Last election, 7,000 people gave their votes to very small left-wing parties that never had any chance of winning a seat in Parliament. That’s 0.3% of the vote; a small but not insignificant amount. If those votes to the Alliance and Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis had gone to the Greens instead (who, after all, have 99% of their policies in common), the Greens would have won another seat.
This election, there are two more micro left wing parties – the Workers’ Party and the Residents Action Movement. Two parties with, as far as I can tell, identical policies and ideology that sit comfortably within the ideals of the Greens and Labour, just more extreme, but have no hope of getting elected (RAM came last or nearly last among the organised candidate blocs in every local council election that it contested last year).
I have a lot of sympathy for these parties and their policies. It is important to have groups that pulling the political spectrum left. But that is no reason for voters to waste their votes on them.
Last election, the micro parties and the Progressive took a combined 33,000 votes, each one of them wasted when they could have been contributing to more seats for the Left. If that happens again, it may be the difference between keeping the Left in power and a National-led government. Which leads to a sad but inescapable conclusion – voting for a micro party rather than a party that will return to Parliament is like voting for a National-led government.