Sunday, September 18, 2005

Well, that's it for another three years...

No, it ain’t all over yet. The fat lady has been handcuffed to the dressingroom door and well and truly gagged. On the night – Labour (centre-left) 50 seats, National (centre-right) 49 seats, NZFirst (the Winnie-the-Pooh factor) 7 seats, Greens (way-out left) 6 seats, Maori (Tariana Tureia’s protest party) 4 seats. Calculated majority – 61 or 62 seats.

With various minor factions refusing to sit with one another, the wish for Auntie Helen “to live in interesting times” could not have been better answered.

But what of the realities?

The first reality is that as of election night there are some 10% of votes cast yet to be counted. These are the equivalent of the US “absentee” votes.

The effect on individual electorate results is likely to be minimal. For example the result in Tauranga – Winnie the Pooh vs Bob Left Testicle – might change, but the only effect that will have is to exchange list for electorate seats for NZF and National without altering overall seat counts.

What that 10% could very easily change will be the party votes. At present there is about 0.8% between National and Labour – 20,000 votes out of 2.1 million. A comparatively small change in the proportions might have a major impact on the overall position of the two majors.

Even more interesting is the possiblity of the Greens losing out. They chose again not to contest any electorate seats, but to rely solely upon the Party vote. Under the “rules”, they need 5% of the total party vote to have any representation. On election night they held 5.0n% and 6 seats. Rough calculations by the pundits on the night had the Greens needing nearly 12,000 of the specials to hold their place.

Despite the fact that the Greens are a former coalition partner to Labour, I suspect that Auntie Helen is hoping (with all her heart) that the Greens do in fact drop out. The reason you will see, no doubt, is that the Greens are a barrier to two other major potential partners – NZFirst and United Future.

So, that is why the fat lady has been manacled and gagged.

Second reality is that the law requires the writs (the formal results) to be posted by 1st October, and for Parliament to meet the first week in November. In that month, the leading parties have the opportunity to present to the Governor General their claims for a majority in the House capable of withstanding a challenge of "confidence and supply". Until that is accepted the present government continues as "caretaker".

Other than that, what is there to say?

Oh, we had our own “9/11” here as well. Some burk hijacked a Cessna from Ardmore and threatened to fly it into the Skytower. I must explain. Every major city seems to have its phallic symbol. Some even have several. Sometimes they come in pairs. Auckland has the Skytower. It is a 328m phallus. With a knob on. Do you get the impression that I don’t like it? You’d be right. Anyways, this burk was going to fly a Cessna into the Skytower. He chickened and ended up in the drink about 5km down the Bays at Mission Bay or Kohimarama. He was fished out by passing natives and handed over to the powers that be in a serious condition. Whether from contemplating the phallus, crashing in the sea, or the ministrations of the passing natives is unclear. He is apparently improving this morning and been placed under arrest.

What are the pundits saying?

Our Sunday paper arrived – at last. I suspect that they had two versions ready for the press – with only last minute details to be fleshed out. A draw would not have been one of them... Urban Labour vs rural National is a strong flavour. National doubling its number of seats – from 20% to 40% - is another strong line. Strange that they attribute that to Brash Donnie and not to the fact that Bill (I speak) English was a dead duck, not a lame one.

The “collapse” of the Christian parties was pointed out during the evening. The fact was not lost on Brash Donnie who, in his closing speech last night referred to the National Party as the party of Catholics, Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, and - after a prompt from the audience - Closed Brethren... That is a scary prospect for the next election whether it be three years or three months down the road.

What do I think?

A National government will not be a surprise, especially if the Green vote goes under 4.9%. If that does happen, then I would expect a fresh election within 12 months. I don’t believe that Brash Donnie has the political nous that will be needed to keep a fragile government together.

If Labour can increase their lead over National from the specials by one or two seats then I have no doubt that Auntie Helen will last the three year term. To do that, however, I suspect that they will lose the Greens.

Last word – United Future is another example of the “one man band” parties. NZ First with Winnie the Pooh is the major. UF is led by Peter Dunne, a very astute guy who holds Ohariu Belmont in Wellington – the very gold-plated centre of the public service. Essentially he is Independant rather than holding a “colour”.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Entertaining play-by-play, probligo. By the way, I share your distaste (no pun) for phallic architecture.