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Making sense of the polls

NZ Election Results: Labour Performs Dismally

With all election night votes counted in yesterday’s New Zealand election, the centre right Nationals have won 48.1% of the vote, up 0.8% on the 2011 election. That meant they almost doubled Labour’s vote, which won a pathetic 24.7%, down 2.8%. The Greens had 10.0% of the vote, down 1.1%, NZ First 8.9%, up 2.3% and the Conservatives 4.1%, up 1.5%.

Because the Conservatives failed to reach the 5% threshold or win a single member seat, their votes are effectively wasted, and parties that did reach the threshold benefit from this. The provisional results give National 61 seats, up 2 on 2011, Labour 32, down 2, the Greens 13, down 1, NZ First 11, up 3, Maori Party 2, down 1, and ACT and United Future one seat each. Maori Party, ACT and United Future all won a single member seat, and are thus represented with less votes than the Conservatives. The Mana Party lost its single member seat, and thus wins zero seats. The total NZ Parliament will have 121 seats, with one seat being created by an “overhang” because United Future won a seat on only 0.2% of the vote.

On the provisional results, National has a majority in its own right with 61 of the 121 seats. These results are not the final figures; there are still overseas and other special votes to be counted, and the electoral commission will announce the final figures in two weeks time. The remaining votes have tended to be left leaning in the past, and may cost National its 61st seat. Even if National falls back to 60 seats, it will still be able to govern with the support of ACT and United Future. If National does win a majority, it would be the first time since the adoption of proportional representation in 1996 that one party has won a majority.

In 2008, Labour lost office after nine years with 34.0% of the vote. In 2011, their vote slumped to 27.5%, and now it is a risible 24.7%. The 2011 Labour vote may be explained by a honeymoon effect for National, but the continued slump in the Labour vote after six years of National government shows that something is badly wrong with NZ Labour. The worst performance by Australian Labor at a recent State or Federal general election was 25.5% in NSW 2011. That result came after 16 years of Labor government, which was increasingly perceived as corrupt. NZ Labour has just underperformed NSW Labor! The one bright spot for Labour was that they won six of the seven electorates reserved for Maoris, up from three in 2011.

The final NZ polls were too high on the Labour and Green votes, slightly low on the National vote, and too low on the NZ First vote.

For more on the NZ election, you can look at any of: the NZ Electoral Commission’s Results, the Poll Bludger’s coverage, and Wikipedia’s past NZ election results.

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