Written By: - Date published: 8:48 am, October 19th, 2017 - 103 comments
Categories: accountability, act, election 2017, electoral systems, First Past the Post, greens, jacinda ardern, labour, MMP, national, nz first, political parties, Politics, same old national, united future, winston peters - Tags:
It appears that Winston is about to announce the decision of the NZ First party about their coalition partner today. There was a brief press release last night from Winston Peters office last night at 1720.
New Zealand First will be in a position tomorrow afternoon to make an announcement on the result of negotiations following the 2017 General Election.
New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters said he had spoken to the leaders of the National Party and the Labour Party today and, amongst other matters, advised them of that.
There have been a number of responses last night and this morning.
Barry Soper: NZ First to announce partner tomorrow
Vernon Small: If Peters wants a legacy then the playing field is tilting to the left
Claire Trevett: English suffers consequences of Middle Man Paranoia
Tracy Watkins: Winston Peters and the waiting game
But I’d like to point my viewpoint on it.
For the political dimwits and romantic adherents of the “strong leader” who seem to think that coalitions should be formed with rapidity, they simply shouldn’t. That is the path to making stupid decisions, and I am yet to hear a single good reason to do it.
Some of our spray and walk away media spitting their uninformed and ill thought through opinions out seem to think that. But they operate without the significiant feedback that hasn’t been filtered to guard their delicate egos. Yes – I am thinking of Mike Hoskings. But there are a lot of similar talking heads. Try radio talkback some time. Around here I get to have my opinions challenged daily by smart informed people with ‘interesting’ opinions, usually divergent to my own, on a political blogsite with limited filters. It keeps the hubris down.
But I still haven’t seen a credible reason why the current coalition process is a bad one. What I have seen is what I see in the media. A lot of spluttering of vague and unformed incoherence that seem to amount to “we don’t like Winston”. That isn’t a reason. That is just being a simple minded bigot unencumbered with thought.
Just look at Germany, the spiritual home of MMP, the recently concluded election on the 24th of September won’t even start realistic coalition agreements to form a government until the 18th of October. It isn’t expected that a government will actually form until December. In an extreme example of a more proportional system – in 2011, the Belgium government formed after 541 days.
That makes us having a government formed in well less than a month from the election a masterpiece of speed.
We have rational caretaker governments these days who unlike the born to rule stupidity of the National caretaker government of 1984, actually operate in the nation’s interest. That is, in my opinion, because they always have had to operate in cooperation with other political organisations to even form a government. That is what the voters keep voting for – politicians are servants of the public, not their autocratic masters.
There hasn’t been a single party majority under MMP and I don’t think that it ever that likely to happen. Who in their right mind would want that? It is bad enough having to have politicians. We really don’t need to give them that much political room to put their crazed ego maniacal ideas into action.
Sure, governments under first past the post have parties that are internal coalitions. But that is where the living arrangements were established well before the elections. It does mean that they can form governments fast. The problem was that voters didn’t get to decide anything apart from which pack of a limited set of lying self-interested fools we got to choose.
Voters then couldn’t do what I did earlier this year and decide that I didn’t particularly trust whatever was happening in Labour. I decided that my vote could be better used to vote for the Greens and under MMP that would still mean something – see “Ok, I’m pissed off with the Labour caucus again. Time to switch”.
My choices under FPP would have been to not vote at all, or to vote for a local candidate that had absolutely no chance of getting in. As it was I voted Green and for Jacinda Arden for Mt Albert, a choice that fortunately exactly mapped on to my preferences.
Back when MMP was decided I voted against MMP because I thought that it was likely cause unstable governments unable to make forward looking decisions that reached over the decades required – which is one of the major roles of a government. I was wrong and voted for MMP in the followup referendum.
MMP doesn’t mean that politicians or political parties are any better. They just have more limited room with which to cause damage. If you look at National you can often see that they have a clear abdication of a basic responsibility of government. They often appear to operate at timescales that are even lower than most private businesses manage to achieve*.
You don’t have to look far beyond their timing decisions over the last decade on housing, infrastructural spending and immigration to see a pretty good example of piss poor future planning and management. The effects in Auckland, where most of the nett migration winds up are pretty damn obvious. But this kind of short-term thinking damage is showing up all over our society at present. From poisoned rivers and low aquifers , to the armies of homeless beggars on the streets that remind you of the great depression.
But Nationals coalition partners have often forced required long term changes to be made. As examples:-
It means that while useful progress in the last 9 years has been really really slow on anything important, but it didn’t stop.
It is pretty clear that whoever NZ First goes with this afternoon, they will be trying to push for long-term policy gains.
In coalition with National’s habitual short-term and apparently unthinking focus on their organisational purpose of getting elected and into government, that focus on the larger issues will be welcome. Unfortunately I suspect that having to pull against all of that dead weight is likely to cause NZ First considerable backlash at the next election. So I’d expect a strong and decisive win for the left in 2020, and for many terms afterwards.
A coalition with Labour and the Greens is a more natural fit. NZ First will have a more natural role in acting more like the required brake required in all governance.
Move forward incrementally but don’t overreach is damn near the definition of a stable government.
Either way, as a separate party with it own internal structure and supporters, NZ First is fulfilling the required place of a political party in a coalition forming environment. What is really astonishing is how fast this coalition (whatever it is) has actually been formed.
* Before any religious advocate of the free enterprise gets too upset about that statement, please remember that I’ve worked in the private sector for all of my working life. I did a MBA at Otago when I was still interested in continuing to work as a manager. I’ve also been around politics for many decades and have a strong interest in history and legal principles. I know exactly what I am talking about and the limits on both kinds of systems. If you want to argue about my statement on the limits of private business (or government), then I’d suggest you establish your background first. I’m quite uninterested in arguing with ill-prepared fools or their ideological stupidities. I tend to treat them with contempt and humiliation as an educational experience. Be warned.