Sunday, November 09, 2008

Vote Green!

Green Party sticker - 'I only date boys who vote Green'. Haha yeah I know I'm a little late posting this Vote Green! message now :)

I was busy!

I spent yesterday afternoon scrutineering at a polling station on behalf of the Green Party. It was fun! I tried to smile nicely at as many people as I could, just in case they hadn't made up their minds yet and the sight of my nice green rosette and happy grin might encourage them to vote our way. I'm kinda joking here, but on the other hand, I'm kinda not.

In the evening I went over to Lou and Jason's place for our now-traditional election night get-together. It wasn't quite as happy an occasion as it has been for the past few years, but I have to say that the results didn't really come as much of a surprise.

Except for Helen retiring, of course. I hadn't expected that. You'll be missed, Helen! I think you've done a (mostly) excellent job over the past nine years and I'll be sorry to see you go.

I had high hopes for a decent Green Party vote, as the polls had us up to around 10% in the closing days, so I was rather disappointed with the 6.4% that we ended up getting. I'd been quite amazed by the number of friends who spoke to me on Friday and confided that they'd decided to vote Green - way more than I had expected - so I was feeling quite confident about the result (for us, anyway).

One of the arguments I had used in discussions with friends who were in the process of making up their minds was this:

Let's assume that you are of a left-wing persuasion. Let's also assume that you have reviewed the policy positions of both Labour and the Greens, and find significant areas of agreement between the policies of each party and your own beliefs. Who should you vote for?

Putting aside any detailed ideological fit/differences for the sake of this argument, let's look at your vote in purely practical and strategic terms.

If your vote enables the Greens to reach the 5% mark in the Party vote, they will automatically win six seats in Parliament. If you don't vote Green and they get only 4.9%, they will get no seats.

If the Greens win no seats, those six seats will be distributed amongst the larger parties, in proportion to their vote. This means that, depending on the overall National/Labour share of the party vote this year, National would end up getting three or four of those seats, and Labour would get two or three of them.

In terms of a Labour/Green alliance you therefore get more bang for your buck by voting Green because of the 5% threshold rule. A Labour/Green alliance would get the Labour seats + six Green seats in the first scenario, and the Labour seats + two or three distributed seats in the second scenario (with National getting the other three or four).

The added benefit that Labour would get from your vote (if you voted Labour rather than Green) would not be as great as the benefit the Greens would get if you voted for them - because of the leap from zero to six seats once the 5% threshold is reached.

Make sense?

Green Party sticker - 'I only date girls who vote Green'. Well, it obviously made sense to a bunch of my friends, considering how many decided to vote Green this year.

So I wonder... why such a big difference between the polling numbers and the actual results for the Greens in this election?

Maybe it was such a beautiful day that some greenies were out doing outdoorsy things and didn't get around to voting. Maybe the very good poll numbers led some soft Green voters to conclude that the urgency to vote Green wasn't so strong this year, so they voted Labour instead, concerned that Labour needed help to win.

Maybe our ground game wasn't as good this year due to the high level of interest amongst many political activists in the US elections, possibly resulting in a drop-off in volunteers for the Green campaign.

Now I have no clue whether this last possibility is even accurate - was there less volunteering this year? I have no idea. But I do know it was true for me, much as it embarrasses me to say it.

Last election I delivered targeted Green literature all across my local area. I went to a candidate's meeting. I watched all the debates on telly. I talked Green politics to all and sundry. I scrutineered on election day. If I had had my blog back then I am sure I would have written heaps about the election.

This year I managed a single solitary blog post about our election (in amongst the dozens and dozens on the US Presidential race), spent the afternoon scrutineering, didn't deliver any campaign literature, didn't go to a candidate's meeting and watched not a single moment of a single debate on teevee.

Oh - and I didn't manage to get the "how to strategically vote Green" portion of this post up until AFTER the election. Brilliant.

Bad webweaver! Sowwy Greens! I hope I was the only one. I did manage to give away a bunch of your very cool stickers on Friday, though...

Oh - one last thing.

Ironically enough, the exact same strategic argument I'd been using to encourage people to vote Green, would also have helped a Labour-led coalition that included Winston Peters and New Zealand First.

Assuming that he'd have wanted to team up with Labour and the Greens (and maybe the Maori Party), if NZ First had got over 5%, it would actually have been a much closer race, and Labour potentially could have challenged National in terms of which party would be able to form a government.


I'm sorry to say that my extreme dislike of Winston is so strong that it trumps my need to win (or to be on the winning side). I just couldn't bring myself to cheer on NZ First, willing them to break through the 5% mark. I couldn't do it, even thought I knew logically I should.

Sorry Winston - I think you're a liar and a cheat, a narcissistic egotistical snake in the grass. I wouldn't trust you further than I could throw you, and I'm glad to see the back of you.

I believe that those we choose to represent us in Parliament owe us at least the decency of telling us the truth, and as you are the most egregious liar of them all, I'm not at all sorry to say goodbye.

Actually two last things - here's the second one:

Minutes before John Key came in to do his victory speech, the TV3 coverage at the National Party HQ showed what appeared to be two drunken, rich, rather obnoxious-looking male National Party supporters, waving their glasses of wine around and mugging for the camera.

A minute later one of them came into camera-view again, this time dragging an equally pissed-looking and jewellery-dripping female supporter with him.

I wailed to Jason "Oh noes! I don't want rich fat white men ruling my country for the next three years!" to which Jason replied "I hope a few people who voted for National this time around saw that and regretted what they'd done today". Meh :)

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