Shooting yourself in the foot? No.

I had the misfortune of being told the other day that voting Green while hoping for a coalition led by Labour for the next government would be like “shooting yourself in the foot.”

There seems to be a mistaken perception out there that the largest party in an MMP parliament gets first shot at forming the government. This would only be true if all the key minor parties agreed it to be. There is currently no official protocol dictating how coalition negotiations take place, and there is certainly not an order of precedence.

Thus far, the only party to state they will base the priorities of their negotiations on who the largest single party was has been New Zealand First- the only party whose future is currently in any kind of doubt.1 United Future will likely base its negotiations on the overall size of each coalition. The Maori Party will likely consult with its base in order to make its decision. The Progressives and the Act Party have already commited to supporting Labour and National, respectively. The Greens will announce who they support based on the policy of the two major parties.

So, unless you’re a Labour supporter thinking of voting for NZF as a support party, there is no way to “shoot yourself in the foot” by voting for a smaller party that will commit to supporting a certain larger party. If the Greens announce they’ll be supporting Labour, (I’m pretty confident that National cannot offer the necessary policy to convince the Party otherwise) anyone who wants a Labour coalition can feel free to give the Greens their vote if they feel the Green Party will be more productive in Parliament than Labour, that it better represents their principles, or if they want a support party to hold Labour accountable.

1I’ll go on record as saying that anyone who counts Winston and NZF out early isn’t paying enough attention to the amount of times he’s bounced back in the past, but it’s worth considering that he may not be around next time.

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2 thoughts on “Shooting yourself in the foot? No.

  1. My sympathies, Ari, I also get called on how the allegiances will fall – but that’s also because some of my affinity networks run to folks who say “don’t vote, it only encourages them”, right through to very hard leftwingers who are concerned more about the possibilities of massive job losses as the credit crunch falls harder into our little patch of the pacific pond.

    It’s very interesting discussing these issues with people from different socio-economic or vocational backgrounds, it can really shake your own tree & make you wonder just how it will all be rationalised by those in power in 6 months’ time…

    I’m not enough of a gambler to try to pick who might coalesce with whom, in what form of coalition government, for this election year.
    I’m pretty sure that there’s a lot of wild cards out there that polling hasn’t taken into account – like the huge, young, deeply student-loan indebted, expat population, merrily enrolling to be able to cast special votes.

  2. Heh. Nice timing.

    It wasn’t actually my allegiance in question- rather, it was someone I know talking about one of her friends who has always voted Green worrying that she might have to vote Labour. As I found it impossible to get my point across in person, I wrote it here.

    As for the polling- absolutely. It’s all done by landline, so if you’re unlisted, (and the majority of occupations necessitating that lend to left-wingers) or rely on a cellphone, (a trend among younger New Zealanders more likely to vote Green) or are too poor to afford either… (again, more likely to be left-wing) well, then you’re not going to be counted in the polls. The only important part is who’s up and who’s down, and that’s not exactly measured accurately enough for good commentary in New Zealand anyway.

    As for my gambles on partners- United Future will prefer National but would go with Labour again if they look likely to win, The Green Party will probably support Labour, New Zealand First is anyone’s guess if they get back in, The Progressives and Act are done deals, and I think the Maori Party is feeling too betrayed by Labour (yet again!) to support them, so it’s National or independent opposition for them.

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