Monday, November 28, 2011

Election Thoughts

On Saturday I voted in the New Zealand Elections. I was allowed to vote as a permanent resident. In Australia I would need to be a citizen.
As a citizen it would be compulsory to vote in Australia so turnout is about 95%. In New Zealand it is only compulsory (even for permanent residents) to enroll and so the turnout was less than 70%.  Of those, 48% voted for the party led by a man who was once head of a leading foreign bank in London. So much for the claims of the occupiers that it is 99% against the 1%. I wonder how many of them bothered to vote.

Of course the result was expected so I cannot be disappointed.

In Australia there is preferential voting so you need to number every square on the voting paper.  Most states and the Commonwealth have 2 houses of parliament so there are 2 voting papers. The upper houses vary but most have a complicated system of voting and the paper can be huge (often referred to as table cloths).

In New Zealand there was one A4 size paper requiring 2 ticks. One for the local member and one for the party vote. I voted for the local Labor member who was elected. (Dunedin votes different from much of the country usually electing 2 Labor members).
My party vote was Green and I was pleased to see their vote increased to 10% and there will be 13 members of parliament.

As in Australia, it is difficult for the smaller parties to win an electorate but in NZ the party vote allows them to gain members in the parliament close to the proportion of votes they gain across the country. In Australia the complex upper house voting usually achieves a similar result in the upper houses only.

There was a referendum to revert the NZ system back to First Pass the Post similar to UK and I think the USA. Thankfully it lost. Under FPP it is very difficult for smaller parties to be elected and I would see no point in voting in future as my preference is definitely Green party.

At least the result was known a few hours after the polls closed. In Australia it can take days before a definite result. There is haggling about forming a government. However the National Party only needs 2 more in order to control the house. These will be provided by 2 parties each with one member. One party (ACT) is even further to the Right.
We wait to see who the Maori party will support. They supported National in the last parliament but it is believed this lost them votes. They are strange bed fellows.

I must admit that when National were elected to Government 3 years ago, it was a point against my move to New Zealand. However, although I do not agree with many of their policies they are not as bad as the centre right party (Liberal/National)  that often dominates Australia politics.

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