The Dim-Post

October 6, 2014

Thoughts on the special votes and the Greens

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:16 am
  • The special votes really are special, in the sense that there were an awful lot of them (~13% of the total vote) and they’re weighted quite differently to the rest. So people (like me) who called Key’s victory two weeks ago ‘historic’ on the grounds that he defied gravity and increased his percentage of the vote going into his third term and won an outright majority now look rather silly given that he did not actually do either of those things.
  • Likewise, those people talking about how the Greens were ‘gutted’ or that their loss was as great as Labour’s in proportional terms also look pretty silly given that the Greens haven’t actually lost a seat and their final result is 0.36% lower than their best result ever.
  • They did under-perform relative to their expectations – they wanted 15% of the vote – and the polls which had them at around 12.5%.
  • More ominously, they failed to grow their vote even though Labour declined. If they can’t take votes off Labour during their worst election ever, how will the Green Party grow as a party?
  • From the far left? The missing million mostly young voters who yearn for an alternative to the neo-liberal consensus?
  • Probably not. I suspect the failure of Mana and then Internet/Mana to attract meaningful support – even though in the last election they had resources that the Greens could only dream about – signals the death of the activist far-left in mainstream New Zealand politics. Left-wing political parties can’t keep chasing after people who don’t vote at the expense of the support of people who do, and they can’t keep listening to online activists who claim to speak for the poor, disenfranchised non-voters etc, but whose values and rhetoric don’t actually attract any votes from those demographics.
  • Can the Greens win votes from the center right? Abandon their left-wing social policies, focus on their environmental policies and re-position themselves as a potential coalition partner for National?
  • Again, probably not. The Greens are an environmental party but they’re also a left-wing party. I know, I know – Twitter is flooded with know-it-alls braying that the Greens are neo-liberal middle-class sell-outs, but the actual Green Party as it exists in the real world is a left-wing party with left-wing policies. Even if the leaders could convince the caucus, party officials and members into supporting a National government, it is impossible to imagine this National government agreeing to the kind of environmental concessions the Greens would want. Are Joyce, Brownlee and Bridges ever going to sign off on, say, a moratorium on deep sea drilling and mining in national parks, cleaning up the rivers, scrapping the roads of national significance and investing in public transport, and a carbon tax? That would probably be the bare minimum of the Greens demands, and National would never agree to it. There’s no common ground there the way there is with, say, Winston Peters, whose coalition demands would have consisted of knighthoods and portfolios and other concessions that would have been (mostly) painless for the National Party.
  • I suspect that new Green votes will come from (a) the center left. Labour moved to the left under Cunliffe, both rhetorically and in policy terms (again, I know, the conventional wisdom of twitter is that Labour are far-right neo–liberal whatevers, but this was probably the most left-wing policy platform Labour ran on since the 1970s). I think we’ll see a more conservative Labour after the leadership contest and there will be opportunities for the Green Party there. I also think they can (b) pick up ‘center voters’ who care about environmental issues but didn’t vote Green in 2014 because they were afraid a left-wing vote was a vote for a Cunliffe/ABC/Green/Peters/Harawira/Harre/Dotcom fiasco. And (c) I think the Maori electorates are a huge opportunity for the Green Party. They saw percentage increases in most of those electorates (pre specials) and, intriguingly Jack McDonald and Marama Davidson both got significantly higher electorate votes than the Greens received party votes even though they campaigned as list candidates. I hope they can recruit high quality candidates for the three Maori electorates that didn’t have Green candidates and that there’s a resignation in the caucus before 2017, so that Davidson can come in on the list and campaign as an MP in those Maori seats.

91 Comments »

  1. intriguingly Jack McDonald and Marama Davidson both got significantly higher electorate votes than the Greens received party votes even though they campaigned as list candidates.

    It’s not uncommon for candidates to do well relative to party votes in electorate races with low numbers of candidates (which tends to include the Māori seats), which may simply be a function of the greater number of options there are for the party vote in those seats.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — October 6, 2014 @ 9:35 am

  2. Thoughts on the leadership, Danyl? Time for a change?

    Comment by David — October 6, 2014 @ 9:35 am

  3. Discussion of positioning and framing aside, I think your point about quality candidates for the Greens is key. I think it also applies to not just the Maori seats. Many of the places they currently perform poorly are places they’ve not had much presence and standing someone credible must be part of that. Obviously they’re not going to win but having a candidate in these areas campaigning for votes send a signal they give a care about them. I realise Jack and Marama got fewer party than personal votes, but you imagine they’d have got even fewer had they not stood. I realise finding the candidates is easier said than done and there may be issues with spreading resource too thin, but all the talk about policy focus, left/right axis and national strategy is missing a big piece in the puzzle.

    Comment by Barnard — October 6, 2014 @ 10:00 am

  4. I think you will find National will look to move in on much of the Green Party’s ground and make them increasingly irrelevant. National need to do more for their women voters, many of whom have voted Green.

    Comment by narena — October 6, 2014 @ 10:10 am

  5. “Left-wing political parties can’t keep chasing after people who don’t vote at the expense of the support of people who do, and they can’t keep listening to online activists who claim to speak for the poor, disenfranchised non-voters etc, but whose values and rhetoric don’t actually attract any votes from those demographics.”

    Never actually met any far left activists Danyl? One of their key identifying features is believing intelligently and obsessively in stupid propositions.

    Comment by Tinakori — October 6, 2014 @ 10:10 am

  6. Labour’s 2014 policy platform was actually slightly to the right of 2011. Essentially the same big ticket policies, but with a lower top tax rate and a near universal child payment rather than giving WFF to beneficiaries.

    Comment by James D — October 6, 2014 @ 10:15 am

  7. “the Maori electorates are a huge opportunity for the Green Party”
    I think NZ First will in time take over the Maori vote

    Comment by narena — October 6, 2014 @ 10:41 am

  8. Is there something uniquely special about Wellington that they got such high votes there, or is there something that can be exported elsewhere? Is it just candidates? Interesting to look at a map of the votes across electorates: http://goo.gl/kr1p0w
    (More maps of other parties here: http://goo.gl/GMKnR4 )

    Comment by suǝbbıɹɟ pıʌɐp (@dakvid) — October 6, 2014 @ 10:44 am

  9. I guess a key lesson for the left is that you can no longer expect to get radical change (i.e. the overthrow of the neo-liberal economic elites) through honestly offering left wing policies and appealing to “the missing million”. The age of attempting to defend the welfare state by trying to roll back the reforms of the 1980-90s through conventional politics is over.

    Taking what you say Danyl to it’s logical end point then, could you not legitimately conclude that all attempts to destroy neo-liberalism at the ballot box have now definitively failed, and that this failure represents a failure of democracy itself, so perhaps it is now time to moderate our system of rule by market absolutism with a little assassination?

    But plotting to blow up the next National party conference is not in keeping with the culture of our bovnign* country. Perhaps a more realistic way forward for the left is to accept that this fight is a 15-20 year project, and set up a “Sunday Club” (or socialist tendency, if you prefer) of like minded Labour activists committed to quietly laying the groundwork to get rid of neo-liberalism through colonising the Labour party with vanguard activists and approved MPs with the aim of doing a reverse Rogernomics surprise blitzkrieg after winning an election on vague promises.

    *A word I made up. A combination of bovine and benign.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 6, 2014 @ 10:49 am

  10. Sanc, you old Fifth Columnist, you!

    Comment by Gregor W — October 6, 2014 @ 11:02 am

  11. For the record I am discouraging Sanc from killing anyone, or blowing anything up.

    Comment by danylmc — October 6, 2014 @ 11:04 am

  12. I would never blow anything up! Unless it is a tree stump. Hate those.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 6, 2014 @ 11:13 am

  13. “…Sanc, you old Fifth Columnist, you..!

    Bolshevism worked for the new right, time to reclaim our play book!

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 6, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  14. Comment by me, Sept 18:

    “The election result will be declared today and tomorrow. (National win)

    The election result will be declared again at around 8 to 9 pm on Saturday. (National huge win)

    The election result will be declared again around midnight on Saturday. (National narrow win)

    The real election result will be declared 2 weeks later, after the votes have been counted.

    Only the last one will be real, but by then the “truthyish” election result will have taken hold.”

    And today – yes, it was all too predictable. And if you want another prediction, expect to see moves to make special votes more “efficient” i.e. excluding the wrong ones. They always go against National, and National know this, even if the media dimwits don’t. (Such a move by National would be outrageous, but like OIAs, GCSB, public servants’ privacy and the like, any concerns will be casually Hoskinged, and dismissed as a beltway issue).

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — October 6, 2014 @ 11:19 am

  15. I think the Greens have reached, for the time being at least, a plateau in their support. the 10-12% they attract right now is about the limit of the number of voters that will vote for a left-liberal environmental party. Half of that (6%) is their core vote, the rest is soft ex-Labour. Until they get a chance at government (which may convince a wider tranche of voters they can be trusted) they are going to hover in the 6-12% range. Attempting any sort of rapproachment with National would be suicidal for the Greens. All their soft ex-Labour voters would vanish overnight, and the remaining 6% would immediately revolt.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 6, 2014 @ 11:42 am

  16. I’m not going to be all smug and say that I was saying to all my friends (although nowhere online that you can check) that National weren’t making their support deals because they felt a duty of care to or wanted to show respect to Act, United Peter and MP. They did it because they knew their historic majority was at risk after special votes were counted. If they had three more seats they would have politely told them all to piss off.

    I’m just going to state my unverifiable claim to have got something right here. Un-smugly.

    Good media management, National. Either that or poor journalism, journalists. Probably a bit of both. Tell journalists you really care about the quartet of clowns and incompetents you need to push you over the line, while hiding that you recognise that the university term is in right now and most students will be casting special votes for their own electorate from the places they study (this is the assessment period for most of them, don’t you know). And of course, that student vote is the Green demographic, no matter how noisy the Young Nats from Sirius B get on campus.

    Comment by Chris (@slackjawdtownie) — October 6, 2014 @ 11:53 am

  17. all attempts to destroy neo-liberalism at the ballot box have now definitively failed, and that this failure represents a failure of democracy itself, so perhaps it is now time to moderate our system of rule by market absolutism with a little assassination

    Translation: Not enough people believe the things I think they should believe. Therefore, they are wrong and must be stopped from voting. With violence.

    Comment by Phil — October 6, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

  18. Please don’t destroy neoliberalism by killing people. Do you know how much my new Reebok runners were? $120. RRP $229. Show me how anarcho-syndicalism can get me that kind of savings on high quality products and I’ll join you. Until then, I’m decisively for all kinds of exploitation based on perceived savings, as long as it’s not me being exploited.

    Well, I am being exploited in all kinds of ways, but I think it’s like a hierarchy of exploitation. If I wasn’t being exploited by other people then I wouldn’t need to exploit 13 years old in developing countries to make my sportswear. So blame someone else.

    Comment by Chris (@slackjawdtownie) — October 6, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

  19. “I think the Greens have reached, for the time being at least, a plateau in their support. the 10-12% they attract right now is about the limit of the number of voters that will vote for a left-liberal environmental party.”

    I guess time will tell, but I think you’re probably about right on this. I also get sceptical of all this talk, often from outside the Green Party, about how it should be changing its policies and tactics to attract more votes. All of that assumes that the GP must be interested in power instead of change, and compromising whatever values they have to get it, which seems like a very National/Labour way of thinking. It’s really up to members to decide which values they want to compromise, if any, in exchange for more support and a risk of less.

    I’m sure the GP would appreciate direct influence on policy, but if change is the primary goal then its mere presence and the demonstration that there are a subtantial number of voters out there who actually want Green-style priorities has already effected quite a lot of change in how other parties react and design their own policies, even from across the floor, and even if they won’t admit it.

    That’s not such a bad outcome, despite not ever having been in government.

    Comment by izogi — October 6, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

  20. I am not sure about the numbers Sanctuary – I think the Greens have now got a core vote of 10% and the “soft” vote was that 3-4% that disappeared in the last week of the election. Don’t forget the absolute numbers for the Greens went up about 10,000 from 2011 – but the increased turnout reduced the percentage.

    My suspicion is that the Moment of Truth panicked the electorate and a big chunk of voters collectively shifted rightwards – frightened people have a tendency to vote more conservatively – but we will need to wait and see when the post election surveys come out.

    Comment by Paddy in Kiwiland — October 6, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

  21. Phil & Sanc: My inner Machiavellian thinks there’s a better idea, and it doesn’t have to involve killing people. Print enough counterfeit dosh to make inflation unmanageable, and crash the NZD and housing market.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — October 6, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

  22. “the Maori electorates are a huge opportunity for the Green Party”
    I think NZ First will in time take over the Maori vote

    Well no, NZ First didnt stand a candidate in any Maori seat as it was now against their policy on ‘separatism’
    This is how they could support Kelvin Davis, no candidate of their own to backstab

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — October 6, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

  23. “… it doesn’t have to involve killing people. Print enough counterfeit dosh to make inflation unmanageable…”

    Yeah, but you only go to prison for killing people! Tank the banks and the capitalist class will make sure you swing in the breeze like some 18th century highwayman.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 6, 2014 @ 1:20 pm

  24. @Paddy in Kiwiland – I guess there does come a stage after 2-3 electoral cycles where you no are longer “switching your vote” to the Greens from Labour and you just become a Green voter. I don’t know if that has happened yet though.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 6, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

  25. Interesting comment about rightward shift in the last week, Paddy.

    Did we see the Kurt Waldheim syndrome at work here? The former UN Secretary-General ran for president of Austria in 1986. During the campaign he was exposed as a probable war criminal. He won emphatically.

    Did some of our voters respond in the same way to the exposure of Key’s lies and deceit? Were we unwilling to have our cosy narrative challenged?

    It seems something hobbled the Greens when 12% upwards looked likely.

    Comment by Steve — October 6, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

  26. “I’m not going to be all smug and say that I was saying to all my friends (although nowhere online that you can check) that National weren’t making their support deals because they felt a duty of care to or wanted to show respect to Act, United Peter and MP. They did it because they knew their historic majority was at risk after special votes were counted. If they had three more seats they would have politely told them all to piss off.”

    Key is playing the long-game. He also said he would negotiate with NZ First on a case by case basis. Why? Because next time National, if needs all the help it can get, will have prepared the way this term.

    Comment by MeToo — October 6, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  27. Sanc: “Tank the banks and the capitalist class will make sure you swing in the breeze like some 18th century highwayman.”

    Or thrown in a lake with concrete boots? Or droned?

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — October 6, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

  28. Danyl at point 6:

    Left-wing political parties can’t keep chasing after people who don’t vote at the expense of the support of people who do, and they can’t keep listening to online activists who claim to speak for the poor, disenfranchised non-voters etc, but whose values and rhetoric don’t actually attract any votes from those demographics.

    Danyl at point 9:

    I think the Maori electorates are a huge opportunity for the Green Party. They saw percentage increases in most of those electorates (pre specials) and, intriguingly Jack McDonald and Marama Davidson both got significantly higher electorate votes than the Greens received party votes even though they campaigned as list candidates.

    Even if the Greens were to double the party vote that they receive in the Maori electorates, this would amount to … 16,662 extra votes, or an extra 0.7% on their 2014 result. Unless, of course, you think that the Greens could turn out all those Maori voters who presently aren’t voting?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — October 6, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

  29. @MeToo: National also knows that minor parties in government lose vote and minor parties outside government gain it. Plus, everyone’s ignoring the speaker where 61/121 wasn’t enough in the first place, they always needed support.

    As for the Greens, the only time they’ve lost vote was 2005, where Peters and Dunne declared they’d go with the bigger of Labour or National and a bunch of Greens voted Labour just to make sure (which was likely the whole point of that move from those two). Now it seems they’re sufficiently established that Labour can’t pretend to form a government without them, so there’s no incentive for anyone to cross to Labour (plus, nearly missed in 2005, won’t do that again).

    Russel Norman says their vote fell when National got their “Dotcom’s party” meme established and went with the old five-heads-bad, four-heads-good thing again. It does seem there’s a fairly large anti-foreigner (not counting Australians) vote in everyone’s party and huge numbers of NZers see Dotcom as being just as guilty as Zaoui (which is to say, assumed so until proven innocent in a court of law).

    Comment by tussock — October 6, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

  30. Speaker has a vote like anyone else these days.

    Comment by Keir — October 6, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

  31. It seems something hobbled the Greens when 12% upwards looked likely.

    Comment by Steve

    Yeah, it’s called a 3% margin of error.

    Comment by Chris (@slackjawdtownie) — October 6, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

  32. @Andrew Geddis, the turnout in the Māori seats isn’t too bad. It’s small in absolute terms because electorates are apportioned by the entire population (including under-18’s) but unlike Clutha-Southland where almost everyone is over 18 (44k enrolled, 34k voted, 2.6k Green), in Te Tai Tonga it’s much less (33k enrolled, 20k voted, 3.4k Green, about what you’d expect with the median age 10 years younger).

    @#8: Nice maps. If the Greens have anywhere to pick up vote, it’s dairy country. Better messaging on how river pollution is costing the farmers money they could spend on other things. Support the things they get right, find local reps that work in the industry (there are organic dairy farms, after all) to talk at meetings.

    Comment by tussock — October 6, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

  33. Yeah, it’s called a 3% margin of error.

    That applies at the 50% mark. For a predicted outcome of 12%, the margin of error is much, much lower.

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 6, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

  34. @tussock,

    Turnout in the Maori electorates is still about 15% below the general electorates … but anyway, my point remains. In a national context, there are f*ck all votes in the Maori electorates and a strategy that aggressively seeks to win these comes at a risk of further ghettoising the Green vote: “look … those crazy lefties are now pandering to the Maoris!”

    Or, to put it more prosaically, there is a reason why Metiria Turei switched from standing in Te Tai Tonga to Dunedin North!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — October 6, 2014 @ 4:03 pm

  35. “If the Greens have anywhere to pick up vote, it’s dairy country. Better messaging on how river pollution is costing the farmers money they could spend on other things.”

    From those farmers I know I’ve gained an impression that it’d be a very difficult part of society for the Green Party to get through to. Those I know tend to be solid National voters, apparently based on ideaology and history more than anything else, even if they hate all politicians and aren’t too fond of the National Party itself. I don’t have much of a foot in the door with farmers generally, though. Can anyone with a clear insight comment?

    Actually, based on how sick-of-the-National party I’ve seen a few farmers being, I could imagine a Farmers’ Party (or similar) having a reasonable chance in pulling lots of votes of farmers, their families, and many others in related rural industries, even if it had parallel policies to the Green Party.

    Comment by izogi — October 6, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  36. It is a myth vigorously spread by Federated Farmers that dairy farms are largely family owned and that farmers are wheat stalk chewing children of the soil. New Zealand is a heavily industrialised country – only our factories are fields full of intesnively and scientifically farmed cows which are owned by corporate entities. Most dairy farms are run by managers, not their owners. Family owned farms tend to be small, residual blocks maintained for lifestyle purposes as much as anything after the farmer flogged off most his land to property developers/corporate farmers for a fortune.

    If you consider dairy farms to be factories run by ruthless corporate businesses then seeking to externalise their costs of production by obstructing attempts to get them to paying for their massive pollution of our waterways makes more sense.

    We need to get over the fantasy that dairy farm owners are especially concerned about the environment. The remaining family-owned farms might be but most managers literally couldn’t give a shit about our rivers if doing so affected their bottom line.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 6, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

  37. That applies at the 50% mark. For a predicted outcome of 12%, the margin of error is much, much lower.

    Comment by Flashing Light

    Oh, I bow down to this, smug in the knowledge that the final polls predicted National’s vote better than they did the parties at the outliers, and hailing a victory for statistical noise at very low percentages. When it comes to being practical about the outcomes, it’s much much better to look at what happened in relation to what was predicted to happen than given margins for error in polls with unknown confidence intervals.

    However, for your edification, the MoE would be around 1% lower for the Greens, although I haven’t done the exact calculation for every poll. The last poll, Stuff-IPSOS, which was 3.1% MoE at a 95% confidence interval, is typical, and so the 12% predicted for the Greens compared to the actual result would have been within that margin.

    Headline: Greens bitchslapped by margin of error calculations.

    Comment by Chris (@slackjawdtownie) — October 6, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

  38. “this was probably the most left-wing policy platform Labour ran on since the 1970s”

    I keep hearing this, mostly from commentators on the right, which makes me sceptical. It sounds like boilerplate conservative electoral tactics, painting one’s opponents as extremist leftists. So I’m a bit surprised to see it coming from a left wing commentator. Still, I’m ready to learn – what was it that made Labour’s campaign in 2011 to the left of, say, its campaigns in 1999 or 1981? What policies were proposed that Clark or Rowling would have reeled away from as too extremist?

    As for the far-left being permanently dead, I’m sceptical, although I know a lot of people would really like that to be true. Frankly, it’s questionable whether IMP even was a left wing party – they got lumped in there, but I think that was chiefly because they were opposed to the incumbent government more than any deep conviction in anti-capitalist or alter-capitalist ideology.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 6, 2014 @ 5:16 pm

  39. @Chris,

    You can see a “poll of polls” with relevant MoE for the Greens here: http://imgh.us/nzpollsresult.svg. It pointed to a 12.5% result +/- 0.7%.

    So, it wasn’t just that the Greens got cocky and forgot about statistics. It’s that the polls didn’t forecast their reality.

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 6, 2014 @ 5:35 pm

  40. @Chris,

    There’s a “poll of polls” here: http://imgh.us/nzpollsresult.svg. As you’ll see, it predicted a vote for the Greens of 12.5%, with a MoE of +/- 0.7%.

    So the Greens didn’t just forget about statistics. The polls were instead pointing to an outcome different from what turned out.

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 6, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

  41. As for the far-left being permanently dead, I’m sceptical …

    No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn’it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 6, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

  42. @Flashing: Yes, very droll. In defense of my counter-analysis, though, it seems unbelievable to me that there will never be a need for politics that’s to the left of Labour and that doesn’t centre environmental (as opposed to economic) concerns. Maybe not for a few electoral cycles, but literally never? Seems unlikely, and I’m further sceptical of Danyl’s analysis because what he’s “predicting” seems to coincide with what he’d like to see happen.

    To put it another way, if the left-of-Labour demographic was in a position where IMP’s failure could kill it, it was effectively already dead.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 6, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

  43. In defense of my counter-analysis, though, it seems unbelievable to me that there will never be a need for politics that’s to the left of Labour and that doesn’t centre environmental (as opposed to economic) concerns.

    In opposition to your counter-analysis, it spookily happens to be the mirror-image of the right’s claim that NZ really needs a party that centres on environmental (as opposed to economic) concerns. Poor Greens really can’t win, can they … too “lefty” to be a real environmentalist outfit, too “environmentalist” to be a real lefty outfit.

    But, that aside, Danyl’s point is less about where parties sit on some notional policy spectrum and whether there is “room for” or “a need for” something to Labour’s left, but instead is more about declining political efficacy. If the poor/young/etc just don’t vote, then what’s the point of trying to offer them something to vote for?

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 6, 2014 @ 6:34 pm

  44. @Flashing Light: I don’t think that’s the case at all – the Greens are always going to be de facto on the left even if they don’t regard themselves that way. You can’t give maximal freedom of action to businesses while also doing everything you can to protect the environment, globally or locally. I think for the Greens to move towards the centre would be a bad idea – they would definitely lose votes on the left, and it’s highly uncertain they would pick up any votes on the right. I think an economically centrist Green party would probably be seen more positively by conservative voters, but they still wouldn’t vote for it.

    It’s more that if your primary focus is on anti-capitalism, I think the Greens are at best a poor fit. You’re right that non-voting may capture a lot of that ideology, but are we really going to assume that low turnout is a permanent, unchanging feature of the NZ political environment? Because I remember back in the 1990s we used to say the same thing (rather smugly) about high turnout.

    Really, if Danyl hadn’t presented his prediction in such absolutist terms, e.g. “death”, I wouldn’t be quibbling with it so much.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 6, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

  45. Dear old Sanct, calling for utu against the 5th estate if the Left won, now for bombing because they lost
    What I want to know has anybody seen him and Bomber in the same room?

    Comment by rayinnz — October 6, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

  46. Nah, Sanctuary has far more self awareness than Bradbury – admittedly a low threshold – and Martyn’s Uncle Chris Trotter

    Comment by Tinakori — October 6, 2014 @ 8:14 pm

  47. The missing million. The missing million 10 yrs ago was the missing 600,000. Look it up ladies. The missing million will be the missing 1.2 million in 2017.

    The greens (and sundry other retards National, NZ first & labour) didn’t get 10% they got 10% of 70%. What a failure. The specials. Oh dear me wank on.

    I didn’t vote and lots of other people I know didn’t vote. Just fuck off John Key you don’t have a mandate.

    You people are in an ever decreasing national labour greens nz first circle jerk. Wankers in plain language. Its 70% now it will be well below 60% in ten years time.

    Comment by Simon — October 6, 2014 @ 8:37 pm

  48. “I didn’t vote and lots of other people I know didn’t vote.”

    Why not?

    Comment by izogi — October 6, 2014 @ 9:03 pm

  49. Why not?

    Given that Simon uses ‘ladies’ as a pejorative term and appears obsessed with masturbation, he might only be 15 or so.

    Either that or he might have been too busy sneering at you favourite band.

    Comment by Gregor W — October 6, 2014 @ 9:25 pm

  50. I can’t speak for Simon, but I didn’t vote, simply because I couldn’t find a party that I felt I could give my support to with a clear conscience. Every party had at least one policy that was a deal-breaker for me. I realise this level of political pickiness may seem ridiculous to some, but I felt awful when I did used to vote despite these deal-breaking policies. However I wouldn’t go so far as to say I speak for many other non-voters.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 6, 2014 @ 9:26 pm

  51. I realise this level of political pickiness may seem ridiculous to some …

    Pretty much, yep. Shame there isn’t some sort of system whereby kalvarnsen can’t win being King and get the whole world to be exactly how he wants it to be. Then he wouldn’t have to hang out on comment threads chastising people for supporting the Greens.

    Comment by Grassed Up — October 6, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

  52. @Grassed: But let me guess, if I was hanging out on comment threads applauding people for supporting the Greens, that would be less self-important and more productive?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 6, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

  53. Turnout is pretty steady since 2002, after the Alliance collapsed and we lost our socially conservative left wing option. It’ll be up again next time most likely, as more people become willing to vote for anyone at all to get rid of National’s slowly purifying 4th government.

    @Kalvamsen, that’s fucking stupid, man. Just say’n. No matter who gets in there’s going to be shit gets passed that you don’t like, and when you don’t vote other people’s desires take your place. Which means even more things that you don’t like will happen. You don’t like one of party A’s policies? What about the fifteen from party B are going through because you didn’t vote? Tell your friends they’re stupid too.

    @tussock, dude, the speaker’s been allowed to vote since 1996, when we got MMP. Speaking of stupid.

    Comment by tussock — October 6, 2014 @ 10:56 pm

  54. In America & Britain turnout has already fallen into the 60% range.

    As for the hard-left vote, the Alliance didn’t survive the split over the Afghan war and subsequent departure of Jim Anderton, and it’s not likely to make a comeback.

    Kalvarnsen & Simon: would you vote for a British LibDem type of movement?

    Comment by Kumara Republic — October 6, 2014 @ 11:01 pm

  55. Each to their own when deciding how to vote (if at all), but virtually nobody’s going to get a perfect combination of policies. Communicating with MPs and Ministers and telling them what you think about stuff, and why, is as important as voting for whoever it is you’d prefer to see in the driving seat. I’m not going to stop telling MPs when I think they suck, just because I might have voted in their direction. On the other hand, sometimes I might even tell them I appreciate what they’ve been doing.

    Comment by izogi — October 6, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

  56. @Kumara: God no, the Lib Dems are pretty appalling, and that opinion isn’t a product of their coalition with the Tories in 2010 either.

    As to those who think my non-voting is silly, fair enough – I’m not looking for validation, and I’m certainly not trying to convert people. I get the cold, rational logic of balancing the good and the bad, but I like to think we all agree that there are some policies that would shatter that calculation for us – even if they’re the kind of policies that are never enacted in real life (or at least, not since 1945). It’s not about bad policies, it’s about policies that are so bad I simply can’t get past them. I just got sick of voting for parties through clenched teeth, using the same logic you’ve espoused, and then complaining to my friends about how they were doing horrible things. I eventually realised that as long as I was still voting for them, they were getting everything they needed from me. Parties don’t campaign for our warm feelings or for us to say nice things about them to our friends, they campaign for our votes, and they were getting everything they needed from me. I decided to stop endorsing them with my vote. I’m open to changing my mind if the right party with the right policies comes along – Mana came close.

    As an aside, I don’t think it’s really fair to characterise the Alliance as the “socially conservative left” – while that might describe Jim Anderton personally, the party itself had some extremely socially progressive policies. Paid parental leave was a flagship Alliance policy and it’s hard to see that as socially conservative.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 7, 2014 @ 12:54 am

  57. The Weatherman cometh with the blood moon, Johnny baby

    Comment by Blood Moon — October 7, 2014 @ 4:53 am

  58. @Kalvarnsen – I think you could make an argument that paid parental leave is socially conservative, in that “a mother’s place is at home with her kid/s” is essentially a conservative position. Paid parental leave and WFF have done a lot to make this possible for many families (including mine) and have been supported by social conservatives on both the left and right – it’s mainly the economic liberals that have opposed both.

    Comment by Andy M — October 7, 2014 @ 8:50 am

  59. Jim was never that socially conservative – he voted the right way on most things in the end, even if not everything. The Alliance definitely weren’t socially conservative over all. Don’t get why people are so convinced they were.

    Comment by Keir — October 7, 2014 @ 9:08 am

  60. Sanc: “It is a myth vigorously spread by Federated Farmers that dairy farms are largely family owned and that farmers are wheat stalk chewing children of the soil.”

    Maybe, but not the ones I know. Nevertheless, regardless of who owns the farms, there are small towns around NZ full of people who work on farms, deal lots with farmers, or spend lots of time engaging with those who do. Aside from the people I know who are in ownership of a family farm, it’s the whole community who I was referring to.

    These are the types of people for whom “supporting National is a family tradition“, which is why I think it’d be a struggle for the Green Party to get through to them. It’s not a matter of arguing logic, it’s a matter of trying to get through a brick wall of preconceived ideas.

    Comment by izogi — October 7, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

  61. There’s a “poll of polls” here: http://imgh.us/nzpollsresult.svg. As you’ll see, it predicted a vote for the Greens of 12.5%, with a MoE of +/- 0.7%.

    So the Greens didn’t just forget about statistics. The polls were instead pointing to an outcome different from what turned out.

    Comment by Flashing Light

    So the polls, and the dubious MoEs gathered that don’t adjust for bias, or repeat polling of individuals from different companies, are inaccurate. And the MoE was inaccurate by, in some cases, nearly 6%. Which is pretty much my point about the Greens crowing about their level of support and failing to meet those expectations – at the numbers polled, which are used for economic convenience and because there’s diminishing returns, there are not only errors, but the errors are actually usually a lot higher, and poll results compared to election results are inconsistent across the board.

    So by actual application, the MoE of 0.7% is drastically wrong. It’s actually much higher, because I’m going to assume that the collated polls took the total number of participants and worked out MoEs from there. At a confidence interval of 95%, polls are only supposed to be outside the margin for error 5% of the time. That confidence interval represents the standard P>0.05. If the MoE is 0.7%, most polls will always fail to meet that level of probability at the 10% mark. Which they did. Universally in the week leading up to the election.

    The formula is wrong, or people don’t pay enough attention to noise in small samples. It is the latter, by the way. From Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com, if you don’t think I’m legit:

    “An appreciation for the noise intrinsic to polling — both that which is inevitable because of sampling error, and that which is introduced by polling firms because of improper methodology — is crucial if you want to have a well-informed idea of what will happen in the election.”

    Comment by Chris (@slackjawdtownie) — October 7, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

  62. @Chris, you are right that the MoE calculation understates the uncertainty surrounding the estimates of support, meaning that the calculated confidence intervals have incorrect coverage (coverage is the *actual* proportion of the time that the interval calculated by a given method includes the true population parameter, which may not be 95%). This is because the standard formula accounts only for pure sampling error, but there are actually other sources of uncertainty (e.g., missing responses, participants not accurately reporting their voting intentions, etc.)

    The problem is that there’s a big jump from knowing about these other sources of uncertainty to actually being able to quantitatively take them into account. E.g., You can recognise that there seems to be a systematic bias in the polls for specific parties (e.g., downward for NZF, upward for GP), but estimating and accounting for that bias is difficult because there are only a very few recent election data points to use in the first place. Certainly the way to deal with the problem is *not* to take the margin of error for a party at 50% and just assume that it applies to the minor parties too, as (I think) your earlier posts seem to suggest.

    Comment by Matt — October 7, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

  63. “Paid parental leave was a flagship Alliance policy and it’s hard to see that as socially conservative.”

    Paying women to stay home after they have a baby? Like, literally get back in the kitchen now you’re a mother? It’s certainly left-wing, but I think you’ll find the liberal version is where they can just bring the baby in to work, free upright slings for all. Liberal paid leave entitlements would be for everyone, be it father or mother of a baby, a mid-life crisis, starting a band, climbing mountains, being an Olympic competitor, whatever. Come back when you feel ready.

    Social liberalism isn’t about the law forcing people into their “proper” place for just the perfect amount of time. That’s social conservatism, it’s just a feminist version where women are also valued. Which is a left-wing thing of everyone being valuable, rather than just the people with the most money.

    Comment by tussock — October 7, 2014 @ 4:51 pm

  64. Paid parental leave doesn’t “force” women to do anything, it financially recognises a woman’s unpaid and societally undervalued work. I can’t think of anything more progressive. In case you’ve forgotten, the law was strongly supported by feminist groups at the time.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 7, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

  65. @Keir: I think Jim had some personally socially conservative instincts – he was very opposed to euthanasia, for example – but he would often set those aside when the party as a whole was going in another direction. But you’re right, the “socially conservative” meme is really groundless. My guess is that it comes from Green supporters wanting to claim that they’re not only the only current voice for the progressive left, but that they’ve always been its only voice.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 7, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

  66. “But let me guess, if I was hanging out on comment threads applauding people for supporting the Greens, that would be less self-important and more productive?”

    Nah. I suspect you’ll always be self-important and non-productive. But there’s something very annoying about someone who is so solipsistic that they can’t possibly bring themselves to have anything to do with any political party that doesn’t reflect their every last belief then sneering at people who are involved in the inevitable compromises and deals with the devil that party politics represents.

    Comment by Grassed Up — October 7, 2014 @ 6:16 pm

  67. @Grassed: Who’s sneering?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 7, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

  68. @Chris (@slackjawdtownie),

    I think you’ve moved a long way from your original claim (which wasn’t all that clear to start with), but anyway … the obvious question is (i) did the polls falsely report what peoples’ voting intentions were with respect to the Greens; or (ii) did the polls accurately report what peoples’ voting intentions were with respect to the Greens, but a bunch of those people then didn’t actually bother to vote?

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 7, 2014 @ 6:35 pm

  69. 65 – yes, Jim personally is a reasonably socially conservative person. But he voted for homosexual law reform, civil unions, etc – for an old white catholic male, he was pretty liberal. He didn’t vote for euthanasia or prostitution reform, and he’s quite conservative on drugs & alcohol, but those don’t really justify the “social conservative tag”, and the rest of the Alliance was more liberal than he was.

    Comment by Keir — October 7, 2014 @ 6:58 pm

  70. I think the Greens do have a future in Dairy Country, just not perhaps specifically with dairy farmers. Their workers and the people who live in the neighbouring towns are the people who may vote Green.

    Take Waitaki for one, which is a reasonably new electorate of sorts. It has the urban settlements of Oamaru, Waimate, Geraldine, Wanaka, Alexandra and Clyde, the first two of which have long had strong left wing votes (the others might too, I’m not sure). In pre MMP days when electorates were smaller, Waitaki was more dominated by Oamaru and was often considered a marginal. I do recall Sutton winning it for Labour (although I was a child so details escape me).

    The Green Party vote seems to be steadily increasing there, it seems to be over 4000. Now I don’t think Dean will lose sleep here, as she seems to marshal at least 50% of the vote these days, if not more, but it does appear that the Greens will be able to slowly build their share and activist base there. In the right circumstances, like say 2002, when National last lost the sort of proceeding electorate of Otago, that may be enough to snatch a win if Labour and the Greens play it strategically.

    I wonder if the Greens will replace Labour in places like that?

    Comment by Juan Incognito (@juanincognito) — October 8, 2014 @ 5:38 am

  71. Reblogged this on Talking Auckland and commented:
    A few questions for the University Political Studies departments to work out. One question being: do we continue to pursue the non voter especially the youth non voter or just go OH #%^$ IT and chase the ones more likely to vote.
    Food for thought – despite it being better food for thought

    Comment by Ben Ross - Talking Auckland — October 8, 2014 @ 8:29 am

  72. Juan – I think the Green vote will continue to increase in Waitaki, though it won’t necessarily replace Labour. However, Waitaki isn’t ‘Dairy Country’. It’s sheep farming, fruit growing, wine-making and tourism country, where dairying has made little inroad because it can’t cope with the droughts. Waitaki’s an interesting place to watch in itself, but it tells us nothing about the Green Party’s future in dairy country.

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — October 8, 2014 @ 11:44 am

  73. The Greens carbon policy is the policy of 1st World Europe that has been rejected by the developing world each and every time it has been presented for the past 25 years. It is a joke of a policy.

    Q. How do you get a global policy on climate change?
    A. Make the policy unacceptable to most of the world.

    But in certain political markets that policy sells pretty well.

    The Greens persist with the policy, because the European political model upon which they are based delivers the Greens a consistent 5 – 15%. We are a first world country of mostly European people, the Greens will get 5 – 15% here. It is nice secure vote share from a bunch of people who are convinced they are working for the good of the world and will vote Green till the cows come home.

    The Greens being unwilling to compromise with the right (or even the centre) locally and the developing world globally, is what brings in the votes. It gives the Greens and their supporters a feeling of self worth seemingly unrivalled by anything short of a religious experience*.

    For the Greens to increase their votes is going to be very difficult. Finding environmental policies that tell 1st Worlders they are totally the most worthwhile people ever and at the same time having this policy appeal to the developing world… difficult.

    * I’m not religious.

    Comment by unaha-closp — October 8, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

  74. The Green climate policy only needs to appeal to Kiwis. If we reduce emissions our way, then the rest of the world is free to do it their way….as long they reduce emissions somehow. So a GPANZ policy that the developing world won’t like is a red herring. Only Kiwis need like it.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — October 8, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

  75. > So I’m a bit surprised to see it coming from a left wing commentator.

    It’s been a while since I’ve considered Danyl to be a left wing commentator. I don’t actually know if he fits any categorization deeper than Swing Voter. Which is probably why this blog swings ever rightwards, tracking the population, whether or not the population have made a mistake. Even Sanctuary despairs. It’s seldom about what would be the right thing to do any more, but simply about what should be done to gain power. The conclusion that our politics is sadly broken under those conditions is hard to bear, though. If you can’t beat them, join them, right?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — October 8, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

  76. @Ben: Well, between you and me I am not so certain of Danyl’s left wing credentials either. I guess what I meant was from a self-identified left wing commentator.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 8, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

  77. “but a bunch of those people then didn’t actually bother to vote?”

    Or, that they changed their mind and voted someone else, or both. There was after all several events in the last week that could suggest that.

    Comment by jmarshall — October 8, 2014 @ 7:14 pm

  78. > I guess what I meant was from a self-identified left wing commentator.

    Not sure even that shoe fits even more. But then I don’t think that the term “Left” is especially useful anyway. Putting everyone on a one dimensional line and judging their political totality on that? Meh. Representative party politics encourages this shit, no matter how proportional it is.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — October 8, 2014 @ 7:46 pm

  79. Unaha-Closp, in what way do you see the Green Party climate change policy having been rejected by the 3rd world?
    To the extent that there’s a consistent position on climate change policy among 3rd world governments, it would be the position that the First world needs to do its share of the emission rteductions, and that that share is much bigger than the third world’s share. Seeing as the Green policy is a plan for a first-world country to do its share of emission reductions, how can it not be consistent with what third world countries want?

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — October 8, 2014 @ 8:34 pm

  80. Can of Worms. I’m not sure if I agree re your categorisation of Waitaki. I do agree that it is more than just dairy country, but having grown up there, the transformation from mixed farming, to what we have today is marked. Dairy has expanded right up the Waitaki valley and across into the hill lands/river valleys further south. There are dairy farms from the Bridge, to Duntroon, to Maheno, to Palmerston. They largely were not there 20 years ago. You do raise a good point about tourism though, but that is mainly an Oamaru phenomena.

    Anyway, I do recall reading somewhere that the Greens organise on a local level, aiming for local council seats. Is this actually a strategy? It would seem like a good one to revisit if not, given their struggles breaking through past 10%. Given the awful turnout for local government in NZ (and I guess many other places), it surely would be an achievable goal to try and develop strong regional strongholds (not necessarily winning control) across the country, like the Liberal Democrats did in the UK, then try and use that to increase their national representation (although in NZ’s case this probably means more just winning local electorates rather than more seats, if we assume 10-12% is their natural level). It may not be worth the effort but it would make the party stronger and help transform it into a genuine national party and perhaps more capable of losing popularity in a coalition.

    Comment by Juan Incognito (@juanincognito) — October 9, 2014 @ 12:25 am

  81. Anyway, I do recall reading somewhere that the Greens organise on a local level, aiming for local council seats. Is this actually a strategy?

    It’s certainly the case in Wellington with the GP holding 3 city and 2 regional councillors + the Mayor.
    Eastern and Lambton Ward are roughly correlated to Rongotai and Wellington Central which both had good national election turn-outs.

    Comment by Gregor W — October 9, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  82. Can of Worms – the Greens support the adoption of an extended Kyoto protocol of binding obligations, the Greens reject a convention approach as being insufficient. In Doha the developing world favoured the convention approach and rejected extending Kyoto globally. The Doha round successfully negotiated conventions on climate change that were inclusive of developing world nations. The Greens both here and in Europe decried Doha as a failure.

    The Greens want a binding of enforceable global reduction within the principles of Kyoto. The Greens won’t accept compromise and even suggest that NZ should set an example of moral superiority to the rest of the world.

    Comment by unaha-closp — October 9, 2014 @ 12:12 pm

  83. “The Greens want a binding of enforceable global reduction within the principles of Kyoto.”
    Shit, they still don’t get it: most countries blather is rhetoric: they know that reducing carbon dioxide emissions involves an economic cost, falling disproportionately on the voting workers. They know they can keep making green sounds without actually having to do anything that will impact on anyone. In the meantime, Greens get angry about fracking, when it has been the major reason one major country has seen a fall in emissions. At least National aren’t TOO hypocritical on carbon. Third world nations that allow voting: voters want access to cheap reliable energy like we have in the west. Third world nations that DON’T allow voting: those in charge don’t want their regime to suffer a reduction in wealth, and don’t want an uprising, so won’t do curb emissions.

    “The Greens won’t accept compromise and even suggest that NZ should set an example of moral superiority to the rest of the world.”
    Keep it up: no one extra will vote for you and that suits us baby-eating RWNJs just swell.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 10, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

  84. @ 75 / 76 / 78

    Presumptuous of me, I know, but I suspect Danyl is what I would call a ‘Liberal Centrist’. Centrist on economic policy, very liberal on moral issues. They’re a very distinct group among the urban middle-classes. Prefers a Labour-led Government (as most Liberal-Centrists do), but is affluent enough (and perhaps politically-fickle enough) not to be too bothered if it doesn’t happen. Indeed, happy to go as far as suggesting that we’ve all just dodged a bullet by failing to elect a Left-leaning Government.

    Comment by swordfish — October 10, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

  85. swordfish #84: In other words, LibDem territory.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — October 10, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

  86. @swordfish: Danyl has often said he wants to go back to the pre-Muldoon economy, although curiously, he’s against some of the key features of that economy (e.g. unionisation).

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 10, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

  87. What was the personal tax rate before Muldoon? Two-thirds afterwards makes him our most socialist PM for ages, I reckon.

    Comment by Sacha — October 10, 2014 @ 9:17 pm

  88. Good luck basing our economic future on exporting to anyone who is serious about tackling climate change. Our current government is betting on China and the US not being part of that, but it seriously reduces our leverage at best. Plus who wants to stay and move here with that as the flag we hoist aloft?

    Comment by Sacha — October 10, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

  89. @Sacha: Barry Gustafson said that Muldoon was ‘effectively a social democrat’, although he is obviously biased.

    But it is interesting that a lot of the people on the left who decry Muldoon are actually in favour of more government involvement in the economy.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 10, 2014 @ 9:51 pm

  90. People’s problems with Muldoon are wide and varied. Government involvement being only one. Being supportive of the latter doesn’t mean to say one is a hypocrite with regards to Muldoon, it just means one has a nuanced opinion on things.

    Plenty of people in National had substantial issues with Muldoon too, I know a few. Some of them were supportive of intervention of different kinds.

    Comment by Juan Incognito (@juanincognito) — October 10, 2014 @ 11:02 pm

  91. “Plus who wants to stay and move here with that as the flag we hoist aloft?”
    Argh, you’re right: I wondered why folk were fleeing this country. We are seeing the biggest loss of people since…

    “88.Good luck basing our economic future on exporting to anyone who is serious about tackling climate change.” Name them.
    The only country to have made progress on emissions is the US, and they did it by accident.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 11, 2014 @ 6:30 pm


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