Saturday, November 08, 2008

Live blogging: NZ election results

Okay, I decided that I should do a little live blogging on the NZ election results, too. The coverage is always really boring for the first few hours, though.

Anyway, here’s what I have:

6:53 PM: New Zealand polls close in less than ten minutes.

8:07 PM: Results starting to come in, mostly from right of centre places. No surprises yet—no excitement, either. May be 3 hours before we know.

8:11 PM: John Campbell on TV3 is positively goofy and almost unwatchable. TVNZ has stupid skits. Where's the real news coverage?

9:28 PM: Election night coverage is stupid so far. All “experts” (many of them party hacks) giving questionable spin with no real results to back it up. Maybe they shouldn’t start their TV coverage until after 10pm when there’s something to actually report.

10:26 PM: Peter Dunne has already spoken, and assumes a National-led Government. If so, it would mean we'd have to endure another three years of the insufferably pompous Dunne, since he already cast his lot with National, rejecting Labour, with whom it had been in Government.

A few minutes ago, Winston Peters conceded, graciously. He won't win Tauranga and his New Zealand First Party won't cross the 5% threshold, so they're gone altogether, removing a potential coalition partner for Labour.

I'm pretty sure that National will lead the next government, pulled sharply to the right by the resurgent neo-conservative ACT Party, which will incude the return to Parliament of the vile Roger Douglas. So the question now is only how strong their combined majority will be.

10:49 PM: There will definitely be a National-led Government, and Labour lost some key seats. The right is already pinning it on Labour's progressive position on some social issues, and it's possible that the National-led Government will repeal the "Anti-Smacking" law. However, the far right parties that wanted more (like banning all abortions and repealing the Civil Union Act) all lost heavily, so there won't be any change there.

I'll have more post-mortems next week, but that's it for tonight. The result is pretty clear, even if the specifics may change a bit.

But before I go, the second-biggest loser tonight was the New Zealand public, who had to endure terrible and often downright embarassing election news coverage. It's a real shame that it was streamed over the Internet because people overseas will think we're morons. Mind you, some will think that solely because of the election result, but that's another matter entirely.


Ann and Michael said...

Michael has tried to explain this to me 42 times tonight but he's got me totally confused- is the number of seats available to the party vote pile a set number? Are there always so many electorate/district seats and another pile of free-floating seats (but a set number) for the party votes? If so, how many of each??

Arthur Schenck said...

Normally, Parliament has 120 seats, half of them Electorate Seats (similar to a US Congressional District or a Riding in other countries). These are elected in a First Past the Post system, where the candidate with the most votes wins.

The other seats are awarded proportionately, depending on Party Votes—that is, each party gets the number of seats in Parliament equal to its share of the Party Vote. However, to get any seats at all, a party must win an electorate or win at least 5% of the Party Vote.

If a Party wins an electorate, all its party votes count, even if it's less than 5%. So, ACT, for example, won Epsom, so their 3.5% of the Party vote will entitle them to four seats in a 120 member Parliament.

However, when a Party wins one or more electorates, and that number greatly exceeds their share of seats, Parliament has an "Overhang", meaning the size of Parliament increases. Right now, the Maori Party is set to win 5 seats, but only 2.5% of the Party Vote, which would entitle them to only 4 seats. So, the size of Parliament goes up to keep the proportions correct.

So, the new Parliament will be about 122 seats, which means that ACT may end up with 5 seats.

Does any of this help?

Ann and Michael said...

Yes- very much so, thanks. Michael didn't say that the proportionate seat count can expand and I kept getting caught by the numbers- if X party had a huge number of electorate seats but Y party had a huge proportion of the party seats, how would that work? You answered it- I kept thinking X party would be forced by the numbers to cede some electorate seats.

Agreed on the coverage- didn't you see any of the attempted coverage of the US election on TV1 Wednesday? It was very bad- mainly just Paul Henry and some other guys I'd never seen before talking to each other with a definite bias to McSame. They'd cut to CNN now and then. I didn't watch long, though, but did cut back now and then and it never seemed to improve.

One thing I did notice about the NZ election was that there did seem to be MUCH less discussion of issues. Labour seemed to think we should just know where they stand, and National just kept rattling on about change. Admit though that I only saw the last debate. If I hadn't seen that I'd not have known anything at all really, from the lack of other coverage or real conversation between the candidates.

Do you think that if Helen Clark had stepped aside for Phil Goff some months ago the urge for change would have been satisfied and the result might have been different? It was such a lame reason for the vote- but OTOH she does seem to have become a bit stale in office so with the lack of real discussion of issues I can see why underinformed voters chose as they did.

Am very surprised by all this though- from the high level of understanding and debate of issues at our community meetings, I would have thought the general level of discussion in the national elections would have been much higher than it was.

Arthur Schenck said...

All very good points, Ann, and I'll talk about them in great detail later on. But in general, you're right about the lack of issues focus, which is for a lot of reasons. National played down issues, focusing on their mantra of "change", and the media was focusing on how badly Labour would lose. Lost in all that was any substantive discussion of issues, unlike 2005 where the far right agenda of National and its then-leader Don Brash were on full display.

Ann and Michael said...

That would have been just before I got here but good to know that non-discussion of the issues is not necessarily the norm. Michael agrees with you that National scuttled any substantive discussions so that no one knew what they planned. He also told me that the mixed "
"entertainment"/election results thing we saw last night wasn't unusual - they've been doing that awhile.

I think they should just hold off on the results until later when there's something to show- carry on with regular programming in the early evening with just a scroll at the bottom of the screen at most.