New Zealand Election - a NZ perspective

Marcus Ganley mganley at
Thu Nov 14 12:28:19 PST 1996

On Mon 11/11/96 Tom Round posted on three topics related to the
NZ election: 1) the votes 2) complaints re coalition bargaining
process 3) position of parties on left-right spectrum

I would like to address a number of inaccuracies in his posting.

The Electoral Commission's homepage
has full details of all parties' votes nationwide and by

___Number of Seats__
There are 120 seats
60 general electorates
5 Maori electorates
55 list MPs

___Runners UP___
The Christian Coalition which received around 90,000 votes
(approx 4.7%) just short of the threshold is totally ignored by
Tom's account.

The delay in the formation of the government is due to NZ First
conducting parallel confidential negotiations with both Labour
and National.   It has announced that the possible outcomes of
the process are: Coalition: Labour-NZF or National-NZF, Minority
Single party Govt: Labour or National. People have reacted
against this for 4 reasons.  First is due to the time factor
described by Tom. Secondly the fact that NZF has power
disproportionate to its number of votes

Thirdly the fact that the 3 parties signed confidentiality
agreements and thus we know __nothing__ about what is going on -
there is no way of knowing how much longer this will go on.  This
is particularly annoying to the journalists.  There is simply
nothing to report. They are left trying to read news into the
most trivial comments by the negotiation participation.  It is
also particularly annoying to Act and the Alliance who have been
left out of the process and those members of Labour, NZF &
National who do not know what their leaders are bargaining away. 
This has led a number of National backbenchers to ask National to
withdraw from the process.

Finally it appeared throughout the campaign that NZ First was
fundamentally anti-National.  During the campaign he said that he
would not be a member of any government that included Jim Bolger
(National leader), Bill Birch (National finance minister) or in
which Jenny Shipley (National Health minister) held a social
policy ministry. Deputy leader of NZ First, Tau Henare, claimed
he would not be part of any National government.  During the
campaign it appeared that NZ was heading towards a competing
blocs model of multiparty competition.  On the left we had the
'3-headed monster' (Labour. Alliance and NZ First) and the 'Toxic
Trio' (National, Act & Christian Coalition).  National billboards
read 'Vote Right or you'll get three from the Left'.  They had
adds of three shovels marked Labour. Alliance and NZ First
pilling soil on a check marked tax cuts.  When the election night
results showed that Labour + Alliance + NZ First had a majority
there was widespread belief that we would have a Labour + NZ
First government supported by the Alliance.  When Peters made it
clear that he would no longer rule out a government with National
and that the day after the election he had turned off his
cellphone and went sailing (A4 photo of smiling Peters on a yacht
on front page of the Herald) this was met by outrage.

More info is available on Mark Proffitt's NZ Election '96 mailing
list. To join the NZ Election 96 mailing list send a message to
proffitt at with a one line message
  'subscribe NZ Election 96'.

Left = 1, Right = 6
1. The Alliance.
NewLabour, Mana Motuhake, Liberals, Democrats (changed there name
from SocCred over 10 years ago), Green Party. NB Tom describes
the Liberals as a long-lived third party.  I find this
discription strange given that they were established AFTER the
1990 election by two dissident leftish-Nationals.  6 years isn't
long lived.  Of course this is not the first incarnation of a
'Liberal' party in NZ. One existed in the 30 but they are totally

2. Labour

3. NZ First.
While they are more protectionist than Labour they are also less
willing to spend than labour.  The mainstream of political
observers and the mass media in NZ place the party in the centre
of the spectrum.  This is based on a perception of  economic
redistribution v small gt is a better indicator of left-right
competition than globalisation v protectionism.

4. United.
United was formed last year by centrist MPs from Labour and
National.  I am utterly bemused by Tom's linking of United to the
Christian Right.  If this is the case it certainly has not been
picked up here.  I have personally interviewed their spokesperson
on social policy in the course of my research and there was no
mention of religion what so ever.  I would be most interested in
seeing some evidence of this huge jump to the right by United.

5. National

6. Act NZ: Was Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, then ACT
now simply Act NZ.

Hope this is of some use.

Marcus Ganley
Dept of Pol Studies
University of Auckland, NZ.

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