Election day ( NZ version )

After a bit of excitement earlier in the week with the US election today it’s New Zealand’s turn. Unlike the US where the vote takes place on a week day and most people have to fit voting in between work in NZ we have it on a Saturday in early spring ( and it is nice an sunny outside right now).

In NZ it’s also pretty easy to vote early or at any voting booth either in your electorate or outside it, so you can just pick whichever is the closest on the day ( although I have 2 places within 5 minutes walk of my house so I’ll probably go to one of them).

More about the NZ electoral system on wikipedia and elections.org.nz .

This year things are fairly interesting as it looks like there is a good chance there will be a change in government with the Centre-Left Labour Party being replaced by the Centre-Right National Party.

The government is actually ( and the new government will also probably be ) a coalition with one big party and smaller parties either formally part of the government or mostly supporting it.

In Labour’s case one of their big problems is that the New Zealand First party ( which is one of their partners) has gone beyond their previous populist position of bashing immigrants and otherwise pandering to their over 65 base to some very dubious practices including lying about donations, hiding them and then trying to give donors diplomatic posts or their industry government money. Which all might be legitimate in some countries like the US but in NZ is usually viewed as corruption.

Labour’s problem is that since it’s needs New Zealand First’s vote it has turned a blind eye to much of this and said it’s a matter for the courts etc. It’s also said it’ll probably keep the NZF leader Winston Peters in cabinet if it gets re-elected ( NZF is really the Winston Peter’s party since he founded and completely dominates it) . Labour is also perceived as a bit tired and running out of policies ( third-term-itis ) .

The opposition National Party while not looking stunning ( the leader John Key is a little bland and politically in-experienced) is at least looking a bit fresher ( I’m trying to ignore Maurice Williamson etc ) and while it probably won’t win enough votes to govern by itself it will certainly be the largest party and the big question is will it have a majority with it’s “Natural” coalition partners or will it have to reach out to more distant parties ( or failing that Labour might even be able to cobble together a wide ranging coalition) .

Personally I’ve been considering voting for National this year since I’m a generally right-wing on economic issues and liberal on social issues. The main things I dislike about National are:

  • Some knee-jerk recent policies to give welfare payments to mortgage holders who lose their jobs, I’m sorry but that is what employment insurance is for and discriminates against people like myself who rent.
  • Some ideas to change the electoral system ( not very defined beyond the don’t like the current one ) . I don’t like this because they will probably do their best to favour larger parties and also I dislike the fact that where somebody lives determines the worth of their vote. I live now and have lived previously in safe electorates where my local MP has zero chance of not being elected so my local vote doesn’t matter. On the other hand if I lived across the street ( really! ) I would be in an electorate which is competitive and my vote would matter quite a lot.
  • I generally dislike “tough on crime” policies of building more jails, longer sentences, reduced parole etc since I don’t believe they fix the problem. The things that will reduce the crime rates involve helping poor families and parents of kids that are likely to grow up to be criminals. These programmes are a lot cheaper per person ( verses $50,000 plus per year of housing a prisoner) and more effective in the long term but don’t have the headline grabbing that longer sentences does.

I also favour lower government spending in general ( except for my pet stuff like fibre networks and public transport  ) which I’m not sure National is committed to.

So I think this year I’ll be voting for Act again. I’ll admit they do push some of the anti-crime stuff I dislike but as a rule they are more liberal than National on social issues while I really like their policy of freezing government spending to the same level ( adjusted for inflation and population growth ). If National gets in then Act will be a coalition partner and I want to to have more influence over the government’s policies that it will have with more MPs.

Results from the election will be on the official website from 7pm tonight and also in the media ( eg the Herald ) . Personally I’ve got a little “Election Party” to go to at a friend’s place.