Did the losers win the election?

There have been claims that the losers won the election and we now have a Government of losers. This is all nonsense of course, usually bleated by poor losers.

No won ‘won’ the election. No party has won an overall majority in an election ever under MMP (in New Zealand at least and I suspect everywhere in the world).

National formed a government in our first MMP election in 1996 after getting just 33.87% of the vote. They came closest to an overall majority in 2011 with 47.31%, and similarly in 2014 with 47.04.

The recently ousted National Government needed the support of other parties to get a majority – they successfully negotiated the numbers required to rule.

National were easily the most voted for party again this year but slipped back a bit. Here are the party results again:

  • National 1,152,075 votes, 44.45%, 56 seats
  • Labour 956,184 votes, 36.89%, 46 seats
  • NZ First 186,706 votes, 7.20%, 9 seats
  • Greens 162,443 votes, 6.27%, 8 seats
  • ACT 13,075 votes, 0.50%, 1 electorate seat

As we know Winston Peters led the post election negotiations and ended up allowing Labour to form a government with NZ First and Greens. This is completely acceptable under our rules.

MMP elections aren’t won, MMP governments are formed with a majority of willing parties.

A reasonable argument can be made that the party with the largest number of seats should have been the first to try and form a government. If we had a rule like this it would take away some of the uncertainty, game playing and dog wagging by small tails.

A reasonable question could also be asked as to why National didn’t take control of the negotiations straight after the election, and also why Labour didn’t also play a more prominent role. The two top dogs rolled over and let their tails be tweaked.

Whatever, we have what we have, a Labour-NZ-First-Green government who between them have 63 seats, a clear majority.

It could be said that Labour were awarded the winner’s prize by Winston Peters. This was a bizarre way of announcing the outcome of the negotiations, but Labour and the Greens allowed it to happen that way.

James Shaw sounded like he thought the Greens were the biggest winners, even though they were disrespected by Peters in negotiations and in his announcement, and not allowed any ministers in Cabinet.

However this will be the biggest role the Greens will play in a government ever in their existence, with three ministers outside cabinet. Any legislation Peters and Labour want to pass will need Green approval, unless National supports it.

In his speech after losing the Winston contest Bill English emphasised that National had clearly won the most support and seats, but he didn’t claim that National had won the election. He conceded governance with in a dignified manner, and won quite a bit of dignity and respect for what he had achieved, or how he hadn’t quite achieved it.

The country could well be a winner with this result. In many respects things are going well ion New Zealand, our economy is one of the healthiest in the the world. This provides a good platform for the incoming government.

National promised to address some of the pressing issues, in particular housing, inequality and crime. They had already worked to try to improve on the problems we face as a country.

Labour and NZ First and the Greens promise to do more, and if they do it well then the country will have won, or at least we will have improved our position, life and governance are ongoing challenges.

Sure there are some risks if the new government tries things that don’t work out – there is no difference to the risks for government than in the past.

No one wins from being pessimistic, that just drags you down. If there is too much pessimism and despondency it drags communities and countries down.

Prime Minister election Jacinda Ardern says she will lead a government for all New Zealanders. I think she and her fellow leaders will do what they think is best, for individual problems and for the country as a whole.

In any population there will always be some losers, that can’t be avoided. But a good government will minimise it, and it will do what it thinks is best to maximise opportunities and well being for the majority.

If we wish them well, and it they do well, then most of us will be winners, and we collectively will be winners.

There were no winners from the election. A government was formed from the election results according to our rules.

Losers whinge.

We will all win by doing things better, and that will be helped by hope, optimism and hard work.

It’s our government. It’s our country. We all play an important part. We should all play to succeed.

Bill English speaks

The probable soon to be ex-Prime Minister, Bill English, is giving a media conference.

Seems fairly relaxed in his speech. Thanks the usual.

From here he says the National Party will regroup.

Asked if he feels robbed he says it is MMP but smaller parties have the opportunity to form a government.

Did NZ First asked for too much? He avoids answering that directly, just says he thought they proposed a good robust governing arrangement an thinks would have been a successful government.

He says they had satisfactory negotiations.

Moral authority? National were given an opportunity but it’s about being able to form a government.

Humble and gracious, and no sign of bitterness. I think the result wasn’t unexpected to National.

He has not yet decided what he will do about leadership. Far too soon to jump. No rush for National, they are best to take there time and do any leadership change (I expect it will happen) properly rather than hurriedly.

 

Bitterness under the bus

Nicky guided a big bus over Whale Oil in 2014, and John key and National walked away. Cameron Slater is still bitter in a big way.

Slater used to promote politics done as dirty as possible, and tried to drive a few buses over others – most notably Len Brown immediately after the 2013 mayoral election, trying to upset a democratic result, and also Colin Craig in 2015. Slater seemed to revel in doing maximum damage and seem to care nothing about destroying reputations and careers both as a game and as a mercenary.

But he is not so keen when on the receiving end – the Whale has been wailing every since Nicky Hager bussed him, and since he was left in the dust by National.

His bitterness has been apparent in the recent election campaign, wishing disaster on National and on Bill English and National MPs and staff.

And he still holds a bus sized grudge over John Key deserting him.

Yesterday he posted: No hard feelings John, but no one gives a stuff what you think anymore

That’s kind of ironic, given how many stuffs are given to what Slater thinks now.

John Key’s phone must have stopped ringing, so he’s decided to come out and offer up his advice for coalition negotiations.

Key was opening of a new Trading Room at the Business School at the University of Canterbury and was asked. He didn’t write multiple blog posts every day.

What a dickhead. He saw this coming and bolted for the door that’s how much he cared about the situation. Now he has the temerity to offer up his opinion.

Piss off. He quit, that means STFU.

No it doesn’t, it means he is free to do and say what he likes.

We don’t care anymore what he thinks. What an attention seeking effwit…phone stopped ringing eh John?

No hard feelings, eh?

Sounds very much like projection of Slater’s on situation . He seems to hate that his phone stopped ringing three years ago, and still holds a grudge.

Comments and ticks were carefully scathing of Slater.

Christie’s comment was strongly supported:

He was opening the new Business School at Canterbury University. His comments were made probably in response to a journalist asking if he was in touch with Bill English. My belief is that he resigned when he did for the reasons he stated – particularly when there was another election coming up.

Bill English’s family have been treated with some respect by the media, but John Key’s kids were always fair game. Perhaps he felt – like many of us did – that a local rapper, being paid public money, writing a song about raping his daughter was a bit too much for him. Who could blame him? I don’t blame him for resigning – I just wish he hadn’t.

George Carter’s too:

Whether it was part of a speech or in a response to a journalist his point is fairly light and non intrusive. We’ve heard far more from other ex-PM’s and MP’s so i’m not sure why you’re so dismissive of his comments.

SpanishBride joined the wailing in response:

Probably because when John Key threw him under the bus after we were hacked and our private e-mails turned into a book for profit by Nicky Hager after working with the criminal Rawshark, John Key sent a message to him saying “No hard feelings.”

I suspect she misinterprets what “no hard feelings” meant there.

Wanarunna sort of supported the post:

Quite understand Cam’s reaction here. People don’t have to agree with it, and I don’t, but hey, this is Cam’s blog where Cam says what Cam thinks. Sometimes when I read comments on this blog I get the impression that some people think that Cam speaks for the Whaleoil Community (if there is such a thing), and if he says something they don’t agree with, then somehow he has it wrong. No, he’s just seeing things from his perspective, not yours.

A response to that resulted in a thinly veiled threat from Slater…

WhaleOilNoHardFeelings

…but those two responses have now disappeared.

Such is the thin skin and censorship at Whale Oil. Slater has obviously got hard feelings after three years of being belted by a bus, and shows a lack of hardness when the political booting is from the other foot.

His attacks on Key and English and National are petty and largely impotent.

Slater claimed that National without his support would tank, and he predicted them polling in the thirties. One of the more notable outcomes of the election was how well National’s support held up in the mid forties, unprecedented in attempting to win a fourth term.

They seem to be managing quite well without Slater’s dirty politics.

Whale Oil survives as a popular niche blog, but not as a political player of any importance.

Sssshhh, don’t tell anyone

NZH: Winston Peters in secret one-on-one meetings with National leader Bill English and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern tonight

NZ First leader Winston Peters is holding secret one on one meetings with National leader Bill English and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern tonight, straight after the NZ First board meeting packed up with no decision made.

The Herald saw Peters meet with English almost immediately after the NZ First board left.

English was on his own without staff or any of his negotiating team. Peters was also believed to be alone – his chief of staff was not in the room.

The Herald saw English leave soon after 6pm, after about half an hour in the room.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has also just left the room after meeting Peters.

The secrecy was such that Ardern took a different route than usual to get to the room which bypassed any media.

Clarifying a few matters? Or playing one off against the other? Secret meetings invite speculation.

Newshub:  Winston Peters holds secret meetings

National leader Bill English confirmed to Newshub he met with Mr Peters. Ms Ardern was seen rushing away from Parliament.

“I can confirm I met with Mr Peters, but I won’t be commenting on the contents of that meeting,” he said.

Asked what he could tell New Zealanders about the next steps to a government, Mr English replied: “We’ll let you know”.

 

Negotiations, decisions could be some time yet

NZ First party discussions on who to form a government with will continue into today, and even when they make a decision it could still take time from then to know what the outcome is.

There seemed to be no great urgency to get things under way yesterday morning as NZ First MPs and board members trickled into Wellington. They were reported to start meeting at 10.30 am.

Late yesterday afternoon Winston Peters issued a brief statement:

The New Zealand First Board and Members of Parliament are continuing with their discussions around post-election negotiations.

It is expected the meeting will go on for several more hours.

Later advice was given that things wouldn’t be complete on Monday.

NZH: More talks ahead as NZ First decides on government

The nine NZ First caucus members and 14 board members were sequestered away for the day getting meals taken into them rather than leaving for food. The meeting broke soon after 6pm and the board left through a back entrance. Only NZ First MP Shane Jones left past the waiting media, saying they were going to get dinner.

…after 6pm media were told there would be no public statements and the board would return again this morning.

Peters said little during the day and would not confirm whether his discussions with one party were more advanced than another. He did confirm English was correct that he had not discussed ministerial portfolios in negotiations.

He has also said the board and caucus were yet to consider what form of government NZ First would settle on – from the cross benches to a full coalition.

Although NZ First leader Winston Peters said he expected to announce NZ First’s intentions as soon as possible after that board meeting, English said that even if NZ First made its decision on which side to go with there would have to be further negotiations before a final deal and government was settled on.

So one of Peters’ assurances, that a decision may be made by the end of this week, may be his most accurate, albeit typically vague.

And that may not be the end of it. English:

“They won’t be looking at completed agreements because there are still a number of issues related to forming a government that have not yet been dealt with. The policy discussion was completed but there is not yet an agreement including the type of government, ministerial positions to put to our caucus or party board.”

He said working out those final details should not take long although if NZ First continued to negotiate with both sides on those issues it could be more difficult because of the added “complexity” on the Labour side because of the inclusion of the Green Party.

The Greens appear to be yet to take any options to the party for consideration.

The Green Party has also again held off holding its Special General Meeting to seek 75 per cent approval from about 150 delegates for its deal with Labour. It has been ready to hold that meeting for days.

If the delegates don’t reach agreement it may have to go to all party members for consultation and making a decision, if one can be made. There may be some concerns over getting into a governing arrangement when NZ First seem to have so much sway.

Earlier, Peters had told Newstalk ZB it was a complex decision and all options for a government formation were still on the table – from the cross benches to a full coalition. He wanted the party to decide based on policy gains rather than ministerial roles.

He said NZ First had worked over the weekend to firm up the precise agreements with National and Labour, and contact had been “reasonably extensive”.

So negotiations were nowhere near complete by Thursday, the original deadline indicated by Peters.

I don’t care how long they take, but media seem to be getting increasingly frustrated with being strung along without getting any stories of substance to report on.

What the Prime Minister has been doing

This is what is known about what the acting Prime Minister Bill English has been doing this week.

There are other parties, and they’re saying little

While Winston Peters holds centre stage day after day National and Labour are saying as little as possible about ongoing negotiations.

James Shaw keeps highlighting how weak he and the Greens are.

Stuff: Winston Peters will take both options to the NZ First board after Thursday night

Labour’s Jacinda Ardern did not stop to talk to media on her way to or from her team’s last meeting of the day with NZ First.

On the way into the 6.30pm meeting she said she still had “plenty of stamina” while walking past reporters.

On her way out of the meeting she kept her eyes averted and did not answer any questions.

After past meetings Ardern has said things are going very well and she is absolutely positive etc but the Labour team haven’t looked filled with glee or confidence.

James Shaw and the Greens seem to have resigned themselves to relying on Labour to negotiate for them.

Peters has ruled out including the Greens in partnership talks, forcing Shaw and his team to negotiate with Labour in parallel and in isolation to NZ First negotiations.

As Government talks enter into their fourth day, Shaw emerged from a two-hour long meeting with Labour and said he was confident he could trust Labour would argue a fair deal on their behalf.

“Jacinda made fairness one of her principle values in the campaign, I’ve known her a number of years and, I said this before the election, I trust her and she seems to be doing a good job of it.

“It’s got to be a stable and responsible Government that’s going to go the full distance in the national interest. Labour are working very hard on ensuring that that happens. That’s of paramount concern to all of us,” he said.

Shaw said he was confident he would be happy with the deal Labour eventually presented to them, but all the partners had to be “pretty sure” of their Government’s direction to ensure stability.

This sounds very vague and weak from Shaw. If they can’t stand up to Peters and insist on being included before a government is set up how confident can anyone be of them playing a meaningful part in a government?

It was suggested yesterday that the greens may be having a special general meeting last night. Perhaps that was to get party approval to hand their future totally over to Labour.

Bill English and the National negotiators have found a route to and from the meetings that avoids media contact. National are not revealing anything about the negotiations.

English has even worked out a route to the second floor Beehive room where talks are being held that neatly avoids the media, so there is no chance of upstaging Peters on his many media standups on his way to and from the Beehive.

From Stuff: Winston Peters says he’s going to change New Zealand – where is his mandate?

The two major parties have given Peters the run of the Beehive while Bill English and Jacinda Ardern keep a low profile to avoid upsetting the famously capricious NZ First leader.

So fearful are both major parties of losing the upper hand in the negotiations they’ve agreed to blanket silence while Peters apparently has free licence to talk.

Peters has claimed everything is confidential but keeps talking to the media.

English and Ardern are saying as little as possible.

Shaw just looks hapless. The Greens becoming the heart of a new progressive government looks a forlorn ideal now.

Winston Peters is grandstanding his way towards what he hopes will be a grand finale to his political career.

The others are looking like grovellers, especially Shaw.

The possibility of a monster Opposition

There seems to be a reasonable chance that NZ first will choose to form a government with Labour and the Greens. This would mean that National would be an unusually large opposition party. Depending on how they operated this could make things difficult for three smaller parties in government.

Emma Espiner at The Spinoff: National: the Opposition from Hell

Let’s imagine Peters decides to hitch his wagon to the movement for change and Bill English becomes Leader of the Opposition.

Resourcing for research units, parliamentary funding and select committees are all allocated on a proportional basis. This gives National the opportunity to coalesce around the Opposition benches with a level of power and influence we’ve not seen before – if they can remain unified.

If National go into opposition a big question will be whether English remains as leader, and if he doesn’t whether National will be united and cohesive, or whether they go through a period of division and turmoil.

We’ve come to expect a period of destabilisation within the unlucky major party who doesn’t get to form the Government. Should we expect more of the same from National if they get booted off the front benches?

No.

Not because National are intrinsically more stable or less prone to backstabbing and eye gouging than Labour – on that front you just need to ask Bill English what the aftermath of 2002 was like – but because, united, they could make things so difficult for a ‘progressive’ alliance in Government and they will relish the opportunity to make life hell for the NZ First/Labour/Green coalition.

It must privately (or not so privately) rankle some National MPs when people genuinely believe they set out to enter politics specifically to make life harder for our poorest, brownest and least rural folks.

There must be a temptation to chuck things like the housing (not) crisis, child poverty and Pike River at someone else and say “Fine. You have a go, I’ve had a guts full.”

There could be some of that sort of temptation. National backbenchers in particular could see better prospects for their political futures if their party has three years in Opposition, cleans out long standing MPs, making room for others to rise more rapidly through the ranks.

If this transpires and National goes into Opposition, we will see a Monster Opposition – 56 seats – think what that will look like and even sound like – the debating chamber is small, your opponents close, and 56 roaring MPs facing new Labour and Green Ministers will be genuinely testing.

Of course that will be heightened by the power of numbers in Question Time. Questions are allocated on a proportional basis too – increasing the number of genuine opposition questions and recucing the number of patsies from Government-friendly MPs.

Same goes for select committees – proportionality rules so National’s numbers will be very strong, allowing them to change and stall legislation, perhaps on crucial bills.

That’s an interesting point.

It may come down to how united National can be in Opposition, compared to how united a three party government that includes Winston Peters and the Greens can be – and whether Jacinda Ardern can manage both her Labour caucus and the Government with peters intent on creating a legacy with his proposed economic and social reforms.

Confused messages from Peters

I get why Winston Peters doesn’t want to start coalition negotiations until the final results are known, that makes sense. But Peters is sending out some confused messages.

From Stuff: NZ First talks with National, Labour begin

Peters has also said there’s no guarantee the result of the special votes will even be known on Saturday, which could further delay negotiations…

“They were running out of ballot papers on election day and a whole lot of people have been misinformed about their rights and I want to know that they are capable of completing the count properly by 2pm on Saturday.”

Is he just waffling aimlessly, or is he indicating a possibility he won’t accept the final result tomorrow?

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said they were well on track to meet the Saturday deadline.

That is the deadline for the final results, but they could be subject to judicial review.

…though it wouldn’t change his self-imposed deadline of October 12 for making a decision.

That suggests Peters will still accept the results tomorrow. But his deadline of 12 October is questionable – negotiations are not all about him.

Jacinda Ardern says it’s “absolutely possible” they can do a deal in five days.

Bill English has said that five days for negotiating and organising the structure of a new government is very tight. He’s right.

There have been some suggestions that Peters may have already made up his mind what he will do.

But if he decides to go with National it still depends on what National will agree to how they need to negotiate and decide.

If Peters decides to go with Labour and the Greens that could take even longer. NZ First will negotiate with Labour, and then either NZ First or Labour or both will need to negotiate with the Greens. And the Greens will then need tome to consult with their membership before making any decision.

Unless a back room deal has already been made then I wouldn’t bank on a final decision by next Thursday.

Environmentalists lobby incoming government

An open letter has been sent to sent to Bill English,  Jacinda Ardern, James Shaw and Winston Peters from environmental groups and lobbyists including Forest and Bird, Greenpeace New Zealand, WWF New Zealand and Fish & Game New Zealand.

It’s not very open, I can’t find a copy online, but NZ Herald reports: Leading environmentalists’ plea to the next Government

“A winner in this year’s election was the New Zealand environment. It featured as a bigger concern amongst the electorate than ever before. All of you through your party manifestos made commitments to improve the state of our environment. We congratulate you for those promises.”

It says there must be a more structured and transparent approach to tackling the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.

“New Zealand’s emissions have continued to climb and we need an ambitious plan on how to reduce them. “

They call for a new law to establish a statutory carbon budgeting process overseen by an independent commission to plan, monitor and report on the transition to “net zero by 2050”.

“Anything less betrays this and future generations.”

The letter says a key measure of environmental success will be ecologically healthy fresh waters which New Zealanders are able to swim in.

It also states the unique species of New Zealand are “the jewels in the crown of our national identity” and calls for stronger emphasis on conservation.

Increasing the Department of Conservation’s core budget must be a key component in that strategy, the letter says.

Lobbying was in full swing during the election campaign, and continues as we wait for parties to work out who is going to form a government.