Joe Hendren

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Friday, September 02, 2005

The Peters disease must be airborne

Over at Poster Child, Bren examines the geographical spread of the 2002 party vote in an interesting way. Looking at the minor parties, he lists the top 10 electorates by party vote for each party, with the bottom 10 electorates for each party.

NZ First support appears to be focused around the top of the North Island. In fact, most of these electorates are right next to each other - the Peters disease must be airborne! From Northland to the North, to Taranaki-King Country and Rotorua in the south, an iron passes over an Italian suit, and people fall for it. Thankfully, Auckland city appears to have greater immunity (yay to the Migrants!).

I have often wondered why Winston Peters' supporters are so geographically bound. As Peters gained nearly 15% of the party vote in the Maori seats in 2002, does the northern north island concentration represent his Maori constituency in the general seats, as these areas have reasonable Maori populations as a percentage? But given his vote, there must be more to it than this. Any thoughts?

While much as been said of the threat of the Maori party to Labour and the Greens, no one appears to have pointed out that NZ First's vote could be drained by the Maori party, especially given his stance on the seabed and foreshore issue. Given his policies I have always found it strange why Peters attracts support from Maori - it seems more than a little insulting to claim it can be explained in terms of just 'face' value.

And as for NZF's worst seats - the educated liberal electorates absolutely loathe and detest Peters. With good reason, Mr Powell.

I hope Winston looses Tauranga, I really do. The less our MMP electoral system is distorted by egotistical upstarts in single electorates the better. Lets lower the threshold from 5%, but do away with the silly rule that allows those who win one electorate to bring their cronies in with them*. Lets encourage parties to base themselves on clear policy and principles - this is what party votes are meant to be about after all.

* Germany requires parties to win at least 3 electorate seats (or 5%) to gain list seats.

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At 12:37 pm, Anonymous BerlinBear said...

In proportional terms, winning one electorate seat in New Zealand is actually a *higher* threshold than winning three electorate seats in Germany. In fact it's almost twice as high, since the German Bundestag has 598 seats.

Also, relevant to the geographical location of support bases, the German list candidates are decided on a state by state basis, not nationally as in NZ. Each party has a list for each state and its representation in the Bundestag from that particular list is then decided according to the party vote in the state, not nationally. (Have I explained that in a comprehensible way?)

At 7:46 pm, Blogger span said...

yep that makes sense bear. very interesting. i also heard from a colleague a while ago that the Allies imposed MMP on Germany so that no one party could ever rule alone again - any idea if that's true?

At 9:42 am, Blogger Comrade_Tweek said...

Yes, Span it is. The Germans and the French wanted a return to proportional voting - which is common in all the Western European states sans the UK. However, the British and the US wanted a first past the post system which would guarantee a 'stable' government.

They were also terrified of the increase in support for the Communists. Hence, they compromised and MMP was born...

At 10:02 am, Blogger Rich said...

Winston's combination of xenophobia and voodoo economics appeals to the less educated.

If you come from a rural area and are halfway smart the chances are you will wind up going to uni and not coming back. Even among the kids who don't go to uni a lot wind up moving to a big city for a social life. So these places have a disproportionate number of people who didn't get much of an education. In some places (like Raglan and the Coromandel) you get people making a lifestyle decision to move there (usually once they've found an independent source of money) and they're the Green voters.

It's the same all over the world (interestingly there are places that are rural but not redneck, like the Scottish Highlands).

At 11:07 am, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

Thanks Bear, I would imagine that would be right in terms of seats, but are the sizes of electorates comparable? From memory the size of NZ electorates ranges from about 34-44k. Do you know what is the size of electorates in Germany?

I guess I was attempting to avoid the situation where a party is depending on one particular individual.

A lot of people seems to assume the best way for a new party to get into parliament is to win an electorate, yet this often requires a party to moderate its policies so much it looses support, even if there is conceiveably over 5% support distributed nationally for its original policies. Yet if you don't have an electorate lined up people worry about so called 'wasted votes'.

If the party vote theshold was lowered, would be need the electorate based threshold?

At 11:11 am, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

Can I clarify something here - is Proportional voting the same thing as STV? If not, why was it not on the list in the 1992 referendum (which offered preferenial voting which is not the same thing)

At 11:19 am, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

The high 5% threshold is often defended on the basis that it stops 'extreme' parties from gaining parliamentary representation, with the Nazi's often given as the example.

Yet I believe it is highly probable the Nazis could have entered parliament in Germany in the 1920-30s under MMP, especially as most of their support was based in Barivia/Munich.

So I find it interesting NZ First support is also closely centred on a geographic area.

At 11:35 am, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

Rich. Thats interesting. However I beleive some of the blame for this lies with the traditional parties of the centre left no longer addressing the concerns of low-paid, low-educated workers.

For example, Labour regard the loss of manufacturing jobs in NZ as a 'adjustment' cost to the free trade deal with China, not something should be avoided.

I really have trouble attepting to understand fears surrounding immigration - this is my best go.

I have often wondered about the fear of immigrants 'taking our jobs' stems from the left failing to address the fears of workers about job security and availablity.

The factory being put into boxes and moved to China will mean many more job losses than a small number of immigrants moving into an area - perhaps it is psychologically easier to blame individual people than an economic system, full of power imbalances, that acts against the interest of workers.

And the Labour party have not explained free market capitalism to workers in such a way in a long long time.

At 11:45 am, Blogger Comrade_Tweek said...

STV is a form of Proportional Voting. As you are aware, Proportional Voting provides each party with parliamentary representation based on their share of the vote. There are different PR systems in use throughout Europe.

You are right about the Nazi's. They and the Communists had quite considerable support in the Weimar Republic, climbing to over 20 percent in the early 1930s. I have not got access to my books here at work, but I seem to recall that the Nazi Party achieved something like 30 - 40 percent at one point (I would need to check that out).

However, the 5 percent threshold would not have stopped the Nazi's. They were well above that.

At 6:07 pm, Blogger Bren said...

STV was in the 1992 referendum. Along with the preferential vote, MMP and supplementary member systems.

I think STV should be used in the individual electorate seats, and I have to agree that the threshold needs be dropped to about 2-3% and dropping the one electorate rule.

Though this does have the effect of making the individual electorates even less important than they are currently. Something I'm not too sure about doing.

At 6:33 am, Anonymous BerlinBear said...

In response to your questions, I did a bit of research to find out more. There are 299 electorates (Wahlkreise). They are known primarily by number (mine would be 80, if I were allowed to vote, which, not being a German citizen I am no and will never be - Grrr!) but they also have names.

According to this official electoral office website, they electorates are designed to be similar in terms of population. To test that, I looked at the demographics of a small sample of 5 electorates and found that the numbers varied between 255,000 and 315,000. That would seem to suggest that they are aiming for an average of around 275,000, though of course mine was just a tiny sample. Hope that extra info helps.


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