After an Election: Our New Government

In my last post about the excitement around the 2017 New Zealand General Election, I (correctly) stated that the outcome could see either National or a Labour / Greens coalition form a Government with the support of king-maker New Zealand First. The final tally of votes rolled in on 7 October 2017, with National losing 2 seats to place them at 56 out of 120 seats and the Labour / Greens grouping gaining those 2 seats to put them at 54 out of 120 seats. What that meant was either one going with New Zealand First (with their 7 seats) could form a majority Government. Interesting times indeed.

Last night, Winston Peters, the leader of New Zealand First, announced (finally — that’s a subject for another blog entirely) that his party would support Labour, which means that, with the Greens, they would have a majority. Despite some people, including some of their own supporters, stating that Labour didn’t have a chance, Labour is the majority party in New Zealand’s new Government. Their leader, who only has led them for an amazing 2 and a bit months and managed to energise their support base, will be our second-youngest Prime Minister at the age of 37, and, oh yeah, by the way, Jacinda Adern will be our third female prime minister in the last twenty years (exactly).

The nature of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) parliamentary system doesn’t always see the party with the most votes with a mandate to lead. MMP sees the grouping of the parties with the most in common and who form an alliance as getting the chance to create a stable Government. And, in this case, even though the Labour / Greens / New Zealand First coalition would not be the largest group if we attempted to cobble together groups (such as a National / New Zealand First alliance, or a National / Greens alliance), they seem to have managed to agree to form a Government.

To those who doubted this outcome could happen: well, obviously, it did.

I found the entire process very interesting, especially in light of the fact that I was born and raised in a country with basically two parties. The idea of 4 or more parties working together to create a Government, and where nothing is a given, and where the common good needs to be addressed — that is very interesting indeed.

I want to throw it out there that I didn’t vote for any of the parties in the coalition, but that decision was based on that they had fewer policies I agreed with than the party I did vote for. Interestingly enough, when I took some political alignment tests online, some of my views aligned with National, some with Act (who have 1 seat), some with The Opportunities Party (TOP, who won no seats), some with Labour, and some with the Greens. So, I guess there is a bright side to whoever is in power as there will be at least some policies and social ideas I will agree with.

Overall, though, it’s not the end of the world. The two major parties in New Zealand (despite the tripe you hear from some doomsayers) are pretty middle-of-the-road Kiwi-wise, and probably a lot more liberal than the conservative elements of the Republicans in the USA. Let’s move forward together as New Zealanders and ensure we, as a small nation, retain our relevance and our awesome friendly nature out there in the big, bad, (kinda) crazy world.

And remember: if things don’t work out, there’s always another election in (at most) 3 years’ time.