But we won…didn’t we?

The results  are in.  The swearing-inners have sworn. The dust has settled – but the whining,the utter incomprehension of the bewildered born-to-rule shows no sign of abating. Judging by the first week after confirmation that a coalition of Labour, NZ First and the Greens would be the Government, the first of the moans is the least accurate, but makes a good slogan for the newly dispossessed and it goes – and will go –  like this:

We won the lion’s share of the votes, so how come we’re not in government? You can hear that from Conservative heartland and from some in National’s last, doomed administration.  They’re out of power but acting as if 2017 was a First Past the Post model. In that electoral mode one party did win more votes (than Labour), with the final tallies from the Electoral Commission being 44.4% for National. But here’s when MMP comes into play:

Labour won 36.9% but when it formed a coalition with  NZ First  (7.2%)  and the Greens (6.3%), the total percentage of voters opting for parties other than National amounted to 50.4%.

National can’t afford to be sore about this. In 1978 it won 39.8% of the vote, slightly less than Labour, but went into Parliament with 51 seats – Labour on 40.

The 1981 election ‘exposed the problems with First Past the Post’ according to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_National_Government_of_New_Zealand.  ‘Labour won slightly more votes than National but fewer seats. This was the second time in a row and  contributed to New Zealand’s switch to MMP in the 1990s’.

And so here we are in true MMP country but one in which post electoral bleating will be as persistent and as common as sheep. But the truth remains that most voters voted for the three parties which vowed to change the Government – and under MMP, did just that.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.