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New Zealand elections

#1 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 04:31

For the first time in 26 years I am allowed to vote in a parliamentary election - I tend to leave countries before I earn voting rights, but in New Zealand you just have to stay in the country for two years. You don't even have to be a permanent resident.

Unfortunately (well, maybe fortunately), the election is not particularly important. Both major parties have very similar policies. You may have heard about our PM who handled both the Christchurch shooting and the pandemic quite well, and who called the budget a "wellbeing budget". But under the cliches there's little difference between Labour and National.

Watching the party leader debate, I thought both of the two main party leaders seemed fairly competent and could be trusted to lead the country. Ardern disappointed a bit by avoiding some questions and often answer "climate change" even if the question was about something else. Collins seemed much better prepared, although I suppose one could excuse Ardern as being younger and having a busy job so having less time to prepare herself for the debate. Ardern appeared exhausted and her make-up seemed to be running over her face carried by sweat streams.

At the end of the debate I was seriously in doubt whom to vote for. But then, as they were on their way home form the studio, a journalist asked both of them who they thought had won the debate.

Collins (with her characteristic diabolic smile): I think I won.
Ardern (with her characteristic soft but serious voice, sounding mildly irritated) said something like: I don't believe that politics is a blood sport. I think the viewers got a good impression of both parties' policies and can make an informed choice.

I'll prefer the party whose leader doesn't believe in blood sports. Another problem with Collins is that she doesn't have her own party behind her. She has been criticised (by senior party members) for making up policies on a whim that haven't been discussed with the party but just suit her election campaign.

I ended up voting for the Green Party. Since they are close to the 5% threshold, it seems tactically better to vote for them than for a party that is safely above the threshold (Labour) or a party that is nowhere near (such as the Opportunity Party).
As much as I like you guys, you really need to know that this is all complete nonsense --- Pilowsky
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#2 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 04:41

Please vote for Ardern. I'll give you an Ace and two Kings.Posted Image
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek; N'écris jamais une lettre et n'en détruis jamais une.
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#3 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 08:01

View Posthelene_t, on 2020-October-11, 04:31, said:

I ended up voting for the Green Party. Since they are close to the 5% threshold, it seems tactically better to vote for them than for a party that is safely above the threshold (Labour) or a party that is nowhere near (such as the Opportunity Party).


The Greens will likely prop up Jacinda Ardern's government again. If that happens, you would have indirectly voted for Labour :) :)

Edit: Sorry I think I got that wrong. It's the NZ First who are currently propping up Ardern, right?

This post has been edited by shyams: 2020-October-11, 08:02

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#4 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 08:32

I would also vote for the non-bloodsport candidate.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#5 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 08:38

If a PM has been doing a good job, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to vote for her opponent.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#6 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 09:45

I envy you, living in a country where the political discussion seems to be sane. Perhaps we over here can someday return to that. Anyway, thanks for the good description of your thinking.
Ken
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#7 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 11:37

Off topic I know but what's it like living in New Zealand?
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#8 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 14:21

View Postshyams, on 2020-October-11, 08:01, said:

Edit: Sorry I think I got that wrong. It's the NZ First who are currently propping up Ardern, right?

Both Green and NZF, but NZF almost certainly won't do it anymore. So yes, the most effective way to keep Ardern in office is to vote Green, although true Labour supporters will vote Labour in the hope that Labour won't need to be propped up by anyone.
As much as I like you guys, you really need to know that this is all complete nonsense --- Pilowsky
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#9 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 14:49

View Posty66, on 2020-October-11, 11:37, said:

Off topic I know but what's it like living in New Zealand?

It's good for your blood pressure. Very little stress due to low population density and docile people.

That's assuming you have a reasonable and stable income. Social security is not quite European level, so many people struggle financially or must live in fear of losing their jobs.

The living standard is not quite at the level of Western Europe. Houses are extremely expensive and there's no such thing as cheap areas where you can get something affordable.

The biggest improvement over North-Western Europe is the weather. It's almost never too hot or too cold, or too wet or too dry. There's seasonal variation but at the same time the winter is not depressing. There's always some flowers and fruits that are in season and some birds that are singing.

I think it would be a good place to raise children. Plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, and the over-protection hype of other Western countries hasn't reached NZ yet. Children are still allowed to do their own things. And there's less ethnical tensions than elsewhere.

There's a general tendency to solve problems very fast. Banks, solicitors, health service, government etc. solve your problem immediately rather than putting you on a waiting list. Parts of it may be over-capacity but I think it's also the NZ mentality.

Working as a civil servant is better here than in the other countries were I have experienced it (Denmark, Netherlands, UK). Colleagues spend more time actually doing their job and less time playing silly political games.

There's obviously not the same economic and cultural diversity that you have in bigger countries and more densely populated regions. Not everything is available in the shops, and lots of things (websites, house building) are not done very professionally as there's a lack of competition.

If I had my friends and family here and if I had a driving license (NZ is quite useless without a car) I would probably like to stay here even if I could save more money in other places. As it is, we will probably be returning to Europe next year. Assuming that the Covid pandemic stops being such a barrier. It seems that outside NZ (and a few other places like Taiwan and Mauritius) life is quite depressing at the moment. We had a brief taste of this for a couple of months but since most of the things you can do in NZ don't involve big crowds anyway it wasn't much of an issue.
As much as I like you guys, you really need to know that this is all complete nonsense --- Pilowsky
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#10 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 14:55

View Postshyams, on 2020-October-11, 08:01, said:

The Greens will likely prop up Jacinda Ardern's government again. If that happens, you would have indirectly voted for Labour :) :)

Edit: Sorry I think I got that wrong. It's the NZ First who are currently propping up Ardern, right?

This is an incredibly British way of thinking about elections. A Labour government is not the same as a Labour-Green coalition, nor even a Labour-NZ First coalition. Yes, if you want conservative policies with a green polish you have to think very carefully about voting for a party that will likely form a coalition against your primary choice. But if, as Helene stated, the main parties are more or less equal to you and you want them to add some greener policies, voting Green is a clever choice.
(-: Zel :-)

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#11 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 15:13

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-October-11, 14:55, said:

This is an incredibly British way of thinking about elections. A Labour government is not the same as a Labour-Green coalition, nor even a Labour-NZ First coalition.

I may be missing something but I don't really see that it differs much from other countries that sometimes have coalition governments. The Cons-LibDem government was quite different from the Conservative government also.

As it happened, NZF didn't seem to have much influence on Labour's policies, other than that they prevented the capital gains tax. But I think that's just because NZF is not a very professional political party. A more professional centrist party, similar to the Britsh LibDem, would probably have had more influence. It's of course possible that they had some influence which I am just not aware of.
As much as I like you guys, you really need to know that this is all complete nonsense --- Pilowsky
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#12 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 16:36

I joined the Australian Labor (correct spelling) Party in 1972 just before Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister. I stood for parliament in South Australia in 1993 because my friend Mick Atkinson - who was the Attorney-General of South Australia ( and a former high school classmate) was desperate to find a candidate for the ultra-safe liberal state seat of Bragg. Held at the time by Graham Ingerson - think Margaret Thatcher but male in a small village.
My mother is famous for many reasons, one of which is that she convinced the then-teenage Julia Gillard to be a Lawyer and not a Teacher. Julia was in the class below me at school.
So, I know a little about politics.
I post-Doc'd in Auckland. NZ has a multi-member seat system (so does Tasmania - Germany also?) which is pretty good, but not perfect because it can lead to out-of-control squabbling coalitions pushing special interests that fail to focus on the big problems.
They also have seats reserved for Maori members. NZ is one of the few countries where the British did not conquer the locals - the treaty of Waitangi is in force and there is an uneasy truce.
Maori is an official language. It's available on Google translate.
By contrast, British democracy is an oxymoron. In Britain, Boris is the Prime Minister. First-past-the-post non-compulsory voting in rotten boroughs means that when a group of incompetent no-hopers finally take their seats in the Palace of Westminster,
They all start ranting at each other like a posturing pod of ping-pong players. To make matters worse, the Commons is so run down and disorganised that they can't all fit in when a vote is called.
There is nothing useful competent. or democratic about Britain.
It is the same corrupt kleptocracy that it always has been.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek; N'écris jamais une lettre et n'en détruis jamais une.
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#13 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 17:57

View Posthelene_t, on 2020-October-11, 15:13, said:

I may be missing something but I don't really see that it differs much from other countries that sometimes have coalition governments. The Cons-LibDem government was quite different from the Conservative government also.

This is true, but the British reaction is still generally that "a vote for the LibDems was a vote for Cameron". It reflects the general mistrust of, and unfamiliarity with, coalitions in the UK. I am quite sure that attitudes would change if a German-style proportional system (with 5% hurdle) was used there rather than FPTP.
(-: Zel :-)

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#14 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 18:02

View Postpilowsky, on 2020-October-11, 16:36, said:

First-past-the-post non-compulsory voting in rotten boroughs

Just so you know, rotten boroughs have not existed since 1832 and paying for votes (together with some other corrupt practices) became illegal in 1872. That in no way is meant to excuse the many other shortcomings of the FPTP system.
(-: Zel :-)

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#15 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 18:22

View Postkenberg, on 2020-October-11, 09:45, said:

I envy you, living in a country where the political discussion seems to be sane. Perhaps we over here can someday return to that. Anyway, thanks for the good description of your thinking.

Yes, politics in NZ is very sane, especially compared to the UK but also compared to continental Europe.

I am concerned how long it will last, though. We don't have much of a politically insane press, and this may have shielded us in the past. But NZ political Facebook discussions are as stupid as everywhere.
As much as I like you guys, you really need to know that this is all complete nonsense --- Pilowsky
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#16 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 18:34

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-October-11, 18:02, said:

Just so you know, rotten boroughs have not existed since 1832 and paying for votes (together with some other corrupt practices) became illegal in 1872. That in no way is meant to excuse the many other shortcomings of the FPTP system.


Really! yes, I did know that.
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#17 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-October-13, 17:14

Jacinda Ardern received a ballot from a 6-year old girl who was upset that she couldn't vote so she (the girl) decided to create her own ballot:
Posted Image
As much as I like you guys, you really need to know that this is all complete nonsense --- Pilowsky
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#18 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-October-15, 15:49

Yesterday was the last debate between the two leaders.

There was only one debate between the leaders from all parties. The NZ political culture still has remnants of the two-party system even if we have had MMP for a while. This is quite frustrating for the minor parties. Especially in a climate like the one we have now, where the two major parties have almost identical policies in order to appeal to centrist undecided voters. The only substantial difference uncovered during the debate was that Collins would commit to allowing seasonal vegetable-pickers from Polynesia to come despite the Covid travel restrictions.

MMP is a compromise between proportional representation and single-seat constituencies. 72 of the seats are filled as in UK/USA, while the remaining 48 are added to make the total allocation of seats to parties proportional, subject to a 5% threshold. Like in Germany. It's not a terrible system but the 5% threshold is draconian. If a National ally gets 5.01% while a Labour ally gets 4.99% (or v/v), this 0.02% difference will translate into a landslide and make the 4.99% feel disenfranchised.

At some point Ardern was asked why she didn't game the system like National does - by making a pact with the Greens in West Auckland where voters would be encouraged to give their party vote to Labour while giving their candidate vote to the Greens, effectively making left-winged voters count double. Ardern said that it isn't necessary since the Greens will reach the 5% threshold anyway. That was a missed opportunity. She could have said "unlike certain other parties we don't game the system". But maybe Labour has been gaming the system in the past?

The debate stood out by a lack of attacks. At some point, Ardern was asked if she would give in to the Greens' demand of a wealth tax if she were to depend on Green support. Ardern said "No!" and then Collins said "Oh, I am sure she will". Then Ardern got very angry: you just can't insinuate that your opponent won't keep their promises. Ardern said that ACT also has some outrageous policies like a minimum wage freeze, but of course she is not going to insinuate that Nationals will give in to that. This was the closest the debate came to a confrontation. When asked to comment on each others' policies, they often just said that they agreed. At the end of the debate they were asked what they had to say to each other, and Ardern said that she would like to thank Collins for her excellent and very supportive speech which Collins gave on the day of the Christchurch attack.
As much as I like you guys, you really need to know that this is all complete nonsense --- Pilowsky
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#19 User is offline   sfi 

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Posted 2020-October-15, 18:35

View Posthelene_t, on 2020-October-15, 15:49, said:

That was a missed opportunity. She could have said "unlike certain other parties we don't game the system". But maybe Labour has been gaming the system in the past?

I haven't followed NZ politics that closely over the years, but my impression is that Labour has historically been as happy to game the system as anyone else. It actually feels like a trap Ardern avoided rather than an opportunity.
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#20 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 04:35

According to BBC website, Jacinda Ardern is on track to win an outright majority, something which hasn't happened ever since the introduction of proportional representation voting rules.
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