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…)