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Key’s transparent gerrymander

Written By: - Date published: 8:12 pm, February 9th, 2014 - 101 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, election 2014, electoral commission, electoral systems, john key, Judith Collins, MMP, national - Tags:

John Key wants to be “transparent” about which persons or parties he will want to give the nod and wink to before this year’s election, but not yet. This emerged after close questioning from senior journalists at his press conference last Monday. It will all depend on National’s extensive polling, as he will want to shorten the odds before he comes clear near the election.

John Armstrong summarises the issues well in Saturday’s Herald. Coming clear is perhaps not quite the right way to put it – in an article headlined “Rotten smell arising from one-seat threshold”, Armstrong focuses on National’s refusal to implement the Electoral Commission’s advice on removing the one-seat threshold for allowing additional MPs into Parliament. He starts:

National’s brushing aside of Electoral Commission advice (is) an act of self-interest which diminishes our democracy

and puts his finger on the reason

The one-seat threshold survives simply because it could yet be the difference between National staying in power and going into Opposition.

and the tactics National used

National’s response to those recommendations, which had wide support from those making submissions to the review, was cunning but also predictably self-serving. Justice Minister Judith Collins loftily announced there would be no changes as the convention that there be an all-party consensus for measures altering aspects of the electoral system was lacking. This seemingly principled stance played on public ignorance by conveniently neglecting to mention it was National and Act which were blocking such a consensus.

Armstrong’s comment is

However, it seems to have dawned on the Prime Minister just how manipulative all this is beginning to look. The word “gerrymander”- one not usually associated with New Zealand’s voting system – surfaced in questions at Key’s weekly news conference on Monday.

In response, Key chose his words very carefully as he parried further questions about the likelihood and timing of accommodations. While he wanted to be “transparent” about such deals, he was reserving the right to hold off announcing them possibly until as late as the early stages of the official election campaign.

The Prime Minister’s remarks suggest he realises that National has become too blase in turning parliamentary seats into playthings akin to the “rotten boroughs” of old England and a return to more careful political management is in order.

It’s worth listening to the full press conference – it’s on Scoop and can get it here. It was Fairfax senior journalist Vernon Small who raised the gerrymander issue, asking Key whether gifting a seat to a party that was polling at zero was almost the definition of gerrymander. Key suddenly realised he had to catch a plane to meet Tony Abbott.

Other gallery journalists not always met with praise on this site pressed Key as well on how well these issues and tactics were understood by voters in general.

While Key is keen to get off the subject, I don’t think these issues are going to go away. The preternaturally weak Election Amendment Bill is still due to have its second reading in the House, John Banks is still to have his day in court, and the Maori Party knows that if it is to survive in any electorate it has to distance itself from National.

As one gallery member remarked at the press conference, the Maori Party has vote against National 80% of the time. It would be an interesting exercise to see how many Bills passed into law by virtue of the single-party gerrymander provided by Banks and Dunne.

And of course if Banks is found guilty and has to step down from Parliament, what will Key do then? If he asks National’s already selected candidate Paul Goldsmith to step aside for the zero-polling ACT candidate, it will be a Vernon Small “by definition” gerrymander. If Paul Goldsmith stands and wins, National will have one more MP than they were entitled to as a result of the 2011 election; another gerrymander. If Goldsmith stands and wins a by-election, will he be asked to stand aside in the general election. Will Key have to bring forward the date of the election to avoid a by-election if Banks is guilty? What happens to his majority then?

Oh what a tangled web they weave…

101 comments on “Key’s transparent gerrymander ”

  1. lprent 1

    Nice summary of National’s gerrymander issues.

    My non-scientific sampling shows that it really pisses off solid national party voters. It is kind of startling having them approach me to rant about it.

    I don’t think it will work too well in Epsom from what I have seen. Banks is actively distrusted there at present. And suggesting that if they want ACT they may vote in a born-again libertarian! That seems to upset the mercantile classes that are the majority of National/Act voters there..

    • lprent 1.1

      If anyone is looking for the off-topic diversions they have posted, They’re in OpenMike with a warning. Talk about the topic in the post.

      Put other topics in OpenMike.

      I’m simply going to spam and ban any further attempts to divert from this topic.

  2. Stephanie Rodgers 2

    It’s very interesting to see that journalists like John Armstrong are starting to be much more open in criticising the Prime Minister, and especially the National Party’s pretty obvious attempts to direct their voting base. When the last cup-of-tea meeting happened I think a lot of the media tried to have a bob each way, painting it as a cynical gesture but also buying into it as a sound political move. This time it’ll be much harder to parachute in Seymour or Craig.

    • Clemgeopin 2.1

      Ultimately it boils down to
      (1) How much self respect Seymour, Craig and Key have.
      (2) How much self respect the voters of Epsom have.

  3. Skinny 3

    Key will go for an early election as soon as he can. Forget the rugby or any other reason being mooted, it’s in his interest as his core voters will turn up at the polls. The longer he leaves it the worst the result.

    I challenge anyone to differ as to why he won’t!

  4. Wayne 4

    While you could say that John Banks winning Epsom in 2011 was the result of a deal, that was much less true in 2008, and not true at all in 2005 when Rodney first won Epsom. That was not something that the Nats or Richard Worth wanted.

    And how true is it of Peter Dunne. Has Labour ever really had a much of a chance of winning Ohariu in the last few elections.

    It is not that the one seat thing is actually undemocratic. And in any event it was never proposed to be abolished under the MMP review. Only the “top up” was. But since the “top up” allows a smaller blocs of voters to be represented in Parliament than the 5% threshold, arguably it is more democratic.

    Which is why I think that if the “top up” has to go the threshold should be 3%, not 4% as proposed by the Review Committee.

    • weka 4.1

      “Has Labour ever really had a much of a chance of winning Ohariu in the last few elections.”

      2011, if the GP voters had voted for Chauvel, he would have won.

      http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/electionresults_2011/electorate-35.html

      • Rosie 4.1.1

        Exactly weka. And IF we get a good strong Labour candidate for Ohariu Wayne just might find he may be eating his words. I dare say I sense a change in the wind in this electorate, going by the conversations I’ve had with folks, even the conservative business owning types.

        Last year’s public meeting to discuss the crucial vote Dunne has cast on the GCSB Act, Sky City, Asset sales and may pass on Bridge’s new employment amendments was held in the main hall, was well attended and quite vocal. Compare that with the UF annual conference held in the same community centre but in a smaller room with a tiny turnout.

        Also consider the 64.6% of Ohariu voters who said NO to asset sales in the referendum. After 30 years of holding this seat he is finally losing his flavour among voters, and folks are getting tired of him and his silly photo ops in the local papers.

        It can’t be assumed that Dunne will be part of the next government.

        His days are numbered.

        • weka 4.1.1.1

          Tricky though to guess what will happen if people don’t vote for Dunne. Compare the party votes to the seat votes. It’s fair to say that most of the Dunne voters were also National voters in 2011. And that a big chunk of the GP vote went to Chauvel. Most of the Labour vote went to Chauvel. Hard to know what the NZF vote is doing, maybe it went to Dunne?

          New Zealand First Party 1,478 BARR, Hugh NZF 339
          Labour Party 10,036 CHAUVEL, Charles LAB 12,965
          United Future 672 DUNNE, Peter UFNZ 14,357
          Libertarianz 47 FITZPATRICK, Sean LIB 109
          Green Party 5,453 HUGHES, Gareth GP 2,160
          National Party 18,764 SHANKS, Katrina NAT 6,907
          Conservative Party 636 WOODNUTT, Stephen CNSP 378

          • Rosie 4.1.1.1.1

            Hi weka. Yes, National is it in terms of the party vote, and if you compare 2008 with 2011 even more people voted Dunne – strategically to keep National in power. (he’s also like an old pair slippers to a group voters who are completely disconnected from the world of politics and are just fond of Dunne because he turns up at their kid’s school)

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8Chariu

            But more people also voted Chauvel in 2011 than 2008, so you can see the battle is really over the electorate vote here. Like you say, Chauvel could have won had he received those votes that went to Gareth Hughes (well, to paraphrase you)

            So this year, I really think it can be done. I’m mainly going on the FEELING I am getting. I really do feel a change in the wind. Also we have had a boundary change. Maungaraki has been lost and the suburb of Wadestown has been gained. His old familiars in that chunk of the electorate have gone and he has a new crowd that don’t know him personally.

            Wadestown is affluent and I’m hoping it’s more full of chardonnay socialists than Nat supporters. (any Wadestown residents out there? What are your thoughts?) Either way, there is lots of work to be done but I think we can win it.

            As for NZ First, I couldn’t say.

          • Wayne 4.1.1.1.2

            Well Katrina Shanks got 6,907 votes compared to 2,160 for Gareth Hughes. The reality is that people still make their own voting choices, no matter what Party leaders say. Voters will only follow the views of Party Leaders if they think it makes sense.

            So clearly some Green voters were not prepared to got for Charles Chauvel, just as some Nat voters (a much larger group than Gareth’s voters) were not prepared to vote for Peter Dunne.

            So it looks like the seat favors Dunne, but I do not know how important the boundary changes will be for 2014.

            I don’t think GCSB or employment law will affect the 2014 vote. And probably neither will asset sales, since many people have obviously separated their electoral vote from the referendum vote.

            The question in relation to the public meetings, is whether they attracted anyone other than those whose votes are already predetermined.

            • Rosie 4.1.1.1.2.1

              Shanks and Hughes electorate votes were both well down in 2011 on their 2008 votes.

              I can tell you that there were former Dunne voters at the large public meeting last year, and they were angry, and it was over asset sales. Yes, I agree this seat HAS favoured Dunne, that can’t be denied after 30 years, but for how much longer?

              Wayne, I think your lot shouldn’t feel as comfortable and relaxed as you appear to be – but if you are, that could be advantageous to those of us who want to see Dunne gone, maybe you’ll be less inclined to put up a fight!

              On another note, Mike Smith has asked, what will National do in Epsom? And I would add, what would they do in Ohariu? Not stand a candidate? There is after all no word of Shank’s replacement. Gerry mandering ahead?

        • Rosie 4.1.1.2

          lol. “………..was held in the main hall,……….”. To expand on that random bit of info: It should read “………..was held in the main hall of the Johnsonville Community Centre, just over the road from Dunne’s office”

        • PapaMike 4.1.1.3

          If the Greens can do a deal and agree not to challenge in Ohariu we could easily get Dunns out.

          • Rosie 4.1.1.3.1

            Too late. They already have their candidate, Tane Woodley.

            • middxkea 4.1.1.3.1.1

              Not too late at all
              The Greens could do a deal
              Rogatai or Wellington Central for Ohariu? 🙂

          • Wayne 4.1.1.3.2

            I thought Labour was complaining about the Nats doing deals like this!
            And in any event based on the 2011 result, the Greens pulling their candidate would not be enough if the Nats also pulled their candidate.

      • Stephen 4.1.2

        So a central task for the Labour candidate this year is to persuade those Green voters that he or she deserves their vote.

        • Rosie 4.1.2.1

          Yes Stephen, they will need to campaign hard on that point.

          But where oh where is the new candidate?

          • James Thrace 4.1.2.1.1

            Virginia Andersen is the sole nomination for Ohariu, Rosie. Likely to be confirmed on 23 February.

            Leaving it very late in the piece to introduce a new piece of meat to the Ohariu plebs. I hope they have an effective strategy in place to introduce her beyond small fair meet and greets.

            Chauvel worked damn hard from 2005 which is why in 2011 he had more than enough name recognition. I don’t know that Virginia Andersen has the same level of name recognition, or even if she’s going to get it within 6 months.

            I can’t find much about her on Google, but appears that she is a public servant.

            I doubt Ohariu will be taken away from Dunne this year, unfortunately.

        • Tracey 4.1.2.2

          or labour supporters vote green

    • Paul 4.2

      You’re spinning so much you’ll fall over soon.

      [lprent: Pays to say why. Otherwise it looks like you don’t have any idea. ]

    • greywarbler 4.3

      Wayne you say it is arguably to be more democratic to have smaller numbers represented in parliament. It could however be regarded as more elitist, in that a small number of people have been able to jump the 5% ‘safety barrier’ to get their position, and who can afford the costs incurred in pursuing this venture.

      Also going too low in percentages makes it likely that there will be capture of the tipping point in voting in parliament by groups with obssessive attitudes that are not in the best interests of most citizens. It can result in less democratic outcomes, and more towards autocratic ones, so counter-productive from naive expectations.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.4

      arguably it is more democratic

      The problem, Dr. Mapp isn’t so much the rules as the National Party’s “gerrymandering” – aka corruption, which leaves an increasingly foul taste in even John Armstrong’s mouth.

      What’s your opinion of Armstrong’s views, Dr. Mapp? Speak up man.

    • Tracey 4.5

      Labour Party 10,036 CHAUVEL, Charles LAB 12,965
      United Future 672 DUNNE, Peter UFNZ 14,357

  5. RedBaronCV 5

    Clue me in – if a seat falls vacant within x months of a General eection then there does not have to be a by-election?

    Would an electorate really vote for Craig either? His image is such that I could hold my nose and vote for any other candidate (virtually) on the right just to keep him out. I could see people thinking that way, has anybody asked the left in East Coast Bays?

    Lastly, if Labour stood a right leaning male candidate (they have their uses) in Upper Harbour would the absolute rednecks in the electorate vote for a bloke. Could be headlined as Labour doesn’t believe in a man ban in the electorate?

    • lprent 5.1

      Depends on the will of parliament.

      Wikipedia

      Under the Electoral Act 1993, a by-election need not take place if a general election will occur within six months of an electorate seat becoming vacant, although confirmation by a resolution supported by at least 75% of MPs is required. In 1996 the general election date was brought forward slightly, to 12 October, to avoid a by-election after the resignation of Michael Laws. Twice, in 1943 and 1969, by-elections were avoided after the deaths in election years of Paraire Karaka Paikea and Ralph Hanan by passing special acts, the By-election Postponement Act 1943 and the By-election Postponement Act 1969.

      • RedBaronCV 5.1.1

        Is that likely here? Would opposition parties agree to prolong the current parliament knowing that it can’t really pass any legislation and go for a date of their choice? Nact negotiating between a rock and a hard place -if so would warm my heart.

        • Tamati 5.1.1.1

          I can’t see it happening here.

          Labour would have to force a pointless by-election and would be hammed in the media for it. They would be accused wasting taxpayers money and playing petty political games. They would look like squabbling kids not a government in waiting. National wouldn’t stand a candidate, on the ground they didn’t want this by-election and David Seymour elected as the member for Epsom. As the sitting member it would be easier for him to be re-elected in the general election a few months later.

          The only reason they would try oppose it would be to try and draw out the John Banks saga. It wouldn’t harm the Government too much not be able to pass any legislation for a couple of months. They would still have the confidence of the house anyway.

          • ghostwhowalksnz 5.1.1.1.1

            Pointless ?
            The sitting MP was disqualified for election corruption, surely it would be ACT and John Banks who would be blamed.
            As for the cost, its next to nothing. About 6 polling booths, 30 people for one day.
            Less than a new limo, less than a couple of months of McCullys travel bill.Less than….

            • Tamati 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes, holding a by election 4 months before a general election would be pretty pointless. Labour would be blamed for forcing a pointless by-election not for John Banks’s electoral corruption.

              Sure, it may only cost a hundred thousand dollars or so, but voters are pretty unforgiving when it comes to politicians needlessly spending money. Shane Jones nearly ended his career over a $5 porn movie.

    • Tamati 5.2

      If any electorate was to vote for Colin Craig it would be East Coast Bays.

      It’s one of the most religious electorates in the country and very wealthy. It also has a large number of (excuse the racial stereotype) white South Africans living there who tend to be socially conservative. Like any electorate though, I doubt they’ll be happy about being told to vote for.

      The lefts best chance would be to rope in one of the Albany Councillors, Wayne Walker or John Watson. I’ve got no idea if either have links to the Labour party.

  6. RedBaronCV 6

    Actually we should do our candidate vote as STV

    • McFlock 6.1

      fair comment

    • Stephanie Rodgers 6.2

      Especially given the number of local body elections which now use STV, so a lot of people are used to how it works.

      • Tamati 6.2.1

        Labour would never back STV. They’d probably lose more seats to the Greens than gain seats of National.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 6.2.2

        Thats silly, only useful when you have multiple councillors elected for each ward.

        The MMP system allready allows for representation for smaller parties

        • Shrubbery 6.2.2.1

          On the contrary, it makes voting for a minor party candidate something other than a total waste of time.

        • McFlock 6.2.2.2

          but it’s not about smaller party representation, it’s about who the electorate want to represent them in parliament. Just as it’s about who the residents want to represent them on council.

  7. North 7

    Yesterday Bad 12 and Veutoviper gently urged me to think more carefully about Armstrong’s seeming lash at Key (NZ Herald) for what Armstrong called a stench in New Zealand politics – that is, Key yet again gifting Epsom.

    How about this – given that it’s extraordinary that “KeyHasCharisma” Armstrong should attack Key in that way, like out of the blue, might Armstrong’s ostensibly harsh verdict not be a laying the ground for him to attack Cunliffe hard out if Labour should counter by open encouragement to its voters to vote tactically in response ? I mean there has to be a reason for Armstrong’s outburst.

    Can you imagine Old Aunty Armstrong’s sham moral equivalency spluttering ? “I condemned it in National and equally I condemn it in Labour – hypocrites !” This analysis is predicated on the understanding that Armstrong really is a confirmed and helpless Key lover. After all, we’ve seen nothing else from the fuckwit for years now.

    I’m way over believing that the MSM and its so-called leading lights wouldn’t do their best to skew an electoral outcome in the most cynical way. Their careers depend on their complicity.

    • Anne 7.1

      Can you imagine Old Aunty Armstrong’s sham moral equivalency spluttering ? “I condemned it in National and equally I condemn it in Labour – hypocrites !”

      It would be a valid response if Armstrong had condemned Key for doing a deal with Peter Dunne five years ago. I don’t recall him doing so.

      It would be a valid response if Armstrong had condemned Key for doing a deal with Rodney Hide five years ago. I don’t recall him doing so.

      It would be a valid response if Armstrong had condemned Key for doing a deal with John Banks three years ago. I don’t recall him doing so.

      So, why is he spitting tacks over the latest “tactical deals” Key is contemplating?

      I think North is on to something.

      • North 7.1.1

        It certainly is puzzling. Especially when in the context of a seeming attack on Key, Armstrong then waxes somewhat congratulatory of him:

        “No one knows better than Key that giving voters a nod and wink as to how they should tick the ballot can come badly unstuck – as in the case of the Epsom “cup of tea” with John Banks which partially derailed National’s election campaign in 2011.

        Using such exercises as symbolic means of communicating how people should vote had some value when voters had to be gently prodded to tick for the first time the name of someone not from their favoured party.

        Now that voters are far more conscious of what might be required of them, Key’s desire to be more direct and transparent is the right call.

        That is not sufficient excuse, however, to remove the stench of something rotten in the state of New Zealand’s democracy.”

        Surely Armstrong should have written “That IS sufficient………to remove the stench……” ?

        Does Armstrong intend later on in the year to opine – “I called it unsatisfactory, and indeed Epsom 2011 was an unsavoury spectacle. However for some months now the electorate has seen the the prime minister characteristically open and transparent as to his understandable wish to engage the centre right. It has always been open to the Labour Party, with like openness and transparency, to do the same in respect of the centre left. That it has not because blah blah blah (pejorative) does not licence the Labour Party now to call foul………we do after all live in a democracy where every elector is ultimately the master of his own vote.” ?

        Armstrong’s article a tool in the “normalisation” of rotten borough politics ? Can’t you just hear Key – “I’ve been criticised blah blah blah” then cynically cutting to the rationalisation in the paragraph above ?

        If we are being softened up for normalisation it may be that our own immaculate haughtiness delivers us Key 3. A nightmare prospect. Which as you can see from the timing of this comment has woken me from troubled slumber.

        • tc 7.1.1.1

          Armstrong is a Nat fanboy who will always end up on their side, he is part of the govt spin.

          You don’t keep those comfy roles unless you toe the line, smellstrong doesn’t need to be told, he sold out years ago along with o’shillivan etc.

          Granny calls this balance

      • David H 7.1.2

        Maybe Armstrong is becoming an irrelevancy.

      • mikesh 7.1.3

        Until this year’s election we didn’t have the electoral commission’s recommendations to take into account. A major point of Armstrong’s article was National’s rather Machiavellian refusal to implement those recommendations.

    • veutoviper 7.2

      Some good points, North, and it could be the hidden agenda, although I also support Anne’s points.

      Just to throw another angle into the mix. Last night I did a quick look at the over 100 comments on the Herald website to Armstrong’s article – sorted by the Most Liked option.

      I did not read or analyse them closely, but what jumped out at me was the number blaming/criticising MMP itself – rather than the various elements (list seats, coattails, 5%, etc) that the Electoral Commission recommendations address for reform. (Obviously many comments also addressed these issues, and Key etc)

      Key is known for not supporting MMP despite the referendum results supporting the retention of MMP.

      It crossed my mind that the hidden agenda in Armstrong’s article (or one of them) was to focus ongoing debate against the retention of MMP and the return to FPP – rather than on the reforms needed to MMP itself.

      Just a thought, but would not be surprised.

      • veutoviper 7.2.1

        A footnote to the above. I have just relooked at the comments on the Herald. While the anti-MMP comments are still there, they are no longer far up in the Most Liked sort. The most liked are very anti-Key etc. But I still stand by my initial thoughts as to a possible hidden agenda being to continue the debate against MMP itself.

  8. Rodel 8

    Gerrymander is from early 19th cent.: Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts and the shape of a new voting district on a map drawn when he was in office (1812), the creation of which was felt to favour his party: the map (with claws, wings, and fangs added), was published in the Boston Weekly Messenger, with the title The Gerry-Mander .
    I think the collusion between John Key, John Banks in Epsom/Remuera leaving aside John Armstrong is better described as a Johnny-mander.

  9. Meg 9

    Can you imagine Key’s outrage if Labour were perverting democracy like this??? He would be screaming and whipping the media into a frenzy.

    The left need to make this the story. Key is perverting democracy, doing dirty deals with parties who can’t even get 0.01% in the polls to make sure he can stay in power.

    • PapaMike 9.1

      Remember that after November (or probably October) that the incoming Labour led Government will have the numbers to do whatever it wants to make changes to the electoral system and the odd bits, and perhaps fund political parties as put forward strongly by the Green Party.

  10. Sisko 10

    The left also gains to some extent from the one seat threshold, because Mana and the Maori party are only able to get into parliament because of it (I realize the Maori party has supported National recently, but I suspect they would prefer to go with Labour if a coalition on the left was viable). If we abolished the one seat threshold, would it apply to all electorates (Maori and general) and potentially kill both the Mana and Maori parties?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1

      And yet, I note parties of the Left are unanimous in their support for the commission’s recommendations.

      • Auto_Immune 10.1.1

        …except Lees-Galloway’s bill didn’t incorporate ALL the recommendations from the commission (notably, getting rid of overhang).

        • James Thrace 10.1.1.1

          Should just get rid of the party vote altogether and have 120 Electorates, all with STV.

          120 seats in Parliament.

          120 Electorates.

          Each candidate can declare their affiliation.

          STV voting.

          Voting returns will show which candidates in which electorates are most preferred.
          Those who end up in Parliament will naturally congregate under the banner of the party they stood for.

          Then making up a government will be interesting. Will it necessarily be a case of the most numbers of Electorate MPs representing a party overall that are able to form together a coalition government, or will there be a large amount of independents in Parliament, thus necessitating a multi headed hydra.

        • Pascal's bookie 10.1.1.2

          ” Lees-Galloway’s bill didn’t incorporate ALL the recommendations from the commission (notably, getting rid of overhang).”

          True, which is a shame, but select committees are for reasons such as these.

    • bad12 10.2

      Sisko, i think you might have been working off of a misunderstanding here, what is proposed is an abolition of the ability of those Parties which gain 1 electorate seat to bring further MP’s into the house with as little as 1.7% of the Party vote not the abolition of a Party’s right to win a single electorate and thus gain representation,

      Your focus in your comment upon the Mana and Maori parties is of interest, suggsting your underlying agenda, should the abolition of ‘coat-tailing’ become the rule, ACT, United future, and, the Conservatives would likely be effected as much as the Maori and Mana parties…

      • Sisko 10.2.1

        Oh so it’s a bit different to what I thought. A party which wins 3 electorate seats but 0% of the party vote would still get 3 seats, but a party that gets 4.9% of the vote but 1 electorate will get just the one seat. Is that correct? So the Maori and Mana parties would be quite safe, but the Conservatives and Act would not be able to bring in anyone extra above their one possible electorate each.

        It’s better than the status quo, but still doesn’t quite seem right. Parties can still get effectively free seats…for example if Act polls at zero on the list vote but wins Epsom, they’ll get a seat, and could put a National govt over the line for another 3 years.

        btw who cares what my underlying agenda is. I’m probably one of the least politically engaged people on this site. But I’d like rules that will give us a fair makeup of parliament in 20 years time as well as a fair makeup today, not a system that will leave avenues open for either side to manipulate elections.

        • Lanthanide 10.2.1.1

          You’re correct.

          It’s better than the status quo, but still doesn’t quite seem right. Parties can still get effectively free seats…for example if Act polls at zero on the list vote but wins Epsom, they’ll get a seat, and could put a National govt over the line for another 3 years.

          It’s simply a result of our national electoral system. We still have electorate MPs so that we can have local representation at a national level for when it’s required, as well as for them to help cut through obstructive red-tape and other bollocks on the behalf of private citizens.

          I think this local representation element is important, but that naturally means if someone wins an electorate seat, they should go to Parliament one way or another.

          It would be much more peculiar if a politician won an electorate seat, but because their party vote was too low didn’t actually get to go to Parliament and someone else took their place, or their electorate simply didn’t have any representation for that term of parliament.

        • mikesh 10.2.1.2

          “Oh so it’s a bit different to what I thought. A party which wins 3 electorate seats but 0% of the party vote would still get 3 seats, but a party that gets 4.9% of the vote but 1 electorate will get just the one seat. Is that correct? So the Maori and Mana parties would be quite safe, but the Conservatives and Act would not be able to bring in anyone extra above their one possible electorate each.”

          It does seem unfair, but it does have the advantage of discouraging the use of tactics like the Epsom “gerrymander”, since these would then gain, at he most, one seat.

          The fairest option however would be to get rid of the threshold altogether. Then each party would simply get whatever number of seats its party vote entiltled it to, with the proviso that candidates winning an electorate seat would get into parliament anyway regardless of their party vote.

        • bad12 10.2.1.3

          Sisko, yes i agree, you do seem rather politically illiterate, the state of the game as it is, A party that wins an electorate seat can bring another member into the house off of the Party List with as little as 1.7% of the party vote,

          So, A Party that wins an electorate seat can gain any number of MP’s on an upward scale depending on their Party Vote, which means ACT on 0% of the Party Vote would have no List MP’s but ACT with 1.7% of the Party Vote and a win in the Epsom electorate would have 2 MP’s,

          i personally see little wrong with the system as it stands, with ‘right wing’ voters seeming to have ‘clicked’ on how to tactically vote a damn sight faster than their ‘left-wing’ counter-parts,

          Electorate seats seem to really be a halfway house type situation between MMP and FPP and putting aside the question of how the average head could access an MP responsible for ‘their electorate’ for the moment, switching to a fully Party Vote model of elections might be the only ‘fair’ means of deciding the Parliament,

          Altho to ensure a system of full Proportional Representation so as not to disenfranchise the smaller groupings in society would necessitate a low starting point to gain an MP of something like 1% of the vote and there are a myriad problems which would be the likely result of such a change to the current system…

  11. Sisko 11

    The advantage certainly used to be more balanced back when it was mainly centrist parties getting in on the one seat threshold (UF, Maori, NZ First) plus 1-2 seats at each extreme (Progressives, Mana and Act). Now that the progressives are gone and the Conservatives have shown up the advantage has certainly gone towards the right, and it probably is time for a discussion about it.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1

      That is why the Electoral Commission’s report has clout: it doesn’t embody the stain of naked self-interest.

      PS: we had the discussion. See the report.

      PPS: now would be a good time to ride roughshod over the transparent delaying tactics of 0.0% minority right wing trash and implement the Commissions recommendations.

  12. greywarbler 12

    Could someone advise who is the black-haired person in the images with this thread? I don’t watch tv much, and one thing it is useful for is seeing the line-up of the usual suspects.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1

      It’s Colin Craig, but it looks nothing like his crafted media character, if that’s any help 🙂

    • fender 12.2

      To my eyes there isn’t a black-haired suspect in that line-up.

      There is however a majority that have proven to have black hearts and rotten souls.

    • Lanthanide 12.3

      It’s Colin Craig (who has brown hair) wearing headphones from when he did a radio interview.

      A much larger shot from a different angle is visible on the front page of The Civilian at the moment: http://www.thecivilian.co.nz/

  13. bad12 13

    Picking up on North’s comment above, i do not believe for one moment that John Armstrong for a moment meant a word of the slagging he appeared to give Slippery the Prime Minister over the gerry-mandering issue,

    The article in the Herald was an extremely clever piece of attempted cynical manipulation by those who wrote it, and by those i mean that i do not think that Armstrong formulated the narrative nor the actual text of that particular column on His own,(if i am right, think the 9th floor of the Beehive as a likely place to find the co-authors),

    Clever??? yes bloody clever, imagine if Armstrong had simply printed a column damning the left if they failed to ‘take the moral high-ground’ surrounding advice to voters on ‘tactical voting’.
    While using data from the ‘suspect’ Reid-poll to
    show voter disquiet over such Party political ‘interference’ in the actual vote,(suspect Reid-poll???, Armstrong himself, in a column last year, directly stated that the Reid-poll deliberately skews it’s pols using the questions asked to get answers it wants),

    It is a given that National will urge it’s voters quite openly to vote ‘tactically’ and while we,(we as in the broad church of the left), take that ‘moral high-ground’ claiming that such tactics are gerrymandering ‘the left’ is likely to remain as the Opposition,

    Had the left,both Labour and the Green Parties, gone into the 2011 election with a strategy of countering the ‘tactics/gerrymandering’ of Slippery the Prime Minister by canvassing the electorates of Ohariu and Epsom advising their identified voters how to vote to secure the best chance of a Labour/Green Government it is highly likely that neither Dunne or Banks would now be propping up this National Government,

    National are simply playing the ‘election game’ according to the current rules albeit walking ruthlessly a very fine line, if Labour/Green go into the 2014 election ‘claiming the moral high-ground’ remaining mum on tactical voting then IF the vote is tight i would suggest right now we will have a third term National Government as the result,

    The choice then in 2014 is pretty clear, take the moral high-ground decrying National’s manipulation of ‘their’ voters,(who if Epsom and Ohariu are the template of measurement are happily manipulated), and likely lose the election if it’s a close one, or, take the view that ‘the moral high-ground’ puts neither food on the table of the have-nots nor pays the rent and go into the 2014 election with a deliberate strategy to counter Nationals manipulations educating ‘left’ voters how to vote tactically to ensure the likes of UF, ACT, and, the Conservatives fail at the ballot box,

    i know what my choice is, the rational one, not another 3 of National as the Government…

    • mikesh 13.1

      As much as I would like to agree with this assessment, I think it requires more proof. I am more inclined to give Armstrong the benefit of the doubt rather thaqn accuse him of this sort of Machiavellianism.

      • PapaMike 13.1.1

        +100

      • bad12 13.1.2

        Lolz, i am sure you do, require ‘more’ proof that is, do you think these people leave a paper trail of their actions,

        Armstrong, did He suddenly get a dose of electoral purity, as has been pointed out further up the Post Armstrong sure as hell didn’t kick up a fuss about the Epsom chimps tea-party between Slippery the Prime Minister and John Banks prior to the 2011 election so who the fuck is He trying to fool here,

        Neither do i believe that Armstrong is capable of such machiavellian behavior the bulk of His writing in my opinion being pedestrian to say the least which is why i point out that i believe that He had ‘Help’ in putting the piece together,

        As i said in the comment above, Armstrong directly stated in a column in the Herald last year that the Reid-poll deliberately asked ‘leading’ questions of those it polls so as to get ‘required answers’ thus skewing those polls results, yet here He is using the so called results by the polling company as a center piece of the whole column as some form of justification of His opinion,

        We know, and, Armstrong knows that Slippery the PM will be asking National voters in certain electorates this year to vote for ‘another party’ to try and ensure a National third term of Government so who is Armstrong trying to deter from giving such advice to ‘their’ voters it sure as hell aint Slippery,

        i would suggest the underlying intent of what in my mind is a cunning piece of writing, ‘tricky’ to use the words of Slippery the PM, is by using ‘suspect’ poll results which show a large majority of ‘left’ voters to not appreciate the prior efforts of Slippery the PM’s electoral efforts in the likes of the Epsom electorate is to attempt to deter Labour/Green from doing the same or taking measures in the obvious electorates which would make such tactical voting at the behest of Slippery the PM backfire in His face…

        • veutoviper 13.1.2.1

          I am with you on the Armstrong article, bad12.

          On first reading, I was very surprised at the apparent turn-around by Armstrong, but on second reading picked up on his second to last paragraph as I mentioned on OM yesterday.http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-08022014/#comment-770027

          Somehow the article did not ring true to Armstrong’s usual stance/style, and I am very much on the same wavelength as North and Anne at 7 and 7.1 above. As mentioned in my comments at 7.2 and 7.2.1 above, I think there are a number of hidden agendas in the article, including an attempt to dissuade Labour and Greens voters to not ‘use’ the current electoral provisions to vote tactically as you suggest – and also to keep the anti-MMP debate alive in favour of a return to FPP (Key’s preferred system).

          It may sound machiavellian, but these first few weeks of 2014 have already proven that the election campaign is well and truly underway – and Key and friends are not going to play the nice guys/girls.

    • Wayne 13.2

      Bad 12
      Your insult to John Armstrong”s journalistic integrity is ludicrous. There is absolutely no way that he is the puppet of anyone, or that you can look to “the 9th floor of the Beehive as the likely place to find co -authors.”

      I know it is fashionable to deride the MSM (zealots on the Left and Right both do it), but your proposition is ridiculous.

      In fact I think that John Armstrong does not even vote to ensure he can be as objective as possible. And I know politicians on both sides of the House respect him and carefully consider his articles. He has enough background and respect that his words count far more than most.

      • bad12 13.2.1

        Wayne a very Large LOLZ is what the sum total of your attempt at claiming political sainthood for John Armstrong has aroused in me,

        Pathetic springs to mind as the school room mark for your efforts, Objective and John Armstrong in the same sentence would have most here querying your sanity and me laughing like a loon at the very thought of such having subjected myself to the indignity of Armstrong’s right wing drivel for a number of years,

        Armstrong and the rest of the little college of Herald political commenters might have some licence to write ‘what they think’ but don’t for a minute attempt to have me believe that when it comes to editorial direction Armstrong and the others will not write as they are directed…

        • veutoviper 13.2.1.1

          Interesting that Dr Mapp suddenly comes to the support of Armstrong ….LOLZ

          • bad12 13.2.1.1.1

            VV, The Doktor comes across in that particular comment as being overly strident in the defence of Armstrong, perhaps i have hit a Large Nerve…

            • veutoviper 13.2.1.1.1.1

              LOL. Nerves can be nasty things- very painful when pinched.

              • Pasupial

                I’m willing to take Wayne Mapp’s denial as confirmation.

                Thanks to both B12 & VV for looking past the headlines.

                [lprent: Claiming victory based on a absent criteria tends to be a dangerous thing on this site. I tend to regard it as being part of the pwned heresy and have been known to abruptly ban people making it as flamewar starters. ]

      • tricledrown 13.2.2

        Mapp your full of crapp

        • Wayne 13.2.2.1

          It is apparent that I should not contribute to this site during election year (except perhaps on TPP).

          Better for the partisans to talk to each other.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 13.2.2.1.1

            Before you go, can we take your remarks about John Armstrong’s credibility to mean that you think he’s right about the stench of corruption rising from the National Party?

          • bad12 13.2.2.1.2

            Befor you go, in the face of your non-denial of my contention that when it comes to what the Herald’s political commentators write they Will do as the editor/owners tells them to do, shall i/we then take it as ‘written’ that that is exactly what occurs at the Herald…

  14. greywarbler 14

    Thanks for the Colin Craig identification. It’s good to know that pollies can have a bad face day as well.

  15. freedom 15

    a quick 2c

    Throw out the list grift.

    Voters elect two MPs per electorate.

    Problem solved.

    • Pasupial 15.1

      Freedom

      Double down on FPP and completely ditch proportional representation?

      I wouldn’t even give you 1c for that opinion.

      What problem is solved – National’s imminent loss to a Labour/ Green government?

  16. Whatever next 16

    Now that journalists are finally trying to ask some important questions….Key will always be rushing off somewhere, maybe that’s his secret, never stay in one place long enough to answer ANYTHING

  17. North 17

    Yet again my thinking has been sharpened by your analyses Bad and Veuto. Yes, on first reading Armstrong purports to vindicate the ‘high moral ground’ of the broad Left. Basically, “Good on you people of the Left, stay pure…..”. We stay pure and play ‘fair’. Well, Key’s probably got Epsom and Ohariu at no risk or cost.

    What if the people of the Left DON’T sit back on our ‘purity’ ? What if we DON’T take Armstrong’s encouragement and determine to use the same device, going as far as Waiariki maybe ? Armstrong, later this year as I said – “Hypocrites Hypocrites !” We already know these masters of the dark art do it very well.

    Meanwhile, in all the din and at the last minute Key dashes in and adds the weirdo Craig to the gift list already naming Dunne and Seymour. Then immediately cuts to the Armstrong line I’ve suggested.

    Result ? The sought normalisation in measure established and the broad Left vehemently abused as hypocrites, Upper Harbour embraces EVEN the weirdo Craig. Potentially Key now has not just two but Three Stooges. And in my admittedly insufficient appreciation, of the technicalities, maybe even an overhang ? Beware Craig’s attractiveness to the erstwhile Christian Heritage and Christian Coalition monkeys. They’re still out there. What was their combined party vote in 1996 before the pervert Capill got sent away for serial sexual abuse of kids ? 6.7% between them. If they do that again they have seats anyway but let’s say they miss the 5% – they’re there in numbers on Craig’s coattails.

    Acknowledging the Winston wild card and the trouble he’s bound to cause at the appearance of a unified and co-operative Left bloc, does the broad Left have any option but to get a bit impure ? If we don’t we know Key has two in the hole to start.

    • North 17.1

      Sorry, incorrect figures – 1996 Christian Coalition took 4.3% of the party vote. Christian Heritage Party not running until 1999 when it took 2.4% of the party vote. Point remains. If gerrymandering is ‘normalised’ as to see Craig win a seat we’re going to have more than just one avowed fundamentalist in parliament. And overhang ? Grist for Key’s mill.

    • bad12 17.2

      Yep North, i began to despair reading your comment until the last paragraph that is, your right of course, the upcoming election is looking like a damned if we do and damned if we don’t situation,

      Leaving aside Waiariki for the moment,(Annette Sykes is odds on to remove Flavell there with or without a spot of backing from Labour/Green), i do not think the left has really got a choice as far as Epsom and Ohariu and any seat ‘gifted’ to Craig’s troop of ‘wing-nuts’ go,

      Had the Maori Party not essentially turned on it’s voters and supported this National Government making that Party an untrustworthy one to support the electoral landscape would not have looked so fraught for the left as it now does,

      i do not see Labour/Green educating those voters in the specific electorates who have given an indication of supporting a left wing Government anything but the only logical means to counter th obvious moves by national to give the same advice to it’s voters…

  18. peterlepaysan 18

    Armstrong always loves to cluck about his poster boy and give him advice.

  19. freedom 19

    I am sick of journalists rejecting their responsibility for the sound-bite culture of our political environment. Armstrong’s piece has highlighted the issue nicely.

    “This seemingly principled stance played on public ignorance by conveniently neglecting to mention it was National and Act which were blocking such a consensus.”

    Very true Mr Armstrong, imagine if there had been journalists and newspapers at the time who could have made more mention of it. You yourself could have contributed to alleviating this public ignorance instead of speaking up now, safe amongst the swarm of self-serving acolytes suddenly remembering reality.

    After the decision by Judith Collins, I recall reading a half dozen lines, in even fewer articles, which dared speak the truth of who was blocking the process and these were buried within final paragraphs that had already shifted into wrap up.

    For those who had the knowledge at the time, to now be talking openly about public ignorance is quite frankly bullshit of a high order. I feel it cements Armstrong’s place in the annals of the MSM. Not as a journalist with integrity but a run of the mill propagandist, who despite his many years of effort and achievement, is left holding an opinion no more valuable than a talking head on FOX.

    • veutoviper 19.1

      +1, freedom. But with the caveat on your last sentence – “no more valuable than a talking heard for “Key” – not FOX.

      Ps Kia kaha for your rant yesterday. Hang in there; you are not alone.

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