Monday, October 13, 2008

How should Maori Party voters vote?

Yes yes, they shouldn't, I know - they should vote Libertarianz, but seriously it’s not really me to help out those who I think are voting for statist collectivist racially based party, but the thing is that MMP does it for them, and Maori Party voters figured it out last time anyway. They have something supporters of virtually all other parties have – a party vote that is best NOT given to the party they support. Why?

The magic of the overhang. You see last election the Maori party won 4 electorate seats, but only won just over 2.1% of the party vote. Typically, a party is entitled to its share of the seats in Parliament according to the party vote, as long as the party wins either 5% or one electorate seat. Yes, I know most of you already knew that. However, the Maori Party won more electorate seats than it won proportionate to the party vote, which means an overhand. The Maori Party has one more seat than it would’ve got had it won one electorate seat and then just had its party vote counted.

So what does this mean? Well for starters the size of Parliament crept up by one, which meant that the number of seats for a majority crept up too.

More importantly it shows that the party votes for the Maori Party were as good as wasted – and indeed many Maori Party voters, probably unconsciously – reflected that, since in all seats won by the Maori Party, Labour won the party vote.

Maori Party voters got the best of both worlds, from their perspective. represented by a Maori Party MP and Labour list MPs.

What it means is that voting for the Maori party on the list is pretty much futile if you believe the Maori party will win more electorate seats than it is likely to get as a proportion of the party vote – which is highly likely.

For those of us who believe in less government it means, ironically, that we can either encourage those who vote for the Maori Party on the electorate vote to vote for a party that supports private property rights and less government (Libertarianz or ACT) or encourage them to, vote for the Maori Party (stopping Labour getting their vote. You see if the Maori Party wins many more party votes then the overhand disappears, there are less MPs in Parliament representing the Maori seat voters, which probably means less Labour MPs – a good thing from my perspective.

If National (or ACT or Libertarianz) were clever they would accept and welcome Maori Party supporters vote Maori party in their Maori electorates – but seek the party vote wholeheartedly. For whilst there may be an overhand, the party vote would be held by someone other than Labour.

Perverse? Yes, but that is what the electoral system allows. I once saw an ACT video pre-1996 proposing that National voters vote National in their electorates and ACT for the party vote, for the very same reason. Of course any major party actively pursuing this would be incentivising the other major party to split into Labour- electorate and Labour – party vote, parties, an absurdity, to create an enormous 65 seat overhang of constituencies.

So remember that this election, the Maori Party has every chance of winning more seats than its party vote would entitle it to do, which no doubt is what the Maori Party would want. The bigger question is whether the Maori Party listens to its supporters who will, undoubtedly, predominantly vote Labour on the party vote – or whether it will support National. The latter, surely, would be enormously risky for the Maori Party, but more importantly, if successful, such a partnership would be much much riskier for Labour.

Would Maori Party supporters dare risk a party vote for one other than Labour? Which political party has said it would repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, and defend Maori private property rights? It begins with L - and it isn't Labour.

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