Joe Hendren

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Proportional representation and right wing whinging

The Herald on Sunday editorial calling for the election to produce a 'clear mandate' is nothing more than right wing winging about the demise of first-past-the-post and the inability of their National party friends to gain the support of more than 50% of New Zealanders for their policies.

The Herald questions whether Labour would have a legitimate claim to power in the case where Labour gets less votes than National, but Labour forms a government with support from a number of smaller parties. They claim a government formed by Labour, Greens, Progressives and the Maori party would be running "counter to the plainly expressed view of the people"

This position is simply constitutionally illiterate, as NoRightTurn has pointed out. A government needs to demonstrate that it carries a majority in the House on confidence and supply. What matters is winning the numbers on a confidence vote - it does not matter how those numbers are made up.

Of course, National and their supporters do not actually believe the largest party in parliament has an automatic 'moral right' to be the government. As my friend Peter T pointed out on Friday night - if this was the case Don Brash should have conceded on election night 2005. Labour won a greater share of the party votes than National. While I think Brash made a mistake not acknowledging that Clark was in a better position to form a Government in 2005, he was still entitled to conduct discussions to find out whether a government led by him would enjoy the support of the house.

Now in the event National do win more party votes than Labour on Saturday, one can respond to Tories demands for an immediate concession with a simple question. Did Brash offer his immediate concession to Clark in the case where Don saw a slim chance of a National led Government? No? Well if thats the case, don't expect a concession from Helen either.

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