Recent events, the German, the Australian and last week’s local body elections, remind us how the voting system can change the result. Our media reports that Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats have had a stunning win. It was a remarkable result. The Conservatives are the largest party and have increased their vote and under First Past the Post they would have a huge majority. But Germany has MMP. The Christian Democrats are just short of 50% of the seats. While the Social Democrats (Labour) and the Greens had an awful election result with the Left Party (the former Communist party) they have a majority in the Bundestag and could form the government.
The Social Democrats have promised not to go into coalition with the Left Party. How long before that promise is forgotten?
How could Angela Merkel win the best result for the Christian Democrats since 1990 and yet may lose government? She campaigned for both votes which drove her coalition partner the Free Democrats (An ACT type party) out of parliament. It is easy to see John Key and National winning the next election only to find without a partner they lose power.
Tony Abbott and the Liberals won the Australian election in a landslide, right?
Ricky Muir stood for the Senate as the “Australian Motorist Party”. He issued no press statements so no one knows what he thinks about anything or if he has ever thought about anything except motor cars. Despite being the motor car candidate the Greens included him on their preferences. As Mr Muir had never said anything no party had anything against him so nearly every party included the motorist party on their how to vote card. With a primary vote of one percent Ricky Muir has been elected to the Australian Senate. This mystery man together with the “Clive Palmer Party” – lead by an eccentric billionaire who thinks Wendi Murdock is a Chinese government spy holds the balance of power. (Palmer makes Winston seem quite rational). Palmer’s first demand is more funding for his party or he will vote against every Liberal government measure including those he promised to support. .
If Palmer carries out his threats, who did win the Australian election.
The low turnout in our local body elections will produce the usual calls for compulsory voting. Australia shows you can force the donkeys to vote but the result is donkeys holding the balance of power.
Did I do the right thing? I got my 18 year old who has gone out flatting to get on the Electoral Roll. She tells me that none of the other flat mates bothered. Hers was the only vote from the house. Good on her you think. Then she told me “I recognised none of the candidates. I voted for Trevor Maxwell because he is good at Kapa Haka”.
The decision of her flat mates not to bother to enrol or vote seems totally rational. If you do not know who to vote for is it not more responsible not to vote? If you do not intend voting why put the ratepayers to the expense of enrolling you?
Of course our voting systems are better - or are they? The Greens who campaigned for MMP demanded Hospital Board Elections be Single Transferable Vote. (It is a voting system that appeals to the Greens as it guarantees the losers get to elect some candidates. According to the Greens elections are not to decide issues but to guarantee representation).
It is not often I agree with John Minto – who says he lost the mayoralty because B is ahead of him in the alphabet. Actually John in your case I think there might be another explanation for your low vote but with Single Transferable Vote where voters must number their voters 1, 2 down to 7 for the Hospital Board it appears where you are in the alphabet does matter. Successful candidates for the Auckland Hospital Board: Agnew, Mathias, Bassett, Chambers, Aitken, Northey and Armstrong.
When Auckland had a telephone book I realised half of the surnames began with the letters ABCD. But even allowing for that bias having no one elected bellow N is suspicious. Apparently the disciplined C&R supporters voted the total ticket C&R ticket alphabetically. Tough luck for John McConnell or in my area Ron Scott. .
I have never been sure what the Electoral Commission does in between elections. Perhaps they should have a look at whether Single Transferable Vote is a sensible way to elect Hospital Board members.