Troppo exposes secret analysis of the NZ election: Shock

I was sent the following analysis of the NZ election yesterday.  I was sent it by someone I know, but I can’t possibly tell you who it was (or I’d have to kill you). Moreover the person who sent this to me, did not identify the person who sent it to him. I think that’s because he or she is a public servant and he or she can’t be bothered with the hassle of having publicly expressed views. Which is all fair enough. In any event this is the analysis, which I found of some interest.

You inquired about Don Brash and the ACT party in the recent NZ elections.

It’s a terrible result for the ACT.

·         They retained the leafy Auckland seat of Epsom, but with a reduced margin, and with the victor being a conservative named John Banks.

·         They only got 1% of the party vote: their worst ever result, which means that they don’t get any ‘party-list’ parliamentarians to sit alongside John Banks.

·         Don Brash has quit as leader – John Banks will presumably step into that role.

I’m no expert, but here’s my take as to why it happened.

·         Minor parties lose votes after being in government:

o   The three minor parties in the coalition each lost votes.

§  Being in government disappoints idealists – they liked the ACT when it railed against government excess, but didn’t like the party once it failed to change the world and it (mis)used taxpayer funds (eg travel rort claims against former leader Rodney Hide).

o   Those who like the government seem to reward the major party in the coalition: the Nationals have risen from 58 to 60 seats.

§  Don Brash tried to campaign on the ACT record in government, but perhaps people didn’t associate the reforms with the ACT, or perhaps they weren’t popular reforms (eg easing unfair dismissal laws).

§  He tried to campaign on what the ACT would do in a future coalition government, but if they couldn’t get those reforms up last time why expect it the next time.

·         Parties like the ACT are particularly vulnerable to disintegration.

o   Those who are principled/dogmatic enough to want freedom in all spheres of life are few.

o   So parties like the ACT try to attract the more populous hippies (who want drugs to be legalised, and social services) and rednecks (who want wars on drugs, and tax cuts).  But this leads to:

§  constant attacks from the NZ Greens for the hippy vote and from NZ First for the redneck vote (both parties seem to have stolen votes from the ACT); and

§  disunity and splintering (there was public disagreement between Don Brash and John Banks on marijuana decriminalisation, and leaked conversations about the ACT leadership between Banks and John Key).

o   The same thinking could be applied to think-tanks like the IPA.

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12 years ago

I wonder why have the Lib Dems been so successful in the UK? Presumably they had all of these problems once. Also, the Greens (in many places) and NZ First are small parties, but being in government hasn’t killed them off and both of them often appeal to idealistic goals they have not achieved.

“Those who are principled/dogmatic enough to want freedom in all spheres of life are few.”

This is like a line that does any party using it a disfavor (does ACT love it? Many libertarians seem to). First, I doubt many people know what it actually means (especially in Aus and NZ, perhaps people do in the US). Even for those that do, to me it seems like a judgemental and exclusionary statement, a bit like “Freedom is how we define it, and if you don’t agree with us, you must love Stalin”. This seems like a good way to lose the votes of people who might be somewhat but not totally aligned with the goals of the party.

12 years ago

Only recently, and I figured that was really due to mainstream concerns rather than minor party concerns — don’t join an unpopular coalition in the middle of a recession or you’ll get blamed and hated for doing unpopular things.

12 years ago

The UK Lib Dems are nothing like ACT, the Lib Dems are closer to the Australian Greens than they are to ACT, which is a fairly straight up libertarian party.

12 years ago

The UK Lib Dems were a hopeful option when all the easy options had been tried and failed. They were sucked into a power vacuum as UK voters finally start to accept the fact that their entire political class has failed them and scratch their heads over where to go from here.

Ken Miles
12 years ago

ACT cut its own throat. The party fell apart with infighting between the leader the deputy leader. Then Don Brash (who wasn’t a member) organised a coup, rolled the leader (Rodney Hide) and joined the party. He then recruited one of NZ’s arch conservatives (John Banks) to act as deputy – making their already laughable claims of being a libertarian party an even bigger joke. The leader and deputy promptly fell apart over pot decrimalisation. Then there were rumors that the deputy would roll the leader shortly after the election. But then the NZ public made that moot by only electing the deputy. ACT is now a shallow conservative imitation of itself.

Mike Pepperday
Mike Pepperday
12 years ago

Also – the Lib Dems are elected by plurality voting. The ACT kept its seat but lost its dispersed support. If a party depends entirely on concentrated support in single-member electoral districts then it might ride out its national ups and downs.