Monday, June 06, 2005

Dont Waste Your Vote

How Your Vote Could Help A Party You Don’t like

We all know the basics. Every three years we’re asked to vote for people and parties that represent our views in Parliament. We’re given two votes – one for the electorate candidate who best promotes our area and one for the party that best represents our views. Under MMP the number of seats each party has in Parliament is decided by the Party Vote i.e. the proportion of votes cast for each party. However to have any representation at all a party must win either at least 5% of the total party vote or at least one electorate seat.

The key point is that if a party fails to clear either of these hurdles then its votes are effectively reallocated amongst the successful parties on a proportionate basis. What that really means is that if, for example, the party you give your Party Vote to does not clear either of those hurdles your vote might end up helping a party you had no intention of supporting! For that reason, whatever you do with your Electorate Vote, you need to think very carefully about what your Party Vote will actually accomplish.

You need to ask yourself if it is likely that your preferred party will win at least one electorate seat or gain at least 5% of the vote. If, in all probability, the answer is "no" then you should ask which party that, realistically, is likely to cross one of those hurdles best represents your views.

There are other considerations as well. What if the party which least represents your views looks likely to do well? Will they be able to govern alone or will they only be able to govern with a support party? If so which support party is most likely to pull them towards your position?
Think about what happened at the last election!
The result in 2002 was:
Party Seats
Labour 52
National 27
NZ First 13
Greens 9
United Future 8
Progressive Coalition 2
Total 120

That gave three possibilities:-

Centre-Right Gvt National 27 ACT 9 NZ First 13 United Future 8 Not able to form a government
Centre- Left Gvt Labour 52 Progressive 2 United Future 8 Did form a stable government
Left – Far Left Gvt Labour 52 Progressive 2 Green 9 Could have formed a government
(but who would have wanted it?)

What’s interesting is what happened to the votes cast for the unsuccessful parties. In 2002 the following parties did not get at least 5% or one electorate seat and so were ‘wasted votes’.

Christian Heritage 27,492 1.35%, Outdoor Recreation NZ* 25,985 1.28%,
Alliance 25,888 1.27%, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis 12,987 0.64%, Mana Maori Movement 4,980 0.25%, One NZ 1,782 0.09%, NMP 274 0.01%
TOTAL 99,388 4.90%
*Since affiliated with United Future. Their votes would have given United Future two more MPs!

Because these votes were given to parties who didn’t cross the theshold, the proportion of the vote given to the parties who did clear the threshold was increased with the following result:

Share of votes on Share after unsuccessful
Labour 41.26 43.28%, National 20.93 22.01%, NZ First 10.38 10.92%,
ACT 7.14 7.51%, Green 7.00 7.36%, United Future 6.69 7.03%, Progressive Coalition 1.70 1.79%

By comparing these figures it’s easy to see that the 99,388 excluded votes swelled the percentage of the votes going to the other parties.The real effect of these excluded votes is that they gave additional seats to the successful parties.
Three to Labour (Helen Duncan, Dave Hereora, Ashraf Chaudhary); two to National (Pansy Wong, Katherine Rich); one to NZ First (Brent Catchpole);
and one to the Greens (Mike Ward).

Interestingly, if United Future had gained another 502 votes we would have got another MP!

So why should I give my Party Vote to United Future?

Your Party Vote will count one way or another. And if you give it to a party that doesn’t make it into parliament it could easily end up helping a party you don’t like. Because Peter Dunne holds Ohariu-Belmont with one of the biggest majorities in Parliament (12,564) and has held his seat for 20 years, it is safe to assume that United Future will cross the theshold and be back in parliament to continue to work sensibly and constructively with whichever party is in government.

A wasted vote is a lost opportunity.
Vote for a party that is sure to be successful – United Future


Blogger david said...

Hello Bernard. So I presume you won't be voting for Labour? ha. Don't worry, neither will I.

However at this stage, I will be voting for Christian Heritage. A wasted vote some have said. I think it's possible to say it is wasted but only because NZ'ers still don't really use MMP too well. It's still pretty much a Labour/National focused country. If the people in NZ who call themselves Christians were to vote for a Christian Party, they would probably get more votes than United. eek. See my comment below with some figures.

I will ask you this, why should I vote for United rather than CHP? (please note that your son does frequent my house so if you don't give me an answer I like then I will have to poke him in the eye).

June 7, 2005 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger david said...

The primary assumption on which the “wasted vote” argument is built, is that the 5% threshold is unlikely to be achieved by a Christian party. However both the facts and history demonstrate otherwise.

The 5% threshold represents approx. 100,000 votes. This may seem a lot. However as the NZ Herald reported 1.5 years ago (Religion and the Vote – NZ Herald 29.11.04) there are 700,000 New Zealanders in church every Sunday. Of these the Herald estimated approx. 300,000 are “conservative” Christians of the sort who could form the viable support base for a Christian political party.

The Herald figures are borne out by the last census data on religious affiliation (refer ). The census numbers show that those identifying as Pentecostal and Baptist, alone make up 120,000 New Zealanders. There is a further 60,000 identifying as either born-again or other denominations that are generally at the “conservative” end of the spectrum (e.g. Reformed, Evangelical). Even if only half of these two groups supported a Christian party – that’s 90,000 votes.

Added to this are voters from the big three - Anglicans (580,000), Catholics (480,000) and Presbyterians (420,000). If only 5% of these supported CHNZ that would add another 70,000 votes giving a total of 160,000 – well in excess of the threshold.

Not only do the Herald and the census figures agree, the outcomes of the 2002 and 1996 elections tell the same story. In 2002 the two parties presenting as Christian/family values parties scored a combined vote of 8% (approx 160,000 votes). In 1996 the Christian Coalition polled 6.8% in the weeks leading up to the election before falling away to a total just under the threshold on the day. Both elections demonstrate there is more than 5% in the Christian/family values constituency.

June 7, 2005 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger david said...

bernard, your tall dark and handsome son said you were looking for my email.... well, you'll find me at holtslag at gmail dot com.... thanks.

June 16, 2005 at 4:05 PM  
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