The biggest party with the biggest misconception

Brian Rudman sets National straight today on its misconception that being the biggest party automatically gives it a moral mandate to govern, even if more people voted for it not to be in government:

The sniping about MMP is a smokescreen for the critics’ inability to adjust to the new rules. They’re talking horse racing when the game is now chess.

I would have said it’s a bit more like Twister actually.  Lots of different colours on the board and it’s fairly hard to avoid ending up entangled with the other parties, but the goal is to find something that is balanced and supported enough that it can stand up and doesn’t look too depraved.

On the same topic I have to say that I am enjoying’s bloggers Chris Trotter and Matthew Hooten.  What a combo – a left winger that says such offence and disagreeable things that left wingers can’t agree with him, and a right winger who peddles the sort of conspiracy theories and scandalised gossip that fuel the right wing blogosphere but, I have to assume, most right wingers also dislike.

Yesterday we had Trotter trying to address this topic of should the biggest party be entitled to govern but then also drifting off and accusing TVNZ of treason for running a badly worded poll.  Then today Matthew Hooten responds by accusing the left of planning to abolish the free press. It’s not as though we don’t have real issues to debate this election without needing to create imaginary ones to totally obscure things.

Meanwhile I think Kahikatea summed up things nicely yesterday:

I’m sure there are some Labor (sic) supporters in Australia who would share John Key’s view. After all, Labor is the biggest party there in EVERY election.

It’s funny how democracy can look different from different vantage points.

15 Comments Posted

  1. Greenfly
    The invitation was to a “bi-partisan government”, i.e. just the two parties, making it easier to work and forcing less compromise between multiple parties. The key to the offer (excuse the pun, I just noticed it,) is that all (and the only) policy compromise on the part of National will be in the areas of Environment, Conservation and Bio-security. These are the portfolios where National is prepared to accept the policies of the Greens inasmuch as they are demonstrably affordable.

    Clearer, or do you need some more?

    BTB I see the Greens as wanting to always appear serious and considered, but are they? I have my doubts – I remember the 60s with great affection.

  2. strings – the Greens are always being accused of taking things too seriously – do you think they would treat the prospect flippantly? Did you have an idea, hypothetically, of what portfolio your 4th Act MP, Roger Douglas, would hold in this nightmarish government?

  3. You haven’t said what Labour has, nor mentioned Dunne, who if included enable them to form a govt with Act. In which case, their wouldn’t be a hope of getting the deal you suggest.

    But I think what you’re trying to describe is a situation where only the Nats can govern and only with the Greens. While highly unlikely to occur, it would be a huge issue for the Party to resolve, because the choice then becomes going with the Nats vs having another election. I wouldn’t want to predict the outcome, given that the decision would be made at a special general meeting of the Party. I suppose there’s always a chance if the policy agreement was good enough. I am sure it would take more than just the baubles of office however.

  4. Opportunity for hypothetical debate.

    National win 59 seats in a parliament that has 124 seats, The Greens win 6 and are the third biggest party, ACT win 4 seats.

    National invite The Greens to join them in a bi-partisan government, offering two seats in Cabinet (a bit over the 1.8% of seats, but Swedish rounding applies) one of which would be Environment, the other would be Conservation and Bio-security.

    Would the Green Party seriously consider it or “just say no”?

  5. Swampy Says:
    October 29th, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    “It is not possible to cast a vote AGAINST a party at an election.”

    Technically true. But if a majority of the electorate vote for parties who clearly oppose National’s policies it amounts to the same thing.

  6. Shhh, don’t tell them, that’s the whole point. Maybe we can get on with life while they are sniffing each others bums!

  7. I’m of the opinion that the party with the biggest pile of votes has a moral mandate to be the first party to NEGOTIATE the formation of the next government.
    Thus (the governor general maybe?) directs the ‘winner’ the right to negotiate with whoever for a fixed period of time. If they fail to reach an accord then the next cab can cruise off the rank and so forth until a government can be formed.

  8. Your blog contained the meaningless phrase
    “even if more people voted for it not to be in government”.

    There is no such thing. It is not possible to cast a vote AGAINST a party at an election. Votes are cast FOR a party. People CAN NOT vote for a party “not to be in a government”. This statement is ludicrous.

    The fact is that coalitions are the norm under MMP, and noone can predict what coalition will be formed, how it will be made up, and if your claim was taken seriously then no party with less than 50% of the vote should ever attempt to be part of a coalition because, hey, more people voted against them than for them. So if the Greens only get 5% then 95% of the electorate voted against them.

  9. put your web feet up where we can see them fwwog,
    we gotcha covered,
    Fact is fwwog that Helengrand is out of time,
    and if you people form a government with her minority
    you can kiss MMP goodbye.
    what ya gonna do fwwog, take a rest now, or forever,

  10. toad Says:
    October 29th, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    “It very nearly happened last time”

    And should it happen this time, BB, I’ll be feeling as sick on November 9th as the amphibian contingent, but any “screaming” will be directed at that government’s policies. Calling a coalition that has majority support in the house illegitimate or undemocratic is a different jug of herrings and it’s something I’m sure you won’t hear Greens doing.

  11. BB said: I can just imagine the screaming from Frog if the Nat’s were to cobble together a coalition when Labour had the biggest share of the vote.

    It very nearly happened last time BB. I’m sure neither Frog or I would have liked it, but we wouldn’t like any government that headed in a direction totally contrary to Green policy, whatever the numbers of the parties that make it up.

  12. Really?….gee, and we all know how much the Greens just love democracy just as long as it is their democracy.

  13. I can just imagine the screaming from Frog if the Nat’s were to cobble together a coalition when Labour had the biggest share of the vote.

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