Polls and election prospects

A number of recent polls have given pointers to where the parties stand with less than two months to go until the election.

National

National have been polling in the high forties through to mid fifties but are expected to drop back a few percent in the final count. They are aware of this and are trying to minimise that drop by playing as safe a game as possible.

They have had some hiccups with embarrassments through Claudia Hauiti (now withdrawn from candidacy) and Gerry Brownlee’s airport security slip-up. Hauiti was National’s lowest ranked MP so she won’t be a loss, and Brownlee has front footed the damage control with what appears to be genuine contriteness.

National have just announced their list with no real surprises. They will say this week what other parties they will be prepared to work with and give a nod to some potential support parties in electorates.

They have yet to reveal much about policies. There main plank seems to be more of the same, steady sensible management of the economy.

That will be enough to win the most seats by far but they are not expected to get enough to rule on their own so their fortunes may be dictated by small parties. They will be hoping Winston Peters isn’t the main dictator.

Likely result range 45-50%.

Labour

The polls have not been good for Labour with the last twelve results being in the twenties, as low as 23%.

David Cunliffe continues to fail to impress as leader. He says his string of apologies are behind him but he is dropping in preferred Prime Minister polls, the latest having him on 8%. Some hope he will show his mettle in leader’s debates but it’s unlikely he will do enough to shine over the seasoned Key.

Media are writing Labour off and talking more about how low they might go instead of how much they might get. There’s good reason for this, they look divided and disorganised.

Labour’s best hope seems to limit the damage and not get any lower than their record low in 2011 of 27.28%. A more common hope is probably that their vote doesn’t collapse.

Likely result range 20-29%.

Green Party

The Greens bounce around in the polls, usually in the 10-15% range.

They look to be the best organised party by a long shot, and seem determined to finally get into Government. They deserve it on their own efforts but they are relying on Labour who will be worrying and disappointing them.

Without Labour improving substantially Greens look like at best competing for attention and influence amongst a mish mash coalition but more likely being denied by Labour’s failure.

Many voters are happy to see Greens in the mix but one negative is there is a wariness (and in some cases fear) of Greens getting to much influence, especially on economic matters. Some Green good, too much Green scary is a common sentiment.

Likely result range 10-15%.

NZ First

NZ First have been polling from a bit under to a bit over the magic 5%.

Most expect them to lift a bit in the run up to voting as happened last year but National will be taking as much care as possible not to hand Winston Peters another opportunity like the cup of tea debacle.

Peters is a seasoned campaigner and the media help his cause because he is good for stories, but time will tell whether there is too much seasoning in the old warrior and too little substance in the rest of the party as the other MPs have failed to impress.

One thing that may make it harder is direct competition for attention  and votes with the Conservative Party.

Likely result range 4-6%.

Maori Party

Poll results have been low for the Maori Party. That doesn’t usually matter because in all elections they have contested so far they have got more electorate seats than their party vote would give them so it has been unnecessary. Last election they got 1.43%.

It’s tougher for them in electorates this time with Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia retiring. It will be challenging for them to retain their current three seats, with some suggesting they might lose most or all of them.

There will be strong competition from the Dotcom financed MANA Party, but they may be helped by Labour’s woes.

For the first time the party vote may matter to the Maori Party, especially if they only hold one electorate seat.

Likely result range 1-2%.

Conservative Party

Polls have been in the 1-3% range. It’s now looking unlikely National will help Colin Craig in an electorate so they may have to get 5% to make it. That will be difficult, especially if Winston Peters competes openly with them.

Formed just before the last election the Conservatives got 2.65% and hope to improve on that. They have had much more exposure but that may have lost as much support as it has gained. Craig still seems politically naive. He has tried to turn the ‘Crazy Colin’ meme to his advantage but that’s a risky strategy.

Conservative fortunes are relying on National’s decision this week but it’s not looking positive for them.

UPDATE: John Key has just stated that National won’t help Craig in East Coast Bays so Conservatives only hope is getting 5%, which looks a big hurdle.

Likely result range 2-3%.

ACT Party

Act has been polling poorly, often under 1%.

Act were in turmoil last election with a very Brash takeover and installing John Banks as Epsom candidate. Banks won to save Act but has had a troubled term.

Act have made a concerted effort to rebuild over two elections. They have split responsibilities between Jamie Whyte as party leader and David Seymour in Epsom. Seymour looks a good bet in Epsom but the political jury is still out on Whyte and Act.

Much could come down to how Whyte looks in the minor party debates. He is intelligent and has good political knowledge but can look to serious and too polite – he hasn’t been forceful enough in interviews.

Act may benefit from being an alternative to giving National sole charge.

Likely result range 1-3%.

United Future

UnitedFuture has been languishing in polls, as often on 0% as slightly above.

More than ever UF hopes seem to rest solely on Peter Dunne in Ohariu. His chances are reasonable there. He has held the seat for thirty years so is very well known. He hasn’t had the best of terms but seems determined to rebuild his credibility.

Dunne looks to have been helped by all the major parties:

  • National have a new candidate who looks likely to campaign for the aprty vote only and has been given an almost certain list position.
  • Labour’s Charles Chauvel resigned mid term and has been replaced by a relative unknown.
  • Green’s Gareth Hughes has withdrawn from the electorate to promote youth and party vote and has been replaced by someone.

Like last election voters are likely to return Dunne and ignore the party. The party seems to be virtually ignoring the party.

Likely result range 0.3-0.7%.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

ALCP rarely feature in opinion polls, but they manage to get votes in elections. In 2011 they got 0.52%.

They are under new management this time and are likely to get some stoner and protest votes but 5% is just too high a hurdle for the influential media to pay them any attention.

Likely result range 0.4-0.8%.

Internet Mana Party

As a newly formed combo IMP have been polling 1-2%. They have a huge budget so will feature in the attention seeking stakes.

And while Kim Dotcom can’t stand as a candidate his attention seeking will keep him to the forefront of party success or failure.

Dotcom is promising a town hall circus five days before election day – he thinks this will destroy John Key and National but it could just as easily backfire.

His personal crusade is to oust the National Government. He is more likley to fracture the left wing vote and scare people off a Labour let government.

IMP’s monetary might will gain them some party votes but may fail in the ultimate aim.

Likely result range 2-4%.

Summary

IMP could be pivotal in the final result but it looks most likely to be a failure for them and a win for National with a few small allies.

Standard election authorisation notice

The Standard is trying to cover electoral advertising rules by having it’s own authorisation notice. This may not cover all authors and posts.

The Electoral Commission on the ‘regulated period’ for the upcoming election.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE REGULATED PERIOD

The regulated period for the 2014 General Election will start on 20 June 2014 and ends with the close of the day before election day (19 September 2014).

What is the significance of the regulated period? This can be a source of confusion. The answer is that it is significant for election expenses and Parliamentary Service funding.

In terms of election expenses the regulated period is the period during which the expenditure limits for parties and candidates operate. Currently these limits are: $25,700 for candidates and $1.091 million plus $25,700 per electorate contested for parties.

However, it is not the only time that the other rules regarding election advertising apply. The requirement for a promoter statement and the requirement for written authorisation to promote a party or candidate apply at all times.

A post in typical lprent fashion at The Standard:

Time to do the authorisation notice

This site frequently has opinions from authors and comments promoting promoting political positions and telling people who they should vote for or not vote for, and why.

Because of whining in previous election periods by some of the more obnoxious fools around the blogosphere, you’ll notice that we now have a notice at the bottom of the site.

Here’s an example of some whining by an obnoxious fool (love the irony) coming up to a previous election period, in July 2008 – Why is Labour so hypocritical on transparency?

Then in 2007  burst into life. They would have you believe it is a totally independent collection of activists who just happen to not like National. The reality is somewhat different.

The Standard says they are all independent bloggers. However the following e-mail has been forwarded onto me:

From: xxxxxxx xxxxxxx
Date: 11 June 2008 12:24:42 PM
To: labourmembersofparliament@parliament.govt.nz
Cc: pm@ministers.govt.nz, mike.williams@labour.org.nz
Subject: The Standard Blog

Dear all

I have a serious issue to raise with you all. It has come to my attention that two Ministerial staffers – Chris Elder and Andrew Kirton, both political employees – are blogging anonymously at the Labour-hosted, anti-John Key blog the Standard, http://www.thestandard.org.nz.

Given that a large number of these posts (most notably those by Chris Elder or all_your_base, a communications staffer on the ninth floor) occur during office hours, do you all believe it is appropriate that political employees are spending their time blogging anonymously? Is this approved behaviour?

Kind regards

xxxxxxx xxxxxx

After I was forwarded a copy of the e-mail by a parliamentary staffer, I asked the e-mailer the basis of the information, the e-mailer replied “A young Labour person I know who is also a blogger”

It has in fact long been speculated that Elder blogged as All-your-base as this was allegedly a favourite saying of his (referring to the tag line of a famous hacking group). He has denied being involved with The Standard, and it is of course impossible to prove or disprove without computer logs.

But it is likely that two of the bloggers are Beehive communications employees, and a third is the Labour Party Head Office Communications Manager. A fourth and maybe a fifth are employed by the EPMU – Labour’s largest affiliated union.

The Standard still promotes itself as a collective of independent activists, although admitted at one stage

We set The Standard up as an independent left-wing blog in August last year. As you probably remember by about November our traffic had got so large our server was crashing every day, sometimes for hours at a time. We put out a call and at the end of last year someone from Labour emailed us and offered us some temporary server space until we worked something out.

They have worked that out long ago and have also worked out a number of operation matters. Pseudonymous authors have come and gone. Like ‘Zetetic’, who coincidentally posted not long after lprent.

John Key on Iraq in the Herald today:

We are not a country out there looking for a fight.

John Key on Iraq 2003:

That links to a video on Youtube that was first uploaded leading into the 2008 election by ‘greenwoman’, who loaded seven videos around that time all critical of John Key. Zetetic must have a good memory.

Back to the lprent post that warns of the consequences of “comments left on our site”:

Thereafter I will consider that that comments left on our site about our conformance to the Electoral Act 1993 and the Broadcasting Act 1989 about any content on site will in themselves constitute unwanted advertisements on our site, and I will take the appropriate action. This is logical extension of our existing policy about handling people who try to tell us how to run our site.

Perpetrators will have their comments deleted and will be banned until after the election.

It’s interesting doing a search at The Standard on ‘banned until after the election’. The most serious offences tend to be challenging what authors post, speculating on the identity of authors and (allegedly) diverting from the message that authors want to promote.

From The Standard ‘About':

We write here in our personal capacities and the opinions that are expressed on the blog are individual unless expressly stated otherwise (see the policy). We do not write on behalf of any organization.

That links to:

The authors write for themselves with the following exceptions.

  1. If we are putting up material from a guest poster, then it will go up under “Guest Post” and may or may not have a name or pseudonym attached.
  2. If the site is reposting material from another site with no opinion or minimal opinion from an author, then it will go up under the name of “The Standard” (aka notices and features).
  3. There are some routine posts like the daily OpenMike that will also go up under the name of “The Standard” (aka notices and features) because they also offer no opinion.

The bar is high because we like robust debate, but there is a bar.

One could imagine their barn door:

The bar is high because we like robust debate, but there is a bar on debate we don’t like.

There’s been a number of other coincidental posts from the independent authors recently. Try this search:

http://thestandard.org.nz/?s=david+farrar&isopen=block&search_posts=true&search_sortby=date

lprent has frequently been accusing David Farrar of being a paid operative of the 9th floor of the Beehive.

It’s interesting that lprent has decided to put a blanket ‘authorisation notice’ on The Standard. But that’s under his own name.

The key messages are:

  • Publishers and broadcasters must ensure that election advertisements or election-related advertisements published at any time, in any medium, contain a promoter statement.
  • Publishers and broadcasters must ensure that any election advertisement that promotes any candidate and/or party has  been authorised in writing by the candidate and/or party secretary(s) before it is published/broadcast.

(Part 1 Election Advertising)

But lprent is registering as a ‘3rd party promoter':

1.3         Registered promoters

Any individual or group who is a third party promoter who spends, or intends to spend, over $12,300 (including GST) on election advertising during the regulated period (20 June to 19 September 2014) must register with the Electoral Commission. 

The following cannot be a registered promoter:

  • a constituency candidate,
  • a list candidate,
  • a  party,an overseas person,
  • a person involved in the administration of:

                – the affairs of a candidate in relation to the candidate’s election campaign, or

                – the affairs of the party.

http://www.elections.org.nz/third-party-handbook/part-1-third-party-promoters-and-parliamentary-elections

So he must not be involved in the affairs of any candidate or party (he has previously been involved with Labour and with Helen Clark).

What I don’t know is how lprent’s site authorisation statement affects anything that could potentially be posted or commented at The Standard by candidates, parties or persons involved in the administration of candidate or party election campaigns.

But it seems logical to me that parties, candidates and any person involved in the administration of campaigns would still need their own authorisation statements.

If they were being honest and transparent. lprent concludes his post:

In my opinion this policy should neatly eliminate some of the nuisances that we have had in previous elections.

It would be a nuisance if an author or commenter who disguises their connections and their intent by using a pseudonym would have to use an authorisation statement.

The use of pseudonyms at The Standard is strongly defended. It is explained that it doesn’t mean they are anonymous, the identities are known to the blog administrator.

So lprent should know which authors and posts may not be covered by his own authorisation statement, if any. He said:

So if you think that there are issues to do with how we have done this, you now have between now and prior to the start of 20th of June 2014 to comment in this post and only this post.

I can’t comment on his post, I’m currently banned from commenting at The Standard, but lprent will see this post. He could clarify by stating that any post at The Standard by anyone or on behalf of anyone associated with a candidate or party campaign will have it’s own authorisation notice.

Key on possible election alliances

John Key talked to Newstalk ZB’s Leighton Smith today about possible alliances with other parties.

Leighton Smith: The post election alliances, the parties you’re prepared to work with, when are you going to announce that and let’s do it now.

John Key: So what we did at the start of the year, which is probably more than anyone else has done, we sat  there and we said look, we’ve got some parties we can work with, we’ve worked well with United, Act and the Maori Party over the last six years and we’re happy to work with them again in the future.

We think we could work with the Conservatives if they make it, and we’d be prepared to have discussions with Winston Peters if he wanted to.

So that sort of gives people an indication of who we can and who we can’t work with.

You know what sort of accommodations we may or may not so, look we’ll make some decisions on that a bit nearer the time.

Obviously the particular issues are Epsom when it comes to Act, Ohariu when it comes to United, and whether we find some way of accommodation Colin Craig

Leighton Smith: It would appear as far as Colin Craig is concerned that you’ve run out of options…

John Key: Not necessarily…

Leighton Smith: …according to Mark Mitchell…

John Key: yeah, yeah well no I don’t think that’s right, in the end, National obviously believes that we’re the best party to be the governing party of this country, and MMP’s a system that causes, that forces you to find coalitions.

So you know in the end New Zealand’s got a chance to test that out in 2011. What they said overwhelmingly like it or not was that they wanted to keep that system and it’s a system that drives coalitions.

So what I’ve tried to do and am keen to do is treat the electorate with some maturity and respect and say look rather than play games here’s roughly the combinations and you guys decide.

Now when it comes to the Conservatives, they’re in a bit of a different position to United and Act. You’ve got to remember both of those parties won their seat in their own right at times where National pretty heavily contested those seats. That’s not the case with the Conservatives but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t find a way through but I wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that we would.

Leighton Smith: When you say they won their seats where National contested them fairly heavily, you’re talking about about the original time or…

John Key: Yep. yeah I mean I accept that in 2011 we gave a very strong signal in Epsom for people to give their electorate vote to John Banks and the act Party and their party vote to National. Similarly in Wellington and Ohariu the same thing with United a pretty clear sort of view.

But I mean at the end of the day there’s nothing new about this, you hear David Cunliffe saying oh somehow there’s something odd about this. Well go back and trace  the history of it. Labour’s done the same thing with Alliance, they did the same thing with the Greens. there’s nothing new and in fact you’ve got you know Mana doing that with that Internet crowd at the moment.

Leighton Smith: So where would you think if there was a hole for Mr Craig, where would it most likely be?

John Key: Ah well I don’t honestly know because I haven’t really thought about it in great detail, but what I would say is look, in the end if we had to try and do some sort of deal, um then I’m sure we could find one, because in the end if, if, any member of our caucus will want the Government, National to be a part of the Government,  and in the end if that is what was required I’m sure they’d do it.

But I just wouldn’t jump to conclusions there because we’re a long way away from that position really with the Conservatives.

Leighton Smith: Right, but we’re not that far away, you are starting to run out of, well getting close to the wire…

John Key: Yeah we’re ninety nine days…

Leighton Smith: …it’s not that long, it’ll be gone in a flash.

John Key: Correct. But I mean don’t forget we’re in the position where we’re saying that. Labour on the other hand is saying well, you know, we’re going to work with Mana and Internet or whatever, um, Winston won’t tell you who he’ll work with and who he won’t, so  half the political parties are going to talk to you after the election, half of them will try and tell you one thing and do another, at least we’re going to be transparent.

So look, before the, well and truly before people are going to go to the polls they’ll have a sense of what we think makes sense.

Leighton Smith: Let me ask a question that’s been asked many times before and there’s a standard answer but, but, the possible combination of National and Labour. Is there any set of circumstances you could envisage where that could happen?

John Key: Well it’s happened in Germany, that’s ultimately…

Leighton Smith: I mean here though.

John Key: Yeah I know. Ah well I think no, um, but you look in a lot of ways, ah at times in the  history of the two parties they’ve been more similar, you know National’s been centre right and Labour’s been centre left.

This election is actually very unusual because you’ve got the Labour Party tracking a long way left and us staying very much in the centre, but I just don’t see that happening.

I think New Zealanders fundamentally want to have a choice, and I think they’d rather, they will probably, they’ve had a very canny way of making sure that there’ve been plenty of alternatives, or at least some alternatives to the um, ah, you know for the part that they’ve wanted to govern.

Leighton Smith: Just briefly cover this off for me. The election’s over. National is the biggest party with the most votes, marginally short of being able to pull together a coalition naturally, simply. We’re now into negotiations.

John Key: And that’s a very real possibility.

Leighton Smith: You’ve got, and you’ve got one or two parties that are sitting there, the mini parties that are sitting there hunting for the best deal that they get. Is it a case of government at any price? Or could you imagine a situation, literally imagine a situation where you would say no we’re not paying, we’re not going that far, we’re not paying that penalty. For instance let’s say that um Winston  wanted a Prime Ministerial sharing.

John Key: Ah yes, so there’d certainly be circumstances  where we’d just say no. And I think actually it’s be in the interests of the National Party to say no, because in reality if you did a deal that was so toxic that at the end of that three year period you unwound what I think has been the good work we’ve done in the last six years, ah then I think you’re failing the country and you’re failing your supporters.

For me it’s not Government at any price, um and I don’t think it’s practical to be starting to say well the Prime Ministership is something that we share around a bit like, you know, they player of the day.

Audio/video.

 

Poll volatility

The latest Roy Morgan poll continues a ‘trend’ of volatility for National and Greens this year and a lack of progress for Labour.

Roy Morgan polls so far this year:

National 43.5 47.0 48.0 48.5 45.5 43.0 48.5 42.5
Labour 33.5 33.0 30.0 30.5 31.5 32.0 28.5 31.0
Greens 12.5 11.0 12.0 10.5 14.0 13.0 11.5 14.5
NZ First 4.0 4.5 5.5 4.5 3.5 5.5 5.5 6.0
Conservative 2.5 1.5 1.0 2.5 1.5 2.5 2.0 0.5
Internet Party 0.5 1.0 1.5
Maori Party 2.0 1.5 0.5 1.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 1.0
Mana Party ^ 1.0 1.0 0.5 ^ 0.5 1.0 1.0
ACT ^ ^ 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5
United Future 0.5 ^ 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.0 0.5

Rounded to 0.5
^ is less than 0.5

Party summaries with predicted election support range based on current performance:

National

This is the lowest they have been this year but dropped below this six times last year, with a lowest of 40.5 (April) and a peak of 51 (July).

This volatility suggests a significant number of voters are soft supporters of National, sometimes. National have benefited from a variable and often disappointing performance by Labour but their fold on power looks precarious.

Predicted election range 40-50

Labour

Labour have bounced back from a worrying 28.5 in the last poll but at 31 are still failing to impress. Last year’s low was 29 (July) and they peaked at 37 for two consecutive polls in September when Cunliffe took over leadership. Since then they have dropped to mostly low thirties.

While National (and Greens) fluctuate Labour have been more consistent but this is not where they want to be in the polls, totally reliant on Greens,  probably also reliant on NZ First and possibly also needing any mix of of Mana, Internet Party and Maori party.

Predicted election range 25-35

Greens

Greens are back to their peak, last reached in November last year but they got to 14 in March. They should be happy with this and look well prepared for the election. Their low last year was 10 in July.

They are benefiting in polls from Labour’s weaknesses but they are relying on Labour to do well enough to give them their first shot at being in Government.

Predicted election range 10-15

NZ First

NZ First are looking good for making the threshold this election. Last year they ranged from 3 (several times) to 6.5 (August) but in the past have done better in elections than polls. They are benefiting from Labour’s weaknesses and National’s missteps.

Predicted election range 5-10

Internet Party

The Internet Party keep nudging up in the third poll and will be satisfied with this progress. The big questions are how much they will climb to and what effect any arrangement with Mana may have. It’s difficult to predict how much big money and a big presence of someone who can’t stand for election will end up impacting.

Predicted election range 0-5

Maori Party

Last year’s range was 0.5 (January) to 2.5 (February and March), this year they have been 0.5 to 2.

The Maori Party has never needed to worry about party vote in the past, they have always got more seats than their proportional allocation by winning electorates. This will be much harder for them this year with some predicting difficulty winning any of them. At least one electorate looks likely but this may bring their party vote into play for the first time. Will they seek party votes?

Predicted election range 1-3

Mana Party

Mana have mostly been 0.5 or 1 this year and last but got to 1.5 in July and dipped below 0.25 this March.

Hone Harawira may or may not be challenged strongly by Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau. If he retains his electorate they are in.  otherwise everything is up in the air depending on what arrangement they may come to with the Internet Party.

Predicted election range – depends on any arrangement they may make with the Internet Party.

ACT

ACT are virtually a new party this year. They have struggled between 0 and 1 last year and so far this year. They have intellectual rather than charismatic leadership so may have to rely on retaining Epsom with a new and relatively unknown candidate. They will have to find something different to impress beyond that.

Predicted election range 0.5-1

UnitedFuture

United Future have polled 0 to 0.5 last year and so far this year apart from one blip to 1 in March last year. Most of their election efforts will go in to retaining Ohariu which Peter Dunne might manage to pull off but he has had a difficult term. Party support doesn’t look like changing unless they can change dramatically and look like something other than Dunne.

Predicted election range 0.5-1

Conservative Party

Conservatives should be worried about the last poll dropping to 0.5 although they have been there before, in January and September last year. They have reached 2.5 several times including two polls ago.

Colin Craig’s dithering over what electorate to contest, his apparent concession that they need to get 5% and the lack of any connection with National makes their election looking likely to be another expensive folly. Money may pull something out of the hat but there’s no sign of magic yet.

Predicted election range 0.5-3

Source (PDF)

Can the economy be fixed?

Josie Pagani asks Has National fixed the economy yet? and links to a website so she has gone to a bit of cost and effort to make a point:

http://www.hasnationalfixedtheeconomyyet.com/

Not surprisingly the answer is

NO.

The economy will never be fixed, especially using Josie’s parameters.

“Catching up to Australia” is unlikely to happen (as unlikely as Dunedin catching up on Auckland) unless Australia has a major crash that we avoid, and that’s also unlikely because our trade and our economy are very reliant on theirs.

However there are many indicators suggesting National has the economy on track to improvement.

South Island leads national recovery

A swell of optimism from the South Island is expected to drive record business activity throughout New Zealand this year, the ANZ’s quarterly Business Micro Scope survey of small firms says.

Editorial: Economy focus for election year

All indicators and experts are pointing to a boomer year for the New Zealand economy in 2014 which, after about five years of gloom, cannot come a moment too soon.

Yesterday, HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said the bank was predicting New Zealand would be the “rock star” economy this year, with growth outstripping most developed countries around the world.

While the upturn is being driven largely by the Christchurch reconstruction boom and high dairy prices, as opposed to widespread growth across a range of sectors, economic growth will shape the political conversation this election year.

The timing could not be any better for the National-led Government. Prime Minister John Key will play on his party’s credentials as a sound financial manager, pointing to the flourishing economy as the fruit of its firm hand, clear eyes and sensible policy. National will tell voters that a Labour/Greens Government would put all that at risk. It’s a compelling argument for middle New Zealand voters concerned primarily about pocket book issues.

The big question this election year is what impact a Labour-Green-Mana government would have on the economy compared to how it’s likely to go if National remain in charge. It’s a given that Labour-Green-Mana would increase government spending more, possibly substantially. It’s also likely they would increase taxes more.

Despite Josie’s effort to prove her leftish credentials she is fighting an uphill battle taking National on with the economy.

Likewise Labour, who have to somehow convince voters they can manage the economy better than National despite having high spending coalition partners Greens and Mana.

National may have some problems if they get too close to kooky Colin Craig but the Conservatives don’t appear to be a threat to the economy.

Which the voters prefer between National (and maybe Act, United Future and Conservatives) or Labour and Greens (plus maybe Mana) is this year’s election’s big question. If NZ First make the threshold they could go either way – but while Winston Peters may be a threat to coalition stability he is not seen as much as an economic threat.

Is the economy fixed yet? Is the weather fixed yet?

It looks like the sun is starting to shine on our economy. Talking up a storm on that will be difficult for Labour.

Election prediction 2014 #1

My current election predictions:

  • National 50-59
  • Labour 31-40
  • Greens 10-18
  • NZ First 0-7
  • Maori Party 1-3
  • Mana Party 1-2
  • United Future 0-1
  • Act Party 0-2
  • Conservative Party 0-1

This is based on what is know at the start of the year, with a long time until the election and much unknown.

If Labour and Greens move it’s likely to be in opposite directions as vote tends to move from one to the other.

NZ First is make or break on making the 5% threshold.

Act need to come up with a credible Epsom candidate to make 1 and a credible list to rise above that.

On current polling the Conservative Party don’t look like making 5% but there are indications and rumours National may help then get an electorate seat.

The Civilian Party is currently an unknown but could add some interest.

Weak Mayoral contests

Two features of the local body elections were almost certainly closely related.:

  • Weak candidates for many mayoralties
  • Record low voter turnout.

Many of the city mayoral contests featured incumbents with weak opposition.

Auckland

Len Brown’s main competitor was an always unlikely John Palino. Brown wasn’t strongly supported but Palino didn’t get close. Brown ended up getting 162,675 votes to Palino’s 107,672 in a record low turnout of 32%.

In 2010 Brown got 237,487 votes and his nearest rival John Banks lost with more votes then – 171,542 – than Brown won with this time.

Total 2010 votes 487,703 compared to 340,339 this year.

Wellington

One of the few close contests but incumbent Celia Wade-Brown, generally regarded as having had a very mediocre term, beat John Morrison after an uninspiring and flawed campaign. Wellington bucked the trend with an increased turnout of 69,987 compared to 54,374 in 2010.

Christchurch

There was no incumbent standing in Christchurch but ex MP Lianne Dalziel was widely expected to win easily, which she did with 71% of the vote. Turnout was 103,250 compared to  131,409 in 2010.

Dunedin

Incumbent Dave Cull was easily returned as expected, but with 20% fewer votes than he got in 2010. The overall voting rate dropped from 52% to 42%.

It is significant that Wellington was the only city with a close contest and number of votes increased there. The other main centres had weak contests and poor voting numbers.

It would appear from this that a major factor in low voter interest in local body elections is low interest in quality candidates.

How can better candidates be encouraged to stand? Scandals like Len Brown in Auckland will hardly encourage more interest.

Local body politics “so damn tedious”

Newstalk ZB’s chief political reporter Felix Marwick is less than impressed with the local body elections –  Political Report: Local body election so damn tedious

The reason people don’t give a damn about local body politics is probably because it’s so damn tedious and so damn nebulous. It appears, on the surface, to be a succession of beige candidates with beige ideals. Figuring out exactly what they stand for is a task beyond us mere mortals.

I don’t mean to dump on those who’ve taken the time to put themselves forward for office. It’s a thankless task and they deserve respect for giving it a go. But for whatever reason, local body politics has all the appearance of being dull, distant, and divorced from the realities of most peoples’ lives.

Yes, mostly thankless. And even more tedious than the national politics that Felix usually reports on.

In the last Local Body elections my sentiments were similar to Felix’s, so I decided to do something about it.

Ironically I campaigned on making local body politics more relevant for people, but no one was listening.

Actually some people did listen and want to do something about it with me, so we will. For those who can be bothered engaging.

The Bryce Edwards Effect?

Dunedin based national political commentator Bryce Edwards wrote a very disparaging column about the dismal turnout in local body elections in the NZ Herald – Dr Bryce Edwards: Cancel the elections and start again?

Authorities keep telling us of our duty to vote in the local government elections. They haven’t made a very compelling case, and so far the public have responded to this hectoring with an electoral shrug of the shoulders. Voter turnout across the country looks to be the lowest in living memory. Perhaps that’s a good thing. It sends a very strong message that the system is broken.

Why should voters take the election seriously when the authorities themselves don’t?

Edwards suggested that boycotts and a non-vote of no confidence might be appropriate.

In other countries there would be calls for boycotts. In fact there’s probably a case for cancelling this election and starting again.

We’re always being patronised with the cliché that “if you don’t vote you can’t complain”. That’s never made sense, but for this current dysfunctional election, it’s perhaps more the case that “if you do choose to vote, then you’re complicit in propping up this broken system”.

That was on Sunday. Here is a chart of voter returns for Dunedin.

Note the timing of a dramatic upsurge in votes – about the time the weekend’s voting will have made it’s way through the post to the vote counters.

Voting returns Oct 10Sunday was 6-Oct.

Could that be called The Bryce Edwards Effect?

Edwards favours political party involvement in local body elections, he prefers presidential style national politics to strong local political action. I’m much more in favour of localism and have been promoting local involvement and engagement.

At the same time Edwards was suggesting voting boycotts I posted Why vote? (5-Oct) and Dunedin needs growth and positive change – vote for it! (6-Oct) and Time to vote for Your Dunedin (7-Oct) and Effective Dunedin protest vote (8-Oct).

Note when the voting surge happened.

Did either of us affect the voter surge? I doubt it, but I’m an opportunist for making points.

I’m going to have to prove my case for far better local democracy and doing democracy better in Dunedin during the coming local body term. I’m up for it.

Lies and the Dunedin mayoralty

In a televised mayoral forum current mayor Dave Cull accused me or councillors of lying about claims of Greater Dunedin councillors working together.

I believe the evidence shows that Cull is trying to blatantly mislead the public about his Greater Dunedin ‘group’, about their motives and what they have done during the current term – in other words, he appears to be the one who is lying.

Dave Gooselink asked the forum:

To Dave Cull firstly, you’re leading the Greater Dunedin team in council and also standing in this election, do you think it would be good for council to be under the majority control of one political grouping?

Dave Cull:

I need to make it clear that Greater Dunedin’s only purpose is to get good people on to council, we don’t have a role the rest of the time, we don’t exercise a role the rest of the time, this term I’ve run a united collegial council inclusive of everyone, and the ticket we run on is for the election and not for the term.

This term, after one term as councillor, Cull was elected mayor standing for Greater Dunedin. That’s democracy. But it’s worth noting that his Greater Dunedin colleague Chris Staynes was appointed deputy mayor after one term as councillor, ahead of councillors with far more experience.

The Greater Dunedin website home page contradicts itself and Cull.

Greater Dunedin is not a political party and our elected councillors are not bound to vote together.  They are free to vote according to their own best judgement on each Council issue.  They do, however, work cooperatively to make the best decisions for the future of the city.

That clearly states they work cooperatively.

Our candidates see six key priorities for the city as we head into the next trienniun.

And that spells out common policies. Ironically their first priority is contradicted by their

We’re focused on engaging with residents proactively, openly and transparent.

Dave Cull has blogged on the ODT election page: Dave Cull: Only the best is good enough

In the 2007 elections I came onto Council with fellow Greater Dunedin candidates Kate Wilson and Chris Staynes.

We three were the only new Councillors elected. In the 2010 elections, when I became Mayor, Jinty MacTavish and Richard Thomson, again Greater Dunedin candidates, were the only new faces.

During this term, all five of us have delivered on the promises we made in 2010: financial prudence, more transparency, constrained rate rises, controlled debt, accountability, a vision of a sustainable city: the list goes on.

We have led the Council in turning around the way it operates.

The collective ‘we’ being prominent. ‘If it quacks like a party it’s a party.’

Back to the Dunedin Television forum. Hilary Calvert said:

I think it’s sort of an oxymoron to say that we’re standing on a ticket but once we get we will no longer have a ticket connecting is.

Either you’re a group, or you’re not a group, and if you support independent good people, who ever’s standing you want good people, they don’t support any of the rest of the people that are standing, they only support their ticket.

Cull:

They weren’t good enough.

Cull doesn’t think the rest of the candidates were good enough to be considered for his group. His blog post again:

It’s imperative that the current Greater Dunedin Councillors are all re-elected to maintain continuity of positive effort.

It is also critically important for the city, that the new faces around the table are the very best quality candidates available.

For the sake of Dunedin, please support Greater Dunedin candidates and our belief that only the best Councillors and candidates are good enough to guide our city forward.

If he is returned as mayor does that mean he will think no other councillors but his Greater Dunedin Councillors are good enough to be considered for the top jobs and most important committees?

Greater Dunedin’s sole purpose is to identify, promote and support good candidates onto Council.Greater Dunedin is promoting four new candidates for Council at this election: Mike Lord in the Mosgiel-Taieri Ward, and Irene Mosley, Letisha Nicholas and Ali Copeman in the Central Ward.

Each of them has carefully and thoughtfully signed up to Greater Dunedin’s principles of transparency, respect and a future-focused vision.

Each of them supports the progress made in this past term and the need to maintain the positive momentum.

Signed up to Greater Dunedin’s principles. Cull’s claim that ‘They are free to vote according to their own best judgement on each Council issue’ is totally at odds with published joint principles.

More from Cull at the forum:

I endorse these people because they’re good, it’s very difficult , It’s Greater Dunedin’s ambition to promote good people. It’s very difficult for people to get onto council. It is Greater Dunedin’s ambition to promote good people, to give them some profile, to give them a leg up into council.

After that, they’re independent.

Of course we consult with each other around the council table, decisions have to be made by a majority and you want to do it on the right grounds…

According to Greater Dunedin principles and policies?

…but that’s the end of it.

This all sounds duplicitous to me. They’re supposedly independent but they have common principles and they work together, and they owe their place in council to the ‘group’ that selected them and promoted them.

Why can’t they just be honest about what looks obvious? Why do they try claim something in one breath and deny it in the next?

I said next:

An outgoing councillor told me he’d seen Greater Dunedin caucusing in the current council..

Cull interjected:

That’s a lie in that case, because we don’t and never have.

Someone else closely involved with council confirmed with me that “confirm on number cases GD members  appear to frequent locations together that look like caucusing/meeting”. And yesterday yet another person said the same thing.

At the second of the televised forums candidate Andrew Whiley:

It was interesting at Opoho Church the other night [a council candidate forum] where one of the Greater Dunedin councillors turned around and said he looks forward to working with like minded people.

Cr Lee Vandervis:

They claim independence. They operate basically how the mayor wants them to, mostly in terms of voting.

They do vote individually on some items, especially some of them. There are several councillors, the deputy mayor would be a classic example, who I can’t ever remember voting against whatever the mayor said even if he was arguing the opposite the minute before.

Who is lying?

Should Dunedin have a mayor that accuses councillors of lying but is the one who seems to be deliberately misleading the public?

It’s worth repeating…

In the 2007 elections I came onto Council with fellow Greater Dunedin candidates Kate Wilson and Chris Staynes.

We three were the only new Councillors elected. In the 2010 elections, when I became Mayor, Jinty MacTavish and Richard Thomson, again Greater Dunedin candidates, were the only new faces.

This election Greater Dunedin is standing nine candidates. A majority in council is eight, with the mayor having the casting vote.

It should be noted that next term new rules take effect that give the mayor greater power:

(APNZ) Mayors throughout the country will become more powerful under new law changes set to come into action after October’s local elections. The changes will allow mayors to appoint their own deputies, set the structure of committees and appoint committee chairpeople.

I have asked on Dave Cull’s Facebook page:

Dave, can you pledge that if re-elected mayor that you will select a deputy mayor and committee chairs purely on merit without favour for your own group of councillors?

And please explain how this would work considering you have said:
“For the sake of Dunedin, please support Greater Dunedin candidates and our belief that only the best Councillors and candidates are good enough to guide our city forward.”

I await his openness and transparency.

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