A vote for the Workers Party is a vote for the Workers Party

So the commentators are all toeing the Labour Party line that “a vote for the Workers Party (or RAM or Alliance) is a vote for National”; first the The CWG, then Steve from The Standard and now Matt McCarten has joined in:

There will be a temptation for these [staunch left] voters to give their party vote to openly left-wing parties, such as RAM (Residents Action Movement), the Workers Party and the Alliance (my old party). The combined party vote of these left-wing parties will be less than 2 per cent. That will mean all their party votes they get will be allocated proportionately to other parties that make it into parliament.
Interestingly, that means that half of the staunch left vote will be added to National. If these left-wingers instead gave their party vote to the Greens it would give them another two MPs they wouldn’t otherwise get.

It is true that if a large percentage of the party vote goes to parties that don’t cross the 5% threshold the remaining seats would be divided up between the parties that did. However there will be no remaining seats this election, Jim Anderton, Peter Dunne and almost every Maori Party MP are likely to cause an overhang, meaning there will be extra seats in parliament, so no seats will be given to parties that didn’t win them. Hear that? There is no way voting Workers Party will give more seats to National.

The second myth is that votes for the Workers Party take votes away from Labour or the Greens. We probably will pick up some former Labour and Green voters, as well as some former Alliance voters, but I imagine the bulk of Workers Party votes will come from first time voters; young people and those who haven’t voted before. Our campaigning has not focused on conversions so much as it has focused on those who have been left behind by Labour and long since given up on them. Many left-of-Labour voters are not taking votes away from Labour at all, because they wouldn’t vote Labour anyway, for example this is a comment left on the Standard post:

I’m never going to vote Labour ever. This was the Party who put in place the highly repressive Terrorism Suppression Act. Helen Clark condoned the October 15 police raids last year. During the raids a whole community was blockaded by paramilitary style police and whole families, including young children, (who were not even related at all to those arrested) ordered out of their homes in the early hours of the morning at gunpoint and detained in sheds in the freezing cold.
Labour also sent SAS troops to support th[e] US led slaughter in Afghanistan. I get really angry when Helen Clark goes on TV saying Labour kept out of the war on Iraq. Between October 2003 and October 2004 the Labour government sent Army engineers to support the British occupation forces in Basra.

Most importantly however, is that its not about tactical voting at all, its about making a statement, voting for the Workers Party is saying you don’t support the status quo, and want something better. Every 1095 days there is an election, what you do in the other 1094 will make a bigger difference than what you do on the 1095th. At least now when the Workers Party vote is small, joining and getting involved with the union at your workplace, and joining progressive campaigns in your area will bring us closer to a better society than any vote will. Give us your vote, but get involved if you really want to help make change.

– from Proletblog http://lossenelin.livejournal.com/


  1. That’s right. The Elections website http://www.elections.org.nz confirms that the votes for parties that don’t get to 5% are not used in the allocation of seats.

    Question :
    What happens to the party votes cast for a party that doesn’t cross the threshold?
    They are not used in the allocation of seats and don’t affect any other party’s share

  2. Just to clarify, what I meant is that because of the overhang, no party will get extra seats. If 5% of the vote went to parties outside parliament, 7 seats would not be left empty, they would go to the parties in parliament based on the share of the vote those parties got (correct me if I’m wrong on this). The votes for parties outside parliament has almost no effect in a no-overhang election, and absolutely no effect on the make up of parliament when there is an overhang.

  3. I think we should avoid being drawn into pointless debates about whether or not voting for WP is a “wasted” vote, and stick to our main message which is essentially that people should reject the whole logic of political lesser-evilism and cast a
    revolutionary protest vote.

    I think that arguments about tactical voting are a distraction from our core argument which is that fundamentally *it does not matter* which capitalist party or coalition of parties gets in on November 8, and that people should vote for WP based not on some convoluted tactical calculation that it is “safe” for them to do so but rather because they genuinely and completely reject the idea of voting for capitalist parties.

    Indeed, I strongly suspect that most of WP’s (probably fairly small) final vote tally is likely to come from people who *would not otherwise have voted* or who are voting for the first time this year.

  4. The issue I have is that the arguments about wasted votes are tied back into the “vote for the lesser evil” argument.
    I wouldn’t be voting in this election if it weren’t for WP, the argument actually needs to come back to building beyond capitalist representative political structures.

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