An “arrogant grab of unmandated power”, or a legitimate coalition government?

via Stuff, Kai Schwoerer

Some National Party supporters, however, appear to think the party was robbed this election and that just seven percent of voters – those who voted for New Zealand First – determined the final outcome. They forget, of course, that both Labour and the Greens also had to sign up to the deal to form a new government. And had New Zealand First thrown its support behind National would the argument had remained the same?

National deserves to be disappointed that its strong result in the election did not end in it leading a fourth-term government. Achieving 44 percent in any circumstances, let alone after nine years in power, is a strong result.

There is little need for the party to review its election performance. Its leader Bill English ran a good campaign and surely put to rest the ghosts of National’s disastrous 2002 campaign when, under his leadership, it recorded its worst result with just 21 percent of the party vote.

But National failed to adapt to MMP. To form a government, it is not enough to win most votes. Parties must be able to form partnerships with others to govern.

From 2008 to 2017 it relied on its own strong vote and support from the Maori, ACT and United Future parties to govern. But National was always going to need more support this election. Yet it did nothing substantial to develop a relationship with New Zealand First. In the end, too, there was simply more policy alignment between NZ First and Labour.

Go back to the 1978 and 1981 elections when National won marginally fewer votes than Labour. That result, coupled with Social Credit’s failure to win more than two seats in 1981 despite a 20 percent popular vote, helped fuel the campaign for electoral reform. Both those National Governments led by Robert Muldoon governed with support of less than 40 percent.

In contrast the new government being sworn in on Thursday not only has a majority of seats in the Parliament but also the support of 50.4 percent of those who voted in the 23 September election. Between them National and ACT have 44.9 percent support.

There is no question this is a legitimately elected government. Whether it is an effective government which meets the ambitions of its different groups of supporters only time will tell.

In 2020 Matt King will get the opportunity to put to the test his belief that it was an “arrogant grab of unmandated power” – just as Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens will find out for sure if the 2017 result really was a vote for change.

National are slow learners.  And it still doesn’t look like they will understand how to solve the MMP problem in time for 2020.


– Brent Edwards, RNZ

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.