Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Prospects for a government

Everyone else is doing the numbers and speculating on the shape of the new government, so here's a few thoughts. Firstly, the process of government formation is going to be dominated by three factors:

  1. Any government will need the support of at least two, and most likely three or even four, of the minor parties;
  2. None of the small parties wants another election; and
  3. Some of the parties refuse to work with others or do not want them to have too much power

I explored exactly this sort of situation last year, and IMHO the same conclusion holds. The need for many parties to give their support and the desire to avoid another election will encourage parties to give confidence and supply relatively cheaply (as Peter Dunne did last term), and save the hard bargaining for policy and legislation, while the mutual dislike will cause them to veto one another's presence at the cabinet table. The end result (assuming no radical changes on the specials) is likely to be a Labour-Progressive minority government which will only be able to legislate by consensus. Helen will not be able to play parties off against one another (as she has done this term), and so will have to rein in her autocratic urges. Which I don't think is a bad thing at all.


As far as the first factor goes, there's another option - a government with the support of the other major party and no minor parties. It will never happen, of course, but Labour and National have much more in common with each other than, say, the Greens and United Future.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 9/20/2005 03:54:00 PM


Do you really think that Winston will behave? Maybe, he will remembering the way that voters punished him in 1999. But I wouldn't count on it. Not only that but - unless specials change things - he is key to any realistic coalition option. (I don't think Labour + Progs + Green + UF + Maori is realistic). I could be wrong, but aware of this as he must be, I would imagine that, at this very moment, his nostrils are flaring with the scent of power.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/20/2005 09:13:00 PM

Terence: I think he'll behave by abstaining on confidence and supply, at least for a while. I think he'll really throw his weight around on legislation, demanding concessions every time he votes for something. This may eventually result in deadlock, or things may work much better than expected; we'll just have to wait and see.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/21/2005 01:27:00 AM

What should happen, if everyone avoids the pointless bloodletting and assuming no major changes come Sep 2nd, is that we have a Labour, Green, and Jim coalition, with "support" from NZ First.
NZF and UF can then agree to vote down all the "luddite" (sic) green policies as they arrise (amending the budget as needs be), and everyone should be happy.

I have no idea if they're sensible enough for that or not.

Here's hoping Nandor (127) gets in off the Nats (120), and Matt (122) gets in off Labour (119). A 62-60 diverse left could be fun to watch for 3 years.

Shame Richard Lewis missed out, stupid threshold, those guys would've been endless laughs.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/21/2005 01:44:00 AM


The vote % column looks equally out for all parties if you divide their total vote by 2,052,813. I think the 2,052,813 must include "party informals" which are not included when working out the percentages (which are only calculated against valid votes).

At least that's my guess :)

Posted by Anita : 9/21/2005 12:18:00 PM

I'd much prefer 3 years Labour-led government with only non-contentious legislation to 3 years of the Nats.

Things like interest free student loans come under "supply" don't they?

Posted by Rich : 9/21/2005 12:46:00 PM

Rich: pretty much. I don't think the student loan interest rate requires legislation to change.

That said, I don't think Labour would have a free ride on its budgets. To the extent that any new policies announced (and funded) in the budget require legislation to implement, they will have to be cleared with other parties to ensure a legislative majority. But again, I don't think that's a Bad Thing.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/21/2005 12:59:00 PM