Monday, July 28, 2008

Can Labour win?

Therese Arseneau has a post on the TVNZ site on why Labour thinks it can win again. The chief reason? MMP. By making sure every vote counts equally, and removing the distortions which previously favoured rural-based National (to the extent that it "won" the 1978 and 1981 elections while receiving fewer votes than Labour), MMP has levelled the playing field (which is precisely why the right hates it and wants to get rid of it. A fair electoral system? It's practically communism!). Labour is also far better at the coalition game than National, which makes their position far stronger than it appears. But that said, they still need at least 40% of the vote to have a credible shot at a fourth term. Arseneau is silent about whether Labour can actually do this - she's saving that for her next column - but highlights a number of reasons which could give them hope.

As for me, I'm not sure, and in any case I think the more interesting question is "how National can lose". They're basically betting everything on a majority government, but as we saw in 2002, the electorate is rather averse to that idea (its one of the things we brought in MMP to stop). And while they're polling high, given their lack of credible friends, they don't need to lose too much in order to be forced to go begging to parties they don't like for confidence and supply. And if that happens, given their lack of coalition skills, they can pretty much kiss their policy agenda goodbye...