How can National win the election?
I am of the opinion that the Maori Party will join John Key in Government in 2008 unless public opinion dramatically changes. For the Maori Party not to do so will destroy the pattern of New Zealand's political history as well as governance in this country.
Looking at our political history since 1960, National has won elections resulting in a chage of governmental leadership every 15 years - 1960, 1975, and 1990. Who knows, National may have won in 2005 keeping the 15 year pattern intact had Labour not bought the election.
National "won" the 1960 election in 1958 when the electorate rejected the Black Budget of that year. Since 1960, the government has changed hands to National only with the support of the Maori seats or on the back of a third party vote and therefore a landslide. The last time a party governed without the Maori seats was in 1990. National won with a 9.7% swing - the biggest swing against the Government since 1935.
Just before the 1975 election the Electoral Amendment Act was passed giving Maori voters the option of choosing between the Maori and General roll. It was the first year that Maori MPs won general seats - Rex Austin and Ben Couch for the National Party who won in a landslide. The Values Party was the prominent third party that year, . In the following two elections Social Credit got between 18-21% of the vote, keeping Labour out. Its worth pointing out that in 1984 the New Zealand Party won 12% of the vote, keeping National out in the same way that Social Credit kept Labour out. Social Credit's vote fell more than 60% from 1981 levels but it still got two more seats than the NZ Party.
In 1990 National won again , mainly through a rejection of Rogernomics. Labour was left with just 29 seats. As in 1960, not even the Maori seats or a low third party vote could save Labour, who were toast for just the second time in 30 years.
Since MMP in 1996, all Governments have had the support of the Maori seats when winning office, and in most cases that suport was conditional on that government forming. As it was, in 1993, Labour did not hold all the Maori seats, with Tau Henare - now a list MP for National - picking up one for New Zealand First, who were to get all the Maori seats in the 1996 election. NZF enabled National to stay in power after NZ First took two months to decide who to go into coalition with. The Maori seats were pivotal in the first MMP election.
NZ First lost all the Maori seats in 1999, and if WInston Peters had 63 fewer votes, NZ First would also have been out of Parliament. Once again the Government had the support of the holders of the Maori seats, as all went to Labour, as they did in 2002. In 2005 neither National OR Labour held the majority of the Maori seats, thanks to the Maori Party, but Labour held more than National so the theory holds that of the two big parties, the party that has the support of more Maori seats than the other is the Government in an MMP era. Helen Clark had to cobble up her unusual arrangement in part because she didn`t have the support of most of the Maori seats.
Which brings me to 2008. The Maori Party is likely to hold most of the Maori seats, if not all after the election, and, like all MMP elections, whoever the Maori party decides to support could well be the Government. And so referring to yesterdays post, the Maori Party could well go with National.
But the holders of the Maori seats have done strange things - think 1996. If the Maori Party goes with no-one and decides it won't be in Government or support any of the two major parties it wil bleed support and governance will be in limbo.
If that happens everyone will blame MMP. Particularly this person, which I may have to fisk tomorrow.
Labels: Maori seats ; Maori Party; MMP