NZ Election: the morning after

– Daphna Whitmore

For the Workers Party – this was the first time a socialist party was on the party list. A red flag on the ballot paper was an achievement – and one that took a bit of work to get the numbers to satisfy the electoral commission that we qualified. We were the last party to get registered, making it just a few days out from writ day.

It was a last minute campaign for the party vote but the campaigning was good for our organisation. Members got active, our website has been constantly updated and a lot of new contacts have been made. We got our name out across the country so there are now thousands of people who know there is a far left option. We got votes in every electorate of the country. capitalism-not-our-future-don1

In New Zealand as far as I’m aware the far left has not yet ever got more than 200 votes in an electorate and this was reflected again in our vote. With 824 on the first count it is possible we’ll get over 900 once the special votes are counted.

MMP is a funny system. It engenders a lot of the first past the post mentality. Not just in the electorate seats where it is FPP, but in general people still tend to see things in terms of National and Labour. That was reflected in the 80 per cent of votes cast for those two parties.

A really proportional system would be better. It’s hardly democratic that NZ First gets 4.2 per cent of the vote and no seats, while Progressives and United Future each have a seat but a tiny overall vote. And Act gets five seats on 3.72 per cent of the vote.

Low turnout and 10,700 votes for the Bill and Ben Party indicate a lack of public confidence in the options on offer.

As for RAM – Socialist Worker watered-down their politics until they were a bland list of reforms. The result will be humiliating for them after they trumpeted their party as the fastest growing left organisation. It was a combination of fakery and fantasy. They would have got a better result if they had stood as Socialist Worker. As it was, they abandoned what they actually believed in to campaign on an Alliance-type platform. Only thing, Alliance is to the left of RAM.

National campaigned as Labour-lite and any lurch to the right will be punished by the public who did not vote for an Act government. Key’s victory speech would have to be one of the dullest ever. Blandness marked the National campaign.

Act will want to push National further to the right, especially in the context of a recession and employers will be wanting to slash and burn.

Interestingly,  the CTU kept parties such as RAM, The Workers Party and Alliance out of public meetings while inviting Act and National.

Last night though Key repeated that he’s going to be talking to the Maori Party – and hinted at the Maori portfolio going to the Maori Party. That would give National options, and avoid them being at the mercy of Act for a majority in the house.

It would suit the Maori Party as it would be distant enough from National to avoid a backlash and enable it to get some concessions for Maori.

Labour has lost a bunch of MPs, and some important seats. The union officials who were hysterically campaigning for Labour as if the sky would fall in if they weren’t elected can now go and slash their wrists.

Greens – people who voted Green in order to keep National out can mull over the Green leader’s comment on election night that “they will work with National on issues where there is agreement.”


  1. The business with the CTU meetings was really bad, however not all the Unions acted to freeze out socialist parties.

    In Dunedin the CTU had me on the bill for Alliance, and my Union the Maritime Union had me at meetings speaking for Alliance in Auckland, Wellington and Port Chalmers. MUNZ also had Don along to a Wellington meeting I think for WP? A few of our MUNZ officials also made it known that they were unhappy about the way the CTU were handling it.

    Anyway this is something that needs to be followed up, I still can’t believe there were Union forums where they had ACT candidates but wouldn’t let socialist candidates speak.

  2. PS above comment from Victor Billot

  3. Don Franks says:

    I did appreciate MUNZ inviting us to speak at their meeting, and was pleased to see MUNZ members at our ‘left of Labour ‘debate.
    However, otherunion office reaction to anything other than Labour was closed minded. it took me weeks of determined battling to get a few minutes for the WP at the local lac. My correspondence with Pat Bolster shows that clearly.
    Since the election there has been a deathly silence from CTU leaders. They have met with Key, but not confered with their own troops. It is as if they don’t want to antagonise the new master.
    We need to fight for a militant partisan workingclass attitude in the union movement, or some of the doomsday stuff predicted to come under National really will happen.

  4. I ran in Wellington Central alongside Don Franks, and I must say it was a joy to hear someone campaigning on what they really think, and not watering their message down for public consumption. On ya, mate!
    I admit that I did campaign for people to give their party vote to the greens on a lesser evil argument. I defend that position for that election, but I won’t repeat it. They’ve abandoned a lot of the policies that brought people to them. If those voters abandon the greens next time, such is life.
    Watch out for the special votes in Wgtn central- if I get three more than RAM’s Grant Brookes, you’s can say that they got their arse kicked by a lone junkie!

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