Just before the election They Work For You released some impressive work on the voting distances between parties based on:-
There are 110 final bill reading votes included in the analysis. All the votes are from the 48th New Zealand Parliament which was in term between 7 November 2005 and 3 October 2008.
The plot was created by a statistical analysis of bill votes, using a technique called principal components analysis. The two principal components plotted above explain 74.4% of the variance in the way parties voted on final bill readings.
The major variation in the chart shows with the effects of the agreements between Labour, Progressives, NZ First, and United Future. That distorted the positioning of those parties in that they tended to vote the same way. Without that distortion, it is likely that Labour would have voted a bit closer to the Greens. NZ First and United Future would have voted closer to National.
In the coalition forming period, this clearly illustrates the differences between the party groupings, and the problem faced by National. Ideally they would set up agreements that allowed them to seek support from other parties where Act was unwilling to follow. That would allow National to maintain its own policy position while still getting legislation through that Act objected to and was unable to vote for. Otherwise Act would wind up being the tail that shakes the dog, effectively driving the policy direction of National.
Act has to be able to maintain their own policy direction because otherwise they would find it difficult to maintain the independence from National, and would be likely to wither away as being perceived as being not independent or distinctive enough. There have been a number of examples of this since MMP was introduced.
The problem for National is that United Future has too few house votes to perform that function. Now that NZ First is no longer available largely because of Act’s actions, they have a very limited range of options. All of those options vote a long way from National, and would correspondingly probably require larger policy concessions in their areas.
It will make for an interesting few weeks while this is sorted out. I’d expect that there are going to be unhappy supporters of one or more parties in the eventual agreements at the end of it. I suspect that the unhappiness will be greatest amongst the National supporters.
hattip: No Right Turn