forming a coalition, I said in my mind that should be the general rule (as codified by for instance, parties insisting that they will work with whichever party gets the majority of the votes). The beauty of MMP is that your party vote doesn’t have to be for FPP mandate, however I object to the notion that parties like NZ First will simply shop around to whoever will give them a ministerial portfolio regardless of the party who got the majority of the votes. How can you insist you have the mandate of the people when you don’t even have the largest proportion of votes to start with, even before you begin getting the progressives, greens, and Labour together. Or do you think that simply a vote for the “left” gives the “left” no matter how many parties comprise it, a mandate to govern.

  45. Pascal's bookie 46

    “Or do you think that simply a vote for the “left’ gives the “left’ no matter how many parties comprise it, a mandate to govern.”

    Yes, and same for the right.

    Say there only three parties, two libertarian parties and a communist party. The voters chose:

    Lib1 30

    Lib2 30

    Commies 40

    That’s a clear mandate for the libertarians. It would be silly to say that the commies deserved the mandate and that one of the lib parties should choose the commies over the better policy deal that they could get from their ideological bedmates.

    Obviously it’s a bit messier than that but the principle holds. Centre parties look like sluts but they have a duty to their voters to go with the block that offers them the best policy deal, all things considered (stabilty etc).

  46. Ianmac 47

    Having trouble changing back to Ianmac. Couldn’t post on other thread then posted twice??? Trying to find the right thread so:

    I can’t find who pointed to this from Anne Else on Scoop where she writes on all the many contradictions on What John Key has said to different audiences. No wonder his credibility is so shaky. Actually I feel a bit shaky when I consider the enormity of it!!!

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0810/S00433.htm

  47. Lew 48

    randal: http://justfuckinggoogleit.com/?q=therese+arseneau

    Felix: They can see into your soul with their beady black eyes.

    Jared: “How can you insist you have the mandate of the people when you don’t even have the largest proportion of votes to start with”

    Get this through your skull: how many votes a single party gets means absolutely fuck-all unless they get a majority of seats in the house. What matters is gaining the confidence of the house. That’s all. nothing else. It’s really fucking simple. It wouldn’t matter if it were 65 independent MPs or 65 individual parties each with one MP – the confidence of the house is a mandate to govern, no two ways about it.

    L

  48. Jared 49

    Or you could calm down. The mandate to govern is the will of the people, those that vote for the government, the same population that the government taxes. Gaining the confidence of the house is merely a formality in ensuring the ability to control the decisions as you wish, it does not indicate any mandate by the people that they want you to govern, the party that receives the largest proportion of votes is a far more indicative response to voter will than merely being able to cobble together a ramshackle coalition.

  49. Pascal's bookie 50

    Jared, I’ve got a longer comment that might be in moderation but ask yuorself this:

    If there were only three parties elected to parliament and two got 30 percent and one got 40 who has a mandate to govern?

    What if the 40 percent party is left wing and the two 30 percent parties are closely allied rightwingers?

    Do the people want a right wing govt in this case, as everyone here suggests, or should one of those rightwing parties have to support the plurality winning left wing party? That sounds pretty stupid and undemocratic to me

  50. Jared 51

    None have a clear mandate to govern, but the party that received 40% of the vote should be given the chance to form a coalition with another partner. As we have seen time and time again, apart from the Progressives and Act, almost every other party is willing to work with any other party on policy, rather than ideological reasoning. Political Parties should exist to promote policy rather than a particular “left” or “right” angle with voters voting for policy rather than colour. I don’t know about you, but I am voting for the party that best fits my needs and policy views than a specific “left” or “right” block.

  51. Quoth the Raven 52

    Jared – how do you think they come up with that policy – something to do with their idealogies, perhaps.

  52. The idea that Labour would not have a moral mandate to govern if they failed to win a plurality is bollocks. It misunderstands the point why we choose MMP. MMP forced the parties to negotiate with each other to form a government.

    If John Key is the leader of the party with the most votes post-election, I am sure that the Governor-General will ask him first to put together a government. But, if Labour and its support parties (whose voters whom would also prefer a Labour-led government over a National one, otherwise they’d simply vote National/Act/UF etc.) control a majority of seats, they would be able to thwart that attempt – and it would fail.

    Even the Maori seats are not unthwartable for National. It should get its Maori supporters, even National will have some – on the Maori role, and ask them to tactically vote Labour to keep the Maori Party from having an overhang. You sound like the crying Tory in the Australian system of preferencing, who got a pluraity in 1st preferences, but the other parties voters disliked the candidate, so they preferenced their votes to the Labor candidate, who thus won.

  53. Jared 54

    Absolutely, but by definition they are hardly identical. They may be closely aligned, but largely, every political party has a unique perspective.

  54. Trust me Jared, if the Labour, Progressive, Greens and Maori Parties can potentially cobble together a majority in the house on the night, there will be no concession. Just as I didn’t expect one from Brash in 2005, even though the same 4 parties in fact could have governed in concert with each other.

    The right will try and drag this out, next by including the 1 – 2% the Kiwi/Family/Pacific parties get, yet whose votes will be likely wasted. They will claim, that along with Nats/Act/UF since more than half people voted for them, they should lead. Yet here I would suggest Jared’s claim, that how do we know who the Kiwi/Family/Pacific party would have voted for, as they have no official representation and thus their votes don’t count.

    Just as much as Alliance voters votes didnt count in 2002, and Outdoor Recreation whose votes didnt count in 2005.

  55. Lew 56

    Jared: “The mandate to govern is the will of the people”

    No, this is where you are quite explicitly wrong. The Governor-General must allow the first person who can demonstrate he or she has the confidence of the house to govern. That confidence can only be gotten if electors vote in a certain number of people who are prepared to vote confidence in that person’s government. That’s the whole point. It’s not a formality – it’s the only way in which government can be formed. There is not `first dibs’ on government-formation – whoever CAN govern must be allowed to.

    I wrote a very long and detailed post on this very topic here, and I’m getting rather tired of explaining it to idiots who think a democracy operates on airy-fairy uncodified sets of ideas which seem nice from a certain angle, in a certain light, rather than the clear and simple rule of law. You’d do well to read the entire thread (On moral mandates), and the one where this debate was initially had, about the Roy Morgan poll which made this possibility obvious.

    Get back to us when you’ve read them – or done some research into how NZ’s system of government works. At that point you might not feel like you’ve showed up to a gunfight armed with a spoon.

    L

  56. Jared 57

    Hahahaha, you assume I know nothing about the Westminster System or MMP, far from it. I understand perfectly, the legal obligations present and the law surrounding the right to govern, whereas my comments were merely my opinion about how I view the election system than statements about legal liabilities about the mandate to govern. On the contrary you have highlighted your bigoted opinion compounded by your lack of comprehension skills (or did you miss my comment “I never insinuated that electoral law dictated that the party with the majority has the first pick at forming a coalition, I said in my mind that should be the general rule (as codified by for instance, parties insisting that they will work with whichever party gets the majority of the votes).” further up on purpose?).

  57. Lew 58

    Jared: If you do indeed know something, your failure to apply that knowledge gives a strong impression to the contrary. Statements like “those that vote for the government” – under MMP, nobody votes for government – electors vote in a parliament which then forms a government. This might seem a technicality, but it’s critically important because it increases uncertainty in voting, and therefore increases projected regret, changing elector behaviour dramatically.

    You disclaimed your whole misguided line of argument once as opinion, and then proceeded to talk about it as if it were fact, utterly failing to distinguish between responsibilities and behaviours codified in law and tendencies which have been elevated to the (temporary) status of convention (but only when it suits people to think of them that way). Your statement that “the largest proportion of votes is a far more indicative response to voter will than merely being able to cobble together a ramshackle coalition.” is just pure and simple bullshit. A plurality is no such `indicative response’ unless you presume all electors are as MMP-illiterate as you are. You do it again with fuzzy use of words here: “How can you insist you have the mandate of the people when you don’t even have the largest proportion of votes to start with” rests on the definition of `you’. Given that electors vote for a candidate or party in the context of who they are likely to coalesce with, the `you’ which includes those possible coalition partners can indeed be said to have the mandate of the people, and by virtue of having received enough votes to give them the confidence of the house, has the mandate, since that is the only way a mandate can be granted. It gets a little bit more tricky if parties do not declare their coalition intentions, but that hasn’t really happened in NZ, and in any case – the lack of declaration serves as fair warning to electors that the party or candidate in question might do something with which they disagree.

    If you want to talk about mandates in political-philosophic terms, or about electoral reform, that’s one thing – if (as you have been) you want to talk about it in the practical terms of elector behaviour, coalition, and and mandate for governance, then your opinions are worth less than your ability to understand and discuss what might actually happen, and why.

    L

  58. Pascal's bookie 59

    That about wraps that up I should think. Nicely put Lew.

  59. Anita 60

    Jared,

    Still “Huh? What do you mean by “first right”?”

    Let’s take either out my and outofbed’s outcomes about.

    National is the largest party, they give Act and UF come hither looks, both of whom leap at the chance… still not a majority. They say to the Māori Party “well then…?” the MP says “Will you vote to entrench the Māori seats?” National says “No”, the MP says “Then no”. National can’t form a majority coalition. Labour, the Progressives and the Greens say “yes” to each other, say they’ll vote to entrench and we have a LPGM majority coalition.

    How do you think that should occur? Do you think L, P and G shouldn’t talk to each other until National has failed to get a majority coalition? Do you think the Māori Party has an obligation to say “Yes” to National even tho they can’t get what they want? Does it bother you that NActUF is a smaller bloc than LPG? In which case which block do you think should get first shot at woo-ing the Māori Party? What do you mean by “first” anyhow?

  60. randal 61

    jared means his own personal desire formulated in a drinking school with his other rugged individualist mates half pissed in a country pub somewhere.

  61. Jared 62

    Not really. I think MMP is an excellent way of incorporating often extremist policy into manageable doses, although im not sure out of what I have posted so far has indicated some sort of “individualist” angle, if it has, I certainly didn’t intend it to. All I was trying to convey was my view that the party (whoever it may be, it doesn’t have to be left or right), if it doesn’t gain a majority of the vote, but it has the largest proportion of the vote (in electorate and party vote), that they should get the first option to try and solidify their lead. Essentially put, the party that comes second, shouldn’t have the first opportunity to form a coalition to defeat the party that came gained the largest proportion of votes.

  62. Anita 63

    Jared,

    But… what do you mean by first? In the scenario above (which I think is the most likely scenario we have), what would first mean?

    Each of the parties will decide where their best interests lie, I don’t think anyone will bother with who asked them first.

  63. Lew 64

    Jared: You’re saying that the Governor-General, when approached by parties #2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 with proof that they have the confidence of the house, should tell them `Sorry – I have to wait for parties #1, 7 and 8 – they might have the confidence of the house’ – in spite of the fact that each party can only give confidence to one leader, and therefore, if one bloc has the confidence, the other necessarily cannot?

    Nice thinking there.

    L

    Captcha: `elation margin’, n. Delta between the disppointment of narrow electoral failure and the thrill of success.

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