Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: New Old Left?

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  • Matthew Poole,

    I/S, it's only a straw man if one doesn't understand how a fixed-size Parliament can end up with over-hang but not have the same effect if you give everyone who gets 0.00000001% of the party vote a seat. Which, as it happens, I didn't.
    You talk of the threshold as depriving people of a right, say abolition will fix that "problem", and now say that there's a system that, actually, will still negate the voting effect of a potentially large number of voters. Pardon me for not seeing how any kind of limit on minimum numbers of votes could possibly fix this notional interference with the right to exercise one's democratic voice.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Thank you Graeme, I had been trying to get my head around that for years.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7378 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    He doesn't. That's not what abolition of the threshold involves.

    Except that his wording suggested that he considers any limitation on votes leading to representation to be an imposition on one's democratic rights. Which lead me to the conclusion that he did indeed mean that a single vote would be enough to get you a seat. After all, anything less is "restricting people's rights" by negating votes because there are too few to matter.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Graeme: another problem with abolishing the electorate lifeboat: it makes overhangs worse. Much worse. In the present parliament, we have a 2-seat overhang, which I think we can all agree sucks. But simply abolishing the electorate lifeboat would mean that balooned to 8 seats: 1 for ACT, 1 for UF, 1 for Jim, and 5 for the Maori Party.

    And this problem applies even if the threshold is lowered to 1 or 2% - we end up with every electorate won by a party which doesn't make it being an overhang.

    Of course, one could always treat them the same as independents, and take it out of everyone else's representation so as to fix parliament at 120 seats. But this is more disproportionate than the current arrangements, and so not a positive move.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1642 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    if you give everyone who gets 0.00000001% of the party vote a seat...

    Well, that's kinda stupid. Even under the craziest system imaginable, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be having a Parliament where someone with 0.0002 votes gets a seat. Every voter would be personally represented by 4200 MPs.

    I believe the right I/S is talking about is the right to have your vote count equally with everyone else. If National gets 20,000 more votes, they get an extra seat. If Bill and Ben get 20,000 more votes they don't.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3004 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Graeme, this is where we encounter the problem of people not knowing how the calculations are done. I would say that I know more about our electoral system than the average voter, and I still couldn't have explained exactly how they work out how many seats get allocated to whom. So when someone says "abolish the threshold, it restricts democratic participation", the logical conclusion is that they mean a single vote will get you an MP. An erroneous conclusion, as it turns out, but not one that's divorced from defensible logic when confronted with the paraphrased statement above.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I believe the right I/S is talking about is the right to have your vote count equally with everyone else. If National gets 20,000 more votes, they get an extra seat. If Bill and Ben get 20,000 more votes they don't.

    Yes. But note that I care about party votes, and I'm quite willing to subordinate inter-electorate values of electorate votes to this.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1642 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Room ideologically, sure (that space is infinite; one can always play "lefter-than-thou"). But what matters isn't the ideological space, but how many people are in it. That's the core issue a political party has to grapple with. And based on recent voting trends, the answer is "not a lot". At the last election, the "left of Labour" vote was ~182,000 votes, 7.72% of the total - and a great chunk of that will be off-axis Greens. This is not a lot of space to support a new party. In order to be successful, they would have to move large numbers of people into it, which is a very big ask.

    Space could emerge post 2011 in the event of National being re-elected. National will continue moving slowly rightwards and Labour will follow suit (to a lesser degree) in an attempt to capture the centre. You wouldn't have to look very far to find some within the left who see this sort of "right turn" as unacceptable.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Of course, one could always treat them the same as independents, and take it out of everyone else's representation so as to fix parliament at 120 seats. But this is more disproportionate than the current arrangements, and so not a positive move.

    There are other options.

    But let's start with this matter: National got 44.93% of the party vote in 2008. Because of overhang, they got 58 seats. This is 47.54% of Parliament. Without overhang, they'd have got 47.5% of the seats. Greens: 6.72% of the vote, 7.38% of Parliament, but 6.67% of Parliament if no overhang. Wouldn't this better reflect their support among voters?

    But sensibly, we would implement the non-waiver of electorate seats by including these parties in the calculation, but not grant them any MPs beyond their electorate wins. I acknowledge the arguments on the other side (I often still make them!), but extra overhang isn't one of them.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3004 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    But sensibly, we would implement the non-waiver of electorate seats by including these parties in the calculation, but not grant them any MPs beyond their electorate wins.

    Thanks; that's at least a sensible way of doing it (though still IMHO the wrong solution).

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1642 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Whereas I would rather have the votes of voters in Epsom count for five times more than those of everyone else than have the votes of ACT voters count for nothing. Universal unfairness is still unfair. Procedural fairness isn't. Any solution which involves restricting people's rights is a backwards step, not a forward one.

    But I don't want Douglas in Parliament, and I think it's damn unfair that Epsom gets to put him there.

    The prospects for a party to the left of Labour look pretty bad at the moment; the old Alliance vote's gone back to Labour in large part (or moved on to the Greens), and so's a lot of the Alliance/New Labour organisation*.

    In the long run, I think there's room for a party to the left of Labour. I think the Greens are there at the moment, but if they move away from that then there's definite opportunity. Especially if the activist base of the Green party gets further alienated from the centre, which looks increasingly likely as the Green operation gets slicker and top-heavier.

    * Or should I say Labour's gone back to them?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1368 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Kearney,

    But I don't want Douglas in Parliament, and I think it's damn unfair that Epsom gets to put him there.

    Oh, come on. Let's face it, if Jim Anderton's Progs got 3.85%, and on the back of Wigram hauled into Parliament an MP you loved but I didn't, I doubt we'd be having this "conversation"!

    It's only unfair because you don't like him. That doesn't make the system unfair.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 68 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It's only unfair because you don't like him. That doesn't make the system unfair.

    You make a fair point.

    But ... Jim Anderton got two MPs off 1.7% of the vote in 2002, and his influence in the Labour government was commensurate with that. Act received markedly fewer votes than a party not represented in Parliament, New Zealand First, and appears to have enjoyed, and exploited, considerable influence.

    Also, the Sensible Sentencing Trust's jack-up candidate on the Act list turned out to be a complete arse.

    You can see how people might get annoyed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18893 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    No, if the people of Wigram got to choose if Phil Clearwater got in or not I would think that was also unfair.

    I wouldn't make a fuss about it no, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't remain unfair.

    Of course, the only reason you're defending the system is that one of your lot got in.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1368 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Giovanni

    And I'd be the first to cheer if we discovered an hitherto unknown reservoir of Marxists.

    Well, we do, sort of. Some ended up with the Greens and others ACT. I think Steven Franks was last seen as a National candidate in Wellington, so maybe he is on his way back in that direction.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1616 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    I only voted Greens for their social policies. If this dream flies, they've got my vote.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1147 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    And I'd be the first to cheer if we discovered an hitherto unknown reservoir of Marxists.

    Why? Because Stalin, the Shining Path, the Red Brigades, or the Great Leap Forward haven't put you off them yet?

    It's pretty hard to see any how anyone can call themselves a democrat and defend the 5% threshold.

    In the same way one can call oneself a fan of democracy and not be agog at the prospect of directly deciding every electoral issue by referendum. I believe Russell has written quite a lot about the catastrophic fuck-ups that's led to in Colorado and California. One can likewise look at the politics of Israel or Italy and wonder if no-thresholds might be one of those ideas that don't always work out in practise.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    Losing a hard close fight is one thing -- and on paper, Wellington Central was always going to be a seat we'd have to hustle hard to win. But being stabbed in the face by your own leader when you've been working your arse off is quite another.

    If it's any consolation it's the only time in a life of voting for (at least nominally) lefty parties and candidates I've felt motivated to vote for a Tory. Not that it did me much bloody good.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • anth,

    Hmm, maybe the threshold should be kept but dropped to 1% to save having to explain the Sainte Lague method.

    Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Stalin = a megalomaniac
    the Shining Path = Maoist
    the Red Brigades = Marxist/Leninist
    or the Great Leap Forward = Maoist

    Well one out of four aint bad.
    But anyway that's by the by anyway.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1221 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    I think it would be an interesting development if this party did happen. I have been thinking for a while about whether the Greens are helped or harmed by being "left of Labour", or at least being perceived as left of Labour.

    If we look at the Mt Albert byelection results (just as an example, because I know the area well and I followed is quite closely) in the richer parts of the suburbs (Kingsland etc.) Mr Norman did best while in the more "working class" areas (like Avondale) he did abysmally.

    Perhaps if one was to examine the socio-economic status of Green Party voters you might find them to be richer, more educated and so forth compared to a Labour voter or even a voter that might be tempted by this new party.

    Of course just because someone is well off doesn't meant they won't care about "left" issues, in fact they might very much do so. I just wonder whether the Green Party loses more potential "environmentally minded centrists" through the whole "watermelon" perception than it gains from hard-left voters who might be tempted by a Sue Bradford/Matt McCarten Party.

    I know a lot of people who are big fans of the Green Party's transport policies, their renewable energy policies and their climate change policies but are totally put off voting for them by the more radical "traditional left" parts of the party. I guess this is the difference between the Green Party's more 'hardcore' membership and where most of their votes probably sit.

    I suppose to summarise, as a "centre left" supporter I think there would be more chance of having a centre-left government if the Green Party started grabbing votes off National, rather than just off Labour. If the Greens shift to the centre, say they'll work with anyone as long as they get a number of key wins and this new party emerges "left of Labour" with its votes partly coming from the Greens (who hopefully pick up a whole pile more environmentally conscious centrists) and partly from Labour, things could be interesting.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 217 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Kearney,

    Of course, the only reason you're defending the system is that one of your lot got in.

    I think the system is askew. I'll leave it to better brains than mine to figure out how to fix it.

    I remember attending a party workshop once where "delegates" spoke on the demise of MMP, worried that it could end the party. I argued that the simple answer as I saw it was the party will survive on its people and policies, not on the political system. If it needs a system to survive then you don't have an existence because the system was vulnerable to change. But I was the odd one out I think.

    Also, the Sensible Sentencing Trust's jack-up candidate on the Act list turned out to be a complete arse.

    You can see how people might get annoyed.

    Yep, I can see how they might.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 68 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    I miss Rod Donald

    *sniff*

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 329 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    @webweaver i am right there with you

    listening to matt marcaten and the chris trotter on the radio about the hobbit stuff made me wish that somebody could be left and tied into 'it's a class warfare issue' type discussion

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 486 posts Report Reply

  • Carlos,

    Here in Denmark, they have a proportional system that is quite different to our own. But one element I find interesting is that in many of their elections (not the parliamentary for some reason) they allow parties to enter agreements to share surplus votes between them.

    Would it not be possible to allow a form of STV (just not voter driven), the reallocation happening according to a pre-election list provided by the party? Vote wastage would be dramatically reduced and the effect of a threshold minimised. A leftish voter that wanted to vote Greens when polling 4.9% will be reassured that if they don't make the threshold then their vote will be reallocated according to the Greens preference presumably Labour or the new McCartford party.

    CPH.DK • Since Mar 2009 • 27 posts Report Reply

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