Monday, September 11, 2023

This is not a "governing" arrangement

The upcoming election is basicly a competition between two broad coalitions: Labour-Green-Te Pāti Māori, and National-ACT. Discontent with the status quo parties and their bipartisan policy of austerity and inequality has caused voters to shift to the minor parties, who at least offer change of one sort or another - and there's the usual pre-election posturing around "bottom lines" and threats to "sit on the cross-benches". But even then, its clear that the left coalition could put together a functional government if it had the numbers: even if Labour rejects the policy demands of its partners, the result will be them going it alone as a minority government, with support on confidence and supply, but nothing else. On the right, its a different story, with ACT proposing a new "governing" arrangement:

ACT has floated the possibility of a new kind of governing arrangement if National refuses to cooperate during post-election negotiations.

Party leader David Seymour has threatened to resort to a confidence-only deal, which would require the larger party to seek ACT's backing for all government spending - or "supply" - decisions on a case-by-case basis.


"I think we'd be able to be clear that, you know, while they have the confidence of the house, if they want to pass Budgets they are going to have to rely on another party," Seymour said.

"I think it would probably be just confidence."

...which might sound good to the constitutional illiterates in ACT. But what happens if a government fails to pass a budget is that they cease to be government any more (see McGee on implied votes of confidence). So what Rimmer is basicly promising here is that unless he is given a line-item veto over every aspect of government spending and is allowed to decide what gets cut and who gets sacked, Aotearoa will face (at best) annual US-style budget standoffs - or another election. Which is not any sort of "governing" arrangement at all, but a recipe for chaos.

I think its fair to say that this is not the style of government that voters expect. But then, the solution is simple: if you don't want chaos, don't vote for it.