marsden_online: (write)
After the election results came out I saw a lot of grief being expressed on Facebook, one particular form being people lashing out at any supposed right-aligned voters on their friends list and asking them to leave (there was a similar outpouring in 2014). More than one person has commented to me that they are uncomfortable seeing this level of vitriol expressed by their normally caring friends. I accept people's right to express their upset in this fashion but also doubt that there will be any lasting effect; for the simple reason that probably no-one in those friends lists did actually vote National.

There are a whole heap of fallacies tied up in the emotion these posts, often from people who IMO would normally know better. But the root of it is assuming that people like us are representative. We're not.

NZ's lauded "two degrees of separation" notwithstanding, practically all my NZ voting friends who are likely to be reading this, and all their voting friends, and all theirs are a drop in the bucket or NZ voters. We are not the people crammed at the bottom of Inequality Tower.

We mostly have some things in common which are luxuries to the larger portion of the population; for example the
- time
- skills and
- access to multiple sources

... to keep ourselves informed. And we do
- take an interest in politics
- seek out a variety of views even if we don't always agree with them
- can trace the cause and effect from policy to outcome
- we can critically examine the statements made during the campaign (and other times)
- typically have decided who we are going to vote for well before reaching the polling booth

For a sadly more realistic perspective on the level to which the median voter is informed, take this message from Emma who has been involved at the chalk face of a number of elections and was observing at a polling station this year.

Something I recall reading in previous years about the circumstances and psychology of the majority of voters - which or course I can't find now because google results are clogged with news about the election just been so I will have to paraphrase:
- politics isn't something thought about often; their immediate lives are choked with higher priorities (work, family, survival)
- the effect of government policy on their lives- especially negative effects - is often so removed from the policy or the implementation of the policy (especially over time) as to not be attributed
- outside "tribal" affiliations often have not decided who to vote for for before reaching the voting booth
- are going to look at the list of names/parties and remember only what they have heard/seen in the mainstream media and from their friends (who may be no better informed)
- in the end are probably going to go with what feels like the "safest" option

And this is why campaigns of fear, attack ads and misinformation like National ran this election, backed up by bold statements about how well things are going, work. If you are just getting by or you are maybe struggling a little but still have hope: change feels risky.
While according to all social indicators the state of country has been run down by the current government over the past three terms it is clear that the majority of people are not yet at the stage of voting for risk for the other likely reason - out of desperation.

(Ironically it probably speaks to the success of the last Labour government that the majority of New Zealanders who voted felt comfortable enough in their lives to take a chance on change.)

This is not helped IMO by the narrative that continues to prevail that someones circumstances are somehow a reflection of their own efforts and worth as a "productive member of society". This narrative greatly aids the government of the day (whichever side it comes from) in disclaiming responsibility for those not doing well (while of course claiming credit for the circumstances of those who are doing well), and is why elections in NZ have so often been the sitting governments to lose rather than the oppositions to win; another hangover from the continued insistence on framing things in an old FPP two-party style manner rather than a coalition based MMP style manner :(
marsden_online: (write)
I experienced less disappointment on elections night / the next morning than last time; probably because National does not have the straight up majority of last election.

The post election commentary as rounded up by Bryce Edwards at the Herald is split with those firmly on the right lauding National's having the largest single share of the vote as a win and moral majority while more numerically educated voices point out that under MMP being the largest major party means diddly squat (especially when your raw number of votes fell); under MMP it is the coalition which represents the largest number of NZers. The fact that we've had a couple of instances of one party effectively managing to govern alone does not change that.
There is a strong narrative at the moment that National has received an extraordinary result. But has it really? The vote for centre right parties has actually declined significantly at this election. At the 2014 election, the aggregate vote for National, Act and the Conservatives was over 52 per cent. This year, the final result for those parties is projected to be little more than 45 per cent. What's more the National Party has now lost allies - United Future and the Maori Party are gone from Parliament, and Act's party vote has halved. Basically, National has cannibalised the vote of other rightwing parties. In devouring its coalition partners, National might now look stronger, but in reality, fewer voters are actually supporting parties of the right.

But it is the illusion that National has won significantly more vote than the political left that particularly needs addressing.

Not included in the roundup but on my radar this from Stephanie Rodgers at Boots Theory
"A side note: The repeated line of questioning about whether there’s a rule, convention, or expectation around the largest party forming the government demonstrate how we’ve really failed to grasp the core function of MMP: delivering a balanced one which is the most appealing to the broadest number of people, not an all-powerful one based on arbitrary geographical lines.

[I continue to be frustrated by the NZ love affair with a two-party, us or them, "rulership" concept of government]

Surprised by the obliteration of the Māori party but I guess that is the kererū coming home to roost after two? terms of being in coalition with National against the expressed will of their constituency; now that Labour is looking like an effective alternative again.

This makes things interesting because National doesn't have the option of getting support from one minor party or another on a case by case basis. It's basically all or nothing with NZ First ... rendering ACT also irrelevant so maybe we can look forward to them being gone altogether next time.

Riffing off a friend "Democracy: one man, one vote. Today that man is Winston Peters". He does not seem likely to announce his decision until the outcome of the special votes (which includes all those who enrolled while voting early) making about 15% of the total vote - easily enough to move things one way or another by a seat or two. While my personal preference at the present time would be a functional MMP coalition of Labour / NZ First / Greens I think my second preference would be his smartest play: he supports either National, Labour/Greens or Labour with additional outside government support from the Greens form a minority government and rides them for support on every piece of legislation.

That's more how MMP is supposed to work in my opinion; it shouldn't matter which party puts up legislation it should stand on it's own merits against all parties rather than being successful or not at the whim of the "governing" party or parties.

Unfortunately I don't see Winston being happy without a seat at the cabinet table.

Either way I'm not seeing an awful lot of progressive legislation managing to be passed or a significant culture change in the public service over the next few years :( So the rest of us who are comfortable are just going to have to keep stepping up and looking out for our friends - and strangers - who continue to be ground down.

Particular electorates I was interested in (preliminary results)

# Christchurch Central
Finally dropped National's Nicky Wagner who mostly seems to have MIA for the past term for the Labour candidate; but there is only 0.1% between Labour and National in the party vote

# Epsom
ACT remained in existence thanks to National party voters faithfully using their electorate vote to get David Seymour the electorate seat; however the loyal pooch has already been kicked to the curb for having no actual use in the next terms government.

Sadly it is too soon to say ACT is finished; we will probably have to wait another 3 years to find out. Still I wouldn't be surprised to see a by-election in Epsom sooner than that.

# Ilam
Gerry Brownlee of course won convincingly :( But Raj Manji (Independent) did manage to get over half as many votes as Brownlee, and the Labour candidate managed nearly that many. Combined a total of exactly as many as Gerry (I put the numbers through the calculator several times) so there is actually hope that a well targeted campaign might get him out next time.

# Ōhāriu
Labour took the electorate on the night but only barely ... 679 votes is easily small enough to change on the specials. National easily got the bulk of the party vote. I hear that happened in a number of electorates.

I am not a fan of the Labour candidate who got in there; Greg O'Conner has a well documented history of being "tough on crime" and pro the police having carte blanche to use force and little to no accountability for their actions. I do not buy his line that he was only saying what he had to as the spokesman of the police union; as there is no indication that he was actually trying to challenge the negative culture and corruption within the NZ police force.

# Wigram
My own electorate; Megan Woods won by a far more comfortable margin than last time (I switched my electorate vote to Labour because of the earlier result) but the party vote only had 0.4% in it and went to National :(
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Giving is a major part of my life. Probably the greater part of it is invisible; charities I regularly support, flybys on givealittle and so forth but to be honest I find these less satisfying than what I can do directly for those around me. Making someone's life immediately better even if only for a short time kicks off one of the few emotional highs remaining to me. You can argue about whether than makes it altruistic giving or not elsewhere, I don't care. What is important to me is that there is less stress in a persons' life at frankly, little substantial cost to me.
- pad your groceries? People who have full stomachs are happier, healthier and think better.
- top up your bus card? Represents pocket change to me, to you might represent the freedom to leave the house and get to where you want/need to be when you want/need to be.
- covered an unexpected shortfall? Luck comes in good and bad, I have plenty of the former so please let me share it with you.

Life does not treat everyone equally, but it is within our power as people to redress the balance. Especially those of us to whom it has been more than fair; and I think compassion demands that we do so. Some people prefer to argue from a position of self interest - make sure other have (just) enough and they won't be motivated to try and take what you have to redress the balance. That's better than building fortresses ("gated communities") and hiring guards to keep the mob from the door I suppose.

I can understand how a person who has had to struggle, work and fight their whole life to get above the line and stay there might not be able to let go of that mindset, no matter how much success they achieve it may be that in their own mind they will always be poor and one unexpected bill away from disaster. But I also know that there are many who do not fall into that trap and having made their way to a comfortable position do a great deal to try and help others do the same. That makes much more sense to me - having been there how would not want to get other people out of the situation once you have means?

I am not one of of these; the metaphorical spoon in my mouth may not have been silver but it is less through my own efforts that I am where I am today than the gifts afforded from from my parents' hard labours. And so I can understand how, up to a certain age, a person can be raised simply not cognizant of the harsh realities of life for many. In the modern world my sympathy for that mindset runs out a year or two after they have reached university and should have had the opportunity to start taking a critical look at the world around them.

As always grateful that again, life has been more than fair to me and my sympathy for the struggles of others is born of intellect and a sense of fairness than hard personal experience.

So we come back to the position where I have- more than enough and so I endeavour to share my good fortune. I give this less than I would like; for two reasons
- Rationally I do need to keep putting some aside for my own future. How much is arguable, but I am not at the position where I can absolutely soak a large expense (such as the one about to be incurred for drain replacement) just yet, and I have no certainty that NZ's welfare state will be in a condition to look after me in my old age.
- it occupies not just the physical resources but also time and energy.

On this latter we have as a society theoretically harnessed the specialisation of labour to handle this. We pay takes to a central organisation (government) and one of the things they are supposed to do with them is make sure that if life treats us poorly we are looked after to a not-uncomfortable standard. In the meantime our money is (supposed to be) used to look after those who life is currently treating poorly. This should free us from the greater part of a need to worry about the circumstances of our families, friends, acquaintances / strangers.

Our current government is rejecting that part of it's duties (granted it is not the first to do so). Instead of going directly - in cash or in kind - to people who need food and shelter significant amounts of "our" money are shown to be being spent propping up companies that by National's own market ethos should probably be allowed to fail / take their business elsewhere, or paid in bribes to already wealthy individuals in countries where corruption is blatant, or siphoned off as indirect subsidies to private accommodation providers and old-boys-network businesspeople who are already "above the line".

One result of this is that I - multiplied by who-knows-how-many-others - have to spend more of my time and energy personally directing resource to the people I can see in need, and relying on the voids which are charities to be doing the right thing just to help regular people when they should be able to focus on those who positions are truly dire. And in some ways that /waste/ pisses me off just as much as seeing people around me living in poverty and the mis-appropriation of public money.

I am one person of good but still moderate means. I cannot do enough to even scrape the surface. I can feed a few people but I cannot house them. Organisations which have been set up explicitly to address the issues and channel the contributions of people like myself are barely scraping the surface. Central government is actively and deliberately following policies guaranteed to make the situation worse while benefiting those who already have more than enough.

My local council is one of the largest providers of social housing in the country (an operation which is currently being strong-armed to privatisation by central government). I occasionally encounter people who state vehemently how they are against their rates being used for such a purpose. I have no time for this attitude. Homelessness and poverty have both local and regional aspects and I absolutely expect our elected representatives at all levels to work together at the task of redirecting a sufficient portion of our taxes to those in need (rates being pretty much the closest we have in NZ to a formal tax on land even if they are not particularly responsive to capital gains).

Taking care of those who do not have the means to take care of themselves I consider the first duty of a supposedly democratic government. All else follows from or supports that. In doing so, for those of a more right-wing bent, people are freed to be more productive and contribute their best to society and the future rather than burning our all - and in the case of those who turn to crime, others all as well - just to survive.

[deep calming breaths]

The point I was getting around to is actually about the visibility of giving. This morning I posted quickly in my FB and Tumblr

When we talk about “give and take” why is the implication always that the giving and the taking are between the same two entities?

If I am in a position to give freely what someone needs why is it expected that I am expecting something in return? If you are in want of something why should it have to come from someone that already owes you or that you are then expected to owe?

Much better that we all give what we can when we see a need, and try to make out own desires visible without guilt or suspicion for others seeking to fulfil them - or be it necessarily with the the acceptance that there may not be anyone who feels they are in a position to do so.

I know a lot of people above and below the line, and plenty of those have moved from one side to the other and sometimes multiple times over the years. I am fairly public about much of the personal giving I do, not because I desire the plaudits (although they are nice) but in an endeavour to set an example to others above the line who may meander across my trail. To make giving freely visible and accepted, because I alone cannot make a lasting difference.

Related reading: that came through my Facebook feed while I was typing this up: How we got Here


Sep. 21st, 2014 10:53 pm
marsden_online: (Cat Yarn)
Like most of my friends I went to bed last night in a state of grief. As the number of non-voters has come clearer today and the relatively small % of people who actually produced National's likely dominance of NZ politics and discourse for the next 3 years became apparent that grew into a deeper sadness.

This post is just a stream-of-consciousness, spit-wadding ideas which are floating around in my brain out against the wall.

First to note I'm not against National in general. My politics are well to their "traditional" left but that doesn't mean they don't have good policies. There are multiple ways to get things done and government in NZ is (supposed to be) about influencing which way - or preferably which middle path - is taken to address the challenges we face as a country. Unfortunately NZers in general don't seem to have wrapped their heads around the idea of consensus politics, and I include senior members of our parliament here.

I am against the sort of cult of personality, right to rule politics practiced by the current National leadership. I am strongly opposed to a lot of stuff the current national party is implementing which seems driven largely by ideology rather than with regard to proven (or disproven) outcomes or I fear by ulterior motives by which I mean the true results which is being sought are not the ones which are being promoted. This is unfortunately an inherent problem in politics.

My echo chamber is full of anger at the people who didn't vote/appear to be uninvolved or uninterested in politics. It is possible that this actually reflects positively on the general standard of living in NZ that so many people are able to feel that it won;t negatively impact on them regardless of who of the "right/left" is in power, but the truth of the matter is more likely that many of these people have such busy lives just keeping whatever standard of living they have that they do not have the luxury of taking time to engage with the issues of the day. Which to me is an indicator that society is not overall as well off as people think, because in a well off society this time would not be a luxury.

I've seen a lot of confusion over the way so many people seem to have split their vote Labour/National. In a lot of ways I see this blatant vote splitting as a positive, it means that a) the people who are engages understand the difference between who represents them locally and who has overall control of the country and b) the Labour/National(Greens) tribalism is starting to die off. Under MMP it should be perfectly feasible for a National/Labour coalition to form, given that the two parties aren't that far apart on many things. The only thing preventing closer relations between the two parties is that so many old-guard have so much invested in the brand of *not Being X*.

"The right" certainly did get it's vote out better that "the left", even given that explicit support does appear to have dropped since 2011. I think while everyone was distracted by the Brand Key sideshow behind the scenes they actually did work their networks and the party machine make sure that people were going to go to the polls, where the left relied heavily on people going to vote "for the greater good". "The right" understands at a far more integral level that once you have power/influence you have to work to keep that, constantly, and they have. Sadly they chose do do this through the last term by dirty means rather than on the strength of the outcomes of their policies, which one would be expecting to see by the end of a second term. Unfortunately it can be really hard for Sam Citizen to tell the difference between outcomes from policy and mediocre outcomes from a favourable environment.

The general agreement in the part of my echo chamber which talks about such things seems to be that the majority of non-voters probably fall somewhere between Labour and the Greens in the political spectrum, that there is a large gulf there who probably once would have been Labour but can't bring themselves to move Green. There is a lot of talk of Labour having to re-invent itself. Frankly I think Labour would do better splintering along it's well-recognized internal fractures into multiple smaller parties rather than trying to be "The party of the Left" that they once were - only that way can they actually address the spread of issues rather than failing to be all things to many people. It wouldn't hurt National to split either come to that. In my view that is the political landscape which would best show the power of proportional representation for actually building contextual solutions which address the concerns and interests of a majority of those affected, which grouping is going to be different for every situation, and thus widely accepted.

I do wonder how much of the non-vote was younger Internet party support which didn't actually get around to voting. Good on them for stirring up the youth and at least getting them enrolled (I think they had a positive effect there). Hopefully some of those young people rather than being disillusioned and put off politics for the next decade of their lives will maintain an interest and maybe help fill the desperate need for voices speaking up about issues that matter to that demographic, issues which in a lot of ways do overlap with mine but then I'm not "typical".

One thing is clear though - even if the bulk of NZ is doing OK this government is unlikely to do very much - or even less - for a lot of the people who are near the bottom of the heap in NZ, which means that the rest of us with the means to do so are going to need to step up even more. I may have to bring forward some plans I was not planning to implement until after putting more retirement savings / personal buffer aside.

Look after each other out there.
marsden_online: (write)
You can read the full outline of the policy on the Labour Party website - I'm just going tto quote the bullet points relevant to my opinion
- $60 per week for a baby’s first year of life, universal for all families earning under $150,000 per year.
- Up to $60 per week between the child’s first and third birthdays, targeted at modest and middle income families.
- The first year payment will go to around 59,000 households, covering almost 95 percent of children under one year of age.
- The one and two year old payment will go to around 63,000 families, covering 56 percent of all one and two year olds.
- The Best Start Payment provides desperately needed support to the estimated 50,000 children under three who are currently living in poverty.
-The Best Start Payment will benefit all New Zealand children born after 1 April 2016.

Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows me I agree with the thrust of this policy. What is getting my dander up is they way it is being touted in the media: the conversation is being cast in terms of "bonus", or even "handout" (bad Radio Network news - I expected better from your editors).

(I'm neither here nor there on calling it an "election bribe" - actually correction here I'd go so far as to say it's a two-election bribe given when it is due to kick in - but that doesn't necessarily mean it is a bad idea.)

This policy is simply to newborns what superannuation is to retirees and the kiwisaver kickstart and "tax credit" are to working adults. Not a handout or a bonus but a (near-)universal entitlement to which no stigma should be attached.

What it is spent on can't be precisely targeted or course, but I am emphatically not in the camp which believes people are going to have a child for a measly $3000 (even $9000 over 3 years) from the government, or that it will just disappear on "beer and smokes". There might be a few who are that bad at maths - but the "Support for expectant parents" part of the policy shows intent to identify, catch and educate people this time around. (Whether the resources will follow to keep on top of this (responsibility is being offloaded onto the DHBs) may be another matter.)

For a high-income family (and I/S helpfully points out that the median is $75,000 this might only mean $3000 in a trust account towards future education fees or their child's inevitable OE. For a family on minimum wage $60 a week will represent the basics in food, nappies, and so forth without having to cut back somewhere else; or the lost wages from having to take a day off work to look after a sick child. For low and middle income families it might mean being able to cope with unexpected expenses like taking an older child or even an adult to the doctor before they infect the entire family/school with something contagious. And -that- is where the force-multiplier of this policy really lies - more than just a benefit to the babe and/or their parents but a benefit to society as a whole.

The benefits of alleviating poverty in terms of reduced health, law enforcement and welfare costs farther down the track are well researched. Unfortunately measured in terms-in-government that future may as well not exist. The value in a policy which will take decades to properly bear fruit unfortunately seems beyond the comprehension of many voters; or if not beyond comprehension then beyond consideration. And the value of working together to build on what previous governments have done right and giving due recognition regardless of where they may have fallen on the political spectrum is alas still foreign to our adversarial political system.

But this is a policy which slim though it is increases the odds of when a child looks around at the poverty trap their parents may be in and say, to quote Dasini, "That’s not gonna be me. Nuh-uh. Nope." circumstances will actually permit. This sort of policy is making luck - increasing the preparation, increasing the opportunity.
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
New Zealand is governed (not led) by a representative democracy. Elections are the method by which we choose those representatives but once they are chosen their job is to represent all of us, regardless of whether we voted for them or not, regardless of whether they won a seat by the skin of their teeth or were parachuted into a safe electorate or list position.

If you local electorate MP is National but you voted Labour, doesn't matter, if you need a local MP's help they are still an appropriate person to go to. The minister holding a relevant portfolio - doesn't (shouldn't) matter if they are not the party you would prefer to see in government. List MPs should be viewed as accessible to anyone, although I like the way some pick an electorate to support.

And they should be able to set aside any personal prejudices and assist you as an individual with individual circumstances, and without any obligation on your part towards their party in the future. (The precise assistance may vary depending on party policy and direction of course).

"Constituents" are not just the people who voted for you. They are everyone that you are responsible for, and responsible -to-. It may actually be more important to be accessible to those who -didn't- vote for you, lest their voices and concerns be under-weighted.
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
"Protest" political parties.
At the party I attended on Saturday it was suggested there should be a "Muppets" party, with Beeker for PM, and on Facebook there's the Stars for the next prime minister of NZ page.

I've never been a fan of "joke" parties, I would rather see a formal method for people to express a non-vote differentiating themselves from those who just couldn't be bothered. I have been known to spoil a ballot rather than not vote, on the basis that at least those still get counted as something. There was a relatively low turnout this election - but it's impossible to differentiate the truly unengaged from the conscientious non-voters from those who didn't vote because "their party was doomed" from those who didn't vote because "their party was going to win anyway".

There is room for a party with the stated aims of
- being a marker for those who can't find something to vote for in the the other parties or who are loyal to a particular party but just can't bring themselves to vote for them this time around
- attempt to make some sense of why thinking people chose not to vote by polling it's members (encourage discourse)
- note: non-exclusive membership - I don't know if the other parties make their membership exclusive or not but in the age of MMP it makes little sense to do so

If it somehow manages to get above the threshold:
- abstain on matters of confidence/supply, abstain / conscience vote (/poll members for a majority?) on other matters
-- agreeing that stable government is good - not there to oppose government but to be a representation of those who didn't like any of the options
-- (I think any matter can by procedure be turned into a confidence and supply matter, so fine tuning needed)

- draft and introduce a members bill to obsolete the party by having some form of "Do not wish to state a preference" option on ballots. This wouldn't be a no-confidence option in the manner that an electorate candidate would have to beat it, or that would potentially leave empty seats in parliament from the party vote - such ballots would be discounted from those calculations while still enabling disaffected voters to "have their say" via the ballot box.

While I have a number of friends who have indicated hey would support such a party if I started one, I don't presently want to be the sole driving force behind the project. There is enough on my plate right now. I would contribute time/resources/ideas if others were prepared to take on the bulk of the of the heavy lifting though ;)
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
Winston Peters / New Zealand First
I pointed out in my previous post why this is not the miraculous resurrection it's claimed to be. The ACT/NZ First dichotomy of the 2008 election dramatically demonstrated how our MMP cap still needs moved down towards better proportional representation.

As with any democratic system it's a given that there are going to be a bunch of people you don't like elected to government (they're called politicians - [ba-doom tish]). Importantly there are going to be views that you are strongly opposed to represented, and for the more thoughtful voter this exposure provides opportunity to reflect and refine their own position.

Winston Peters may be something of a populist relic, but in having a Government determined to legislate-and-be-damned in the best traditions of governments elected under FPP it may be valuable to have someone experienced in that style of opposition. Labour does still have people from that era - where were they the last 3 years you may ask - as I see it they tried to be an MMP-style opposition ie co-operate with government towards your goals - and lost out because the NZ zeitgeist is still that except for clear emergencies the Opposition. does. not. cooperate. with. Government. ever.

If Winston would only use his oratory skills to oppose with facts rather than with rhetoric and bullshit :( I do not look forward to hearing his sound-bites on the news for the next 3 years, but he has a legitimate right to be in Parliament.
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
Firstly, this isn't quite the claimed grand triumph for National. Their coalitioned majority has dropped from 64/122 seats to 61 or 62 (pending specials) / 121 seats. I think they'll probably do some sort of deal with the Maori party just in case of unfortunate by-elections in the next 3 years

Areas of particular interest to me:

Keep MMP - we won't know for the next couple of weeks but the fact that FPP as the leading alternative received fewer votes than the number of spoiled/blank ballots is probably an indication of the strength of feeling for MMP, confusion over how the questions worked notwithstanding.

Wigram - I was very surprised at the swing to National in Wigram (Woods/Labour 12,730 - Collins/National 11,197) - see my earlier post for what I expected to happen. So maybe -next- election this will be a more interesting electorate to be in.

Greens - pleased with the result. I don't think a 3rd party with 10.n% is enough for people to actually stop thinking in terms of National/Labour - even with Labour's collapse - but the increased access to parliamentary resources is going to give the Greens a huge boost in their ability to contribute. Unfortunately I think any extra visibility is going to go to ...

Winston First - aka one man 8 votes. While I am not pleased to see the old demagogue back his return isn't quite the miracle it's been made out - remember under a slightly lower cap NZ First would have had 4 seats in the last parliament. Clearly they've managed to hold on to that support during their years in the wilderness.

Speaking of the Cap - the big losers this year are the new Conservative party. While I have paid them little attention and what I do know doesn't lead me to like them, under a lower cap they could have been entitled to 3 seats.

I/S has a post graphically demonstrating the results compared with previous elections.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
I don't know where that meme came from, but the Electoral Commission estimates 73.83%. Which is still not ideal, but a lot better.

Voter turnout for the 2011 General Election is estimated to be 73.83% of those enrolled as at 5pm Friday 25 November. This compares with a final 79.46% turnout of those enrolled in 2008.

Later int the week I'll make a longer post on what I make of the Election results.
marsden_online: (elf)
I was going to make a post on Saturday stating that I had voted Green and encouraging everyone else to vote for whomever they pleased, because it would apparently be illegal for me to do so.

However I/S has memed me into posting my reasons. I've typed this out in Facebook threads several times recently so it should go here as well.

Party Vote - Greens. Not just because I generally agree with their policies but because NZ won't get better government until we as a country finally break loose from the idea of two-party, adversarial politics, and that is going to take a 3rd party gaining enough support to form a coalition of equals with either National or Labour. It won't happen this election or next, but the Greens are the best placed to get there eventually (and so it will probably be with Labour).

So in a way this is a tactical vote with a long-term outcome in mind.

Electorate Vote - I'm in Wigram, and I had hoped that with Anderton's retirement there would be an actual contest for the electorate vote this year rather than it reverting to a safe Labour seat. Alas Jim went and anointed the Labour candidate his preferred successor and I haven't seen anyone even trying to mount a challenge for the electorate vote.

I attended a "Political Roast" at the Uni a month or so ago and had some opportunity to assess the National and Green options there. I think National's Sam Collins has some promise especially if he stops quoting economic philosophers from early last century and updates his thinking based on the more recent evidence, but it was the Greens' Richard Wesley who really impressed and took the initiative to respond to questions several times when the other members of the panel just sat there looking uncomfortable. So I'll give him and the Greens my electorate vote as well.

Referendum - Voting to keep MMP of course. It is the most representative system by a country mile, even with the distortions in the way it is currently implemented. I can't see the promised review actually making it worse.
For the second question I'll vote for my next-best option, STV. There is an argument that people should tactically vote for FPP to make sure the run off is between MMP and the almost-certain-to-be-rejected FPP but I can't accept that on two levels

1. I can not honestly answer the referendum question - "If New Zealand were to change to another voting system, which voting system would you choose?" - with FPP.

2. The second question is ironically an FPP ballot. If the second referendum happens and as seems likely FPP is the other option then I want it to carry forward as little endorsement from this referendum as possible, and that is achieved by having it "win" with as small a % of the vote as possible (in the process highlighting the unfairness of FPP).

I'm pretty sure given my group of friends that everyone (NZ & diaspora) is planning to vote and has given who to vote for due thought. Some have even voted early (goodonya!). If you are waiting to vote on Saturday, please don't get lazy. The polling places open at 9 - get out and vote early. Arrange a voting buddy - flatmate or friend - it works just as well as it does for exercise or study. If you don't really see any of the parties talking about anything that piques your self interest right now then think about what effect their policies might have on individual family or friends that you care about, or on where you plan to be or what country you would like to live in in 3 or 6 or 9 years time.

I didn't really start to grok the bigger picture and really become interested in politics and government until I was in my 30s. I don't think I really wasted any votes in that time, but I certainly regret not giving them more thought.
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
Let's look at the good:

All the significant parties have new blood in parliment.
- Caveat - this will only really be useful to NZ as a whole this term if National rotates out some of it's geriatric (likely) front bench before the next election
- Given that the new National MP they interviewed on TV1 was a) very young and b) had an obvious 'handler' with her, I have to wonder if the new blood will actually have any influence.

The Greens continue to grow, if not as much as one would like.
- I'd even be happy to see Act grow from this position at the next election, as long as they take the support from National. The right needs a party to split it's vote up a bit in the same way as the left has Labour/Greens.
- I'm still not sure where the Maori party fits in this equation since they didn't end up holding the balance of power. They do get to be an independant voice this term - let's see what they do with that.

Ding Dong the Winston is Dead
- I'd love to see him leave NZ First to their own devices and see what they can do next election without him, because there are some good MPs in there.
- I'm not holding out much hope of him going quietly.

Helen Clark gets to leave leadership cleanly and hopefully without too much of a media circus around succession politics.

The middling to bad:

Anderton may finally have had it. I'm hoping for a contested Wigram next time.

If Dunne becomes speaker as has been suggested (would be a good move by Key, effectively gagging Peter and not having to sacrifice one of his own), how does that impact his ability to represent his electorate? I see Dunne has rejected speculation that he'll be speaker.

Will ya look at that distortion between NZFirst's share of the party vote & MPs vs Acts share. Something needs to be done about either the threshold or the elected-MP-drags-in-full-share rule - I'd prefer the latter because it means you can still elect a good local MP without getting their dehabiliting party leader as well.

National/Act get to do pretty much what they want for the next 3 years. Fortunately implementation takes longer than legislation so there is hopefully a limit to the 'damage' that can be done.
- I'm optimistic that they will make some changes for the better, but I disagree too much with some of their policies - like law & order.
- Let's see how Key holds up to the pledges he made in his speech about looking after those who can't look after themselves - and how they define those people.
- Here's hoping Act realises the need to continue to be a brand and makes some noise/fights National on some issues rather than playing lapdog. I realise this may only drag things further right, but it will be good for NZ politics.

Life will go on, and I don't see the difference between a blue & red government affecting me personally very much. So I can afford to wait and see. Again tossing up the idea of registering a No Confidence party for the next election though - that would take time, effort and like-minded individuals - someone remind me in 12 months time.

I seem to have over-catered somewhat for the drinkies here last night - Oh well. I guess there will be gamers during the week that I can enlist to help dispose of some of the leftover chips & soft-drink.
marsden_online: (Default)
Many people are away at work, not that this changes my workload much, and I've spent some time investigating what it takes to register a political party in New Zealand.

Reference: (1993 Electoral Act)

An acceptable name.

500 paid members eligible to vote in NZ elections, who have given permission for the details to be supplied to the electoral office, preferably more since they can discard some for reasons such as illegibility when reviewing your application.

Someone/s willing to do all the paperwork (although there are surprisingly few hoops to jump through) and be publicly listed.

A professional auditor.

Registering a party has no fee. Putting up candidates however does. $1000 deposit for a party list and $300 deposit per electorate candidate. These are forfeit if the party/candidate gets less than 0.5% of the relevant vote. Expensive for a comprehensive el cheapo grass-roots movement expecting to lose most of it :D. (1000 + 300*69 = $21700)
marsden_online: (Default)
For my non-kiwi readers, look here for technical details on how our electroral system works

Well, that was interesting.

I watched the TV3 coverage at [ profile] slothphil's place. By myself mostly, occasionally someone would wander out of the back room where they were playing Arkam Horror.

Wow. The country appears to be just a little polarised. It's going to be an ... interesting three years (if anyone manages to hold a government together that long).

There were a surprising number of electorates where the winning candidate was from National or Labour but the party vote went to the other party, so the country may not be as polarised as first glance would suggest. However, I don't see L & N coming to an amicable agreement for power sharing.

Clarkson didn't so much win Tauranga as Peters lost Tauraunga. Clarkson's "victory" speech (the first I've actually seen him) didn't inspire much confidence.

Dover Samuels lost it in more ways than one. Damn shame he gets in through the list. I was impressed by what I saw of Hawewira.

The Maori party is going to have internal problems. Turia doesn't want to work with Labour, but judging by the party votes her constituents do. They are also to this election what United Future was to the last election - the unexpected which highlights another aspect of MMP. They have caused an overhang by claiming more electorate seats than they would have been allocated by party vote and made things that much harder for either of the major parties to put together the numbers to govern.

Anderton is going to have a lonely last term. The most interesting thing about Wigram (where I am) however was that the N candidate beat out the L candidate (who came surprisingly close to toppling Anderton last election) for second place. Ohh, by 999 votes before specials! :D Party vote was solidly Labour though. And 102 people voted for DestinyNZ :(

Next election I expect a strong focus on Wigram by both the major parties [Sigh] At least it should be ... Interesting.

For the second election in a row the special votes could completely change the landscape. Although it won't be such a surprise this time :D

I think MMP as a system both won and lost out of this election. The TV3 panel pointed out several instances of electorates with multiple sitting candidates where voters appeared to be deliberately splitting their local and party votes with the intention of having more than one MP based in their electorate - I think this is good. And I've already mentioned the "bob each way" phenomenon. However, since National has clawed back all the ground it lost to the minor parties last election without really touching Labour we are left with two 40% parties, the Greens just breaking the 5% margin, and a bunch of small parties of Personality (one person dragging others into parliment with him). NZFirst falls into this category despite a higher party vote than the Greens and I'm inclined to lump the Maori party in there as well for the moment. This is not good for MMP which really needs a number of robust smaller parties. I'm disappointed by the showing from United Future, who after the last election frittered away the opportunity to really change the face of government in this country.

I'm still enamoured of the idea of forming a "No Confidence" party just to get that option on the voting form and see how much of the vote it would get. However I'd need candidates for all the seats to make it work. Anyone interested? We've (probably) got between 1 and 3 years before the next election to sort out the details :D

[vaguely curious]
Therese [unfortunate-last-name-which-I-didn't-catch-properly] who was on the TV3 panel is apparently someone from Political Science here at Canterbury. Anyone know any more about her? She was trying to raise some points about voter motivation which were far more interesting and in depth than the other panelists were willing to take up.

And she was the cuteist panelist by a long shot as well :p
[/vaguely curious]
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
On the face of it I have plenty to do at work at the moment, but when I look ... you guessed it ... waiting on other people again. Most are legitimately busy, it's not the usual suspects.

Lets see ... there was party on Saturday. It went much as expected. I accomplished my specific goal for the evening and was gone before midnight. Indications are that I didn't miss anything I would consider interesting, which makes a change. Or maybe not.

My headspace wasn't in the right place for Sunday's game, characterised by my constant searching through my notes and "quick" reference sheets. The players didn't seem particularly interested either, there was no real sense of direction or ... urgency. I admt to enjoying seeing the characters get beaten down a bit, and the knowledge that it only gets tougher.

The stump grinder is supposed to show for another go on Friday. The builder is supposed to show to take down the side fence on Monday and Tuesday, which presumably means the new one will be up by the end of next week.

Gaming last night also lacked direction. I threw out as many ideas as I could, but I seemed to be the only one trying. While dropping him home I corrected R1's assumption that since he's trying to play a wilderness character who is out of his element in the city that he couldn't legitimately come up with useful suggestions.

They arrested a 14 yr old kid for dropping the fatal brick on the motorway. 14 is a heck of an age to be throwing the rest of your life (and someone else's) life away. Then ... I was only 15 when I almost did an equivalent. The only difference is I struck in anger while he deliberately created a hazard. Is either more acceptable tho'?

Politics [spits]. I get nothing or next to nothing from either of the big bribes, so my strategic 3rd party vote doesn't change, and wouldn't even if I did.

Over on GE&R there is a thread titled "Oh shit! You mean, when I don't vote, other people make the decisions?". It's about the constitutional referendum in Iraq and how the Sunni's, who mostly boycotted the previous round are signing up to vote in droves because they've realised how they crippled their cause. Which is all well and good for a refendum, but for a general eloection one poster summed up my feelings reasonably well:

"With an electoral system in place instead of a true democracy, the result is the same. I can vote or I can not vote, and in 10 out of 10 Presidential elections my vote doesn't mean shit and it doesn't help my candidate one bit. We have the illusion of choice in America and nothing more. The party machines choose the candidates, not the American people. They choose which ones to back with cash and which ones to denigrate in the press. We are left with exactly what they want us to have. Our voting system is like a candy vending machine with 50 different choices, but only 2 of the choices work when you pull the knob. The rest of the items are sold out. Sold out by a system put in place to maintain power and eliminate most of what our government is supposed to represent; freedom, democracy, choice, representation. Debates limited to "the big two", campaign finance law that stifles third parties, party manipulation of candidates, the elctoral college. All of it maintains power for the powerful and presents us with the illusion of choice."

Substitute the appropriate NZ terms, except we do have it a bit better than the Americans, we do actually have smaller parties with a voice. But it's pretty much how I feel, other people make the decisions. I just want them to leave me alone.

Buckets of Dice this weekend. I have to keep reminding myself of this - my mind slides away from it like bubbles in oil. I don't know whether it's some form of fatigue or just trying to avoid an anticipated feeling of disappointment. Can't bear to flirt with hope any more.

though I get my kicks
it's slowly wasting me
don't try to be an artist
I try to be a man

dead stars, still burn

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