Sunday, October 18, 2020

The unexpected result

The people have spoken, and its a Labour majority government. This wasn't meant to happen under MMP, and in fact its exactly what the system was designed to prevent: no majority governments, no elected dictatorships, unless we really, really want it (which at the time seemed unlikely on 40 years of voting patterns). And then it turned out that we did really, really want it.

Its obviously not the result I wanted (I wanted Labour beholden to the Greens so we would see actual progress on climate change, inequality and housing, rather than status quo waffle and bullshit). But its what we've got. And Labour earned it - they campaigned hard, convinced people they deserved power. While they've achieved this majority with slightly less than 50% of the vote, its not really a consequence of this year's record wasted vote (more on that later); 49.1% would have given a majority under almost all MMP elections. And they might yet shrink the difference to rounding error on the specials.

Meanwhile, the Greens have broken the junior partner curse and avoided elimination despite being in government, and Chloe Swarbrick has won Auckland Central in her own right, sticking it to the rich lawyer Labour put up against her. Winston is out, and hopefully gone for good. And the Māori Party is back, though so far with just a single MP. I'm particularly pleased with that - they are an essential voice in our politics, and one whose absence has been noticable in the last term. Hopefully we'll see more of them in the future.

At 7.7%, the wasted vote was a record high, and this again shows the problems of the 5% threshold. Labour has said they want to lower it, and nothing is now stopping them from doing so. Unfortunately, they've said they want to do it by eliminating the "electorate lifeboat", which would actually increase disproportionality. So I'm hoping the Māori Party will make the case that it is essential to protecting Māori representation, and convince them otherwise.

As for policy, Labour can basicly do what it wants. But this means that they now own the problems of climate change, inequality, and housing, and have no-one else to blame if they fail to take any convincing action on them. Hopefully that will sharpen their minds a bit. And if they waste the mandate they've been given, we'll be judging them on it in three years time.