Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Zealand

One month from now, New Zealand goes to the polls.

Much has changed in New Zealand in the past year, and even more in the past month.

The shake up began with the Kaikoura earthquake in November. John Key, the long time Prime Minister, decided, a few weeks later, to retire. He was replaced with Bill English, who announced the date of the coming election.

English is a former leader of the National Party. He ran the 2002 election as leader, and captured 20.93% of the vote, the lowest ever vote total for National, by far.

In February, Jacinda Ardern, a list MP from Labour, ran for and won a constituency. She was named Deputy Leader. An interesting fact is that Ardern was raised a mormon, but left the church over the issue of gay rights.

By June of 2017, a new scandal had broke. English, who is a list MP, does not have a constituency. The MP who replaced him in his old constituency, also from English's National Party, secretly recorded a conversation, an act illegal in New Zealand. That MP, Todd Barclay, announced he would not run for re-election.

Not only was National Party money supposedly used as a hush fund, but Bill English admitted he was aware of this scandal prior to it becoming public.

In July, Metiria Turei, Co-Leader of the Greens, admitted to not disclosing Rent payments made to her while she was on welfare, also illegal and known as benefits fraud.

A few weeks later on August 1st, Andrew Little, leader of Labour, stepped down. Little had been tied with or trailing Ardern in leadership preference polls since her becoming deputy leader.

On August 3rd, Turei admitted to lying on official elections documents in order to vote for a friend in 1993.

August 7th saw two Green MPs quit the party, and also saw a flare up of the Barclay scandal involving Bill English.

On the 9th, Turei resigned as Greens leader.

Three polls came out in august. All three show Labour above 32%. Labour has not had polls this strong for this long since 2013. Additionally, Ardern has tied English in prefered Prime Minister polling, a feat Labour has not achieved in nearly a decade.

With polling showing a likely loss, United Future leader, Peter Dunne, announced he would not run in the coming election, and is retiring. Polling shows the Maori party likely losing all of their seats as well.

All of this is a massive shift in politics in New Zealand, away from what had been a stable trend that has lasted a decade. It is now unclear who will win the election.


SYSTEM

New Zealand uses a fairly simple MMP Proportional Representation system.

There are 64 "Standard" electorates (constituencies) and 7 Maori electorates. Added to these 71 electorate seats are 49 "list" seats. These seats are elected so that the final proportions of parties in the Parliament is equal to the proportion of voters who cast ballots for those parties.

There are two thresholds. If a party wins 5% of the vote, they win list seats. However, a party may also win list seats if it wins any electorate seat.


PARTIES

New Zealand has two major parties, two mid-size parties, and a number of smaller parties.


National

The National Party, or Nats are New Zealand's answer to Canada's Conservatives. The Nats are a fairly moderate party in comparison, but Bill English's socially conservative views have some potential to change that. Like Stephen Harper, however, English is not expected to allow his social views to impact his governance.

The National is campaigning on continuing what is seen by many as the positive record of government over the past decade. It focuses on issues like Transportation, Justice, and Healthcare.


Labour

Labour is a moderate left party, similar to the Labor party in Australia, and more moderate Labour members in the UK. It is best compared in Canada to left-wing Liberals or moderate New Democrats.

With the resignation of Andrew Little, Labour is restarting its campaign. It focuses on change. Labour's transportation policy focuses more on rail than road. Labour wants to reverse the tax cuts in the most recent budget to invest the money in support for social services.


Greens

The Greens in New Zealand are a more traditional and left-wing group than that in Canada, and can better be compared to other Green parties elsewhere in the world. The scandals and controversies of late have harmed the Greens.

The party has taken a hard left turn in this election, wishing to increase welfare by 20% and hiking taxes on the richest by 40%. This comes after years of trying to moderate their platform. Most attention, however, has been focused on the scandals of the party.


New Zealand First

This party is seen as populist, but is in reality a vehicle for its leader, Winston Peters. Peters is very popular with a segment of the population, and his party is polling between 5% and 15% of the vote. Most expect that both National and Labour will require NZF support to form a government.

Policies include forcing the government to spend GST in the areas where it is collected, cancelling student loan debt for those willing to work in rural areas, cutting immigration from 73K a year to 10K a year, and holding a referendum on the Maori electorates.


ACT

ACT is a Pro-Business and Libertarian party. In practise, it is seen as propping up the Nats, electing 1 electorate seat without the votes needed for a list seat, thus adding a "free seat" to the Nats (compared to if the Nats had won the seat themselves)


Maori

Created as a party run by and for the Maori people, this left-wing party has run into trouble due to their support of the National government; polls show they may lose all of their seats.


TOP

This is a new party, and the only other party that can realistically win a seat at this point. TOP was founded by Gareth Morgan. The party wishes to tax assets in an effort to reform the tax system to better support wage earners, reduce immigration, and legalize marijuana. Interesting Morgan has called for all cats in New Zealand to be sterilized as to eliminate the cat population, reasoning they are a menace to nature.



PREDICTIONS

It is hard to predict a winner at this point. There are many questions, such as if the Greens will actually pass the threshold. As such there are three basic scenarios that could play out.


No Greens
54 Nats
54 Lab
11 NZF
1 ACT
This scenario would see Winston Peters get to choose the government.

Pro-English
54 Nats
46 Lab
11 NZF
8 Grn
1 ACT
It remains Winston Peters who is kingmaker, but Bill English now becomes the obvious choice for 'king' in this analogy.

Jacindamania
54 Lab
46 Nats
11 NZF
8 Grn
1 ACT
Not nearly as much of a stretch as might be imagined. Ardern is very popular. Still, however, it remains up to Winston Peters; but it appears that as of now, he slightly favours Labour over National.


I will, of course, keep you updated as things progress.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New alberta map

This post is largely a test; a new account to use to post on the same blog (long story)

However, I've decided to include my alberta map, latest version, so this is not simply a "wasted post"


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How to do Canadian seat diagrams

After a debate with a friend, I realized it may be useful to share this here.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Break and New Zealand

For a few months now, I've been getting in a few dollars on my Patreon each month, and this is what drove me to try to fill the summer with posts. Despite that, I do not think I've made quality posts this summer so far mostly, and, the donations have now dried up.

As such, I will be taking a short break of a week or two.

New Zealand goes to the polls on the 23rd of September, and on the 23rd of August, I hope to have an introduction post ready. Quite a bit has been going on in New Zealand in the past few weeks and months, so the election itself looks interesting.

Just within the past 2 weeks; Bill English (Prime Minister) has faced questions about his involvement in a major scandal, Jacinda Ardern has taken over as Labour leader (official opposition), two Green MPs resigned to protest the leader, and this was followed by the Green leader (one of the two co-leaders) resigning herself.

After nearly a decade of stable polling, Labour is now in a possible winning position, and weakness in the Greens may push them over the edge.

All will be detailed in my intro post on or before the 23rd.

While donations will not change my plans for a break, donating to my patreon does help keep me motivated. Money is very tight for me, and after paying for housing bills (rent, internet, power, and so forth) I have about $10 left to spend a day on food and everything else. Not having to worry about the few dollars to throw at other creators through patreon is a huge relief on my mind.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Introduction: Norway

The next election in Norway is expected on September 11th, 2017. One month from the date of this post.

As this is an introduction to post, I want to introduce the political scene in Norway. Since an election is upon us, I also want to discuss where things currently stand.

Since 2000, the three largest parties in Norway have been Labour, the Conservatives, and Progress.



Labour is a Social Democratic Party, that has won the plurality of seats in every election since 1927. A Labour member has been Prime Minister for all but 24 years since the end of WW2. Labour is expected to win the most seats in this election, as usual.

Labour can be thought of as a moderate left-wing nordic party, and the policies of Labour are often what people picture when they think of the policies of scandinavia. Of course, there is nuance beyond this; but this is an introduction post, intended to introduce Norway and the politics therein to people who may not know anything about Norway itself; and it is designed to be short and easy to digest.



The Conservatives currently provide the Prime Minister, Erna Solberg. She heads a 4 party coalition of moderate and right-wing parties. The Conservatives are a right-wing party, but very moderate compared to right-wing parties in places like Canada.

Socially the party is progressive, and it fits in well with other moderate conservative parties in Europe, and in Scandinavia in particular.



Progress, despite its name, is a nationalistic party, with a libertarian streak. The party is similar in some ways to the policies of Donald Trump. For many years, parties refused to work with Progress, but that changed in recent years due to a more moderate position on some issues.

Their main concern is immigration, and they wish to see the rates of immigration reduced. They are currently in the right of centre government coalition.




Poll suggest a 4th party has risen to join these parties as one of the larger parties in Norway.

The Centre Party is an Agrarian party, difficult to explain in the Canadian context, but in short, a party with strong rural support, but that is otherwise moderate. This would contrast with, in the Canadian context, "urban" right-wing figures such as current Toronto mayor John Tory, or former Calgary mayor Ralph Klein.

The Centre Party usually sits with Labour when in coalition, and much of its recent growth in the polls is due to weakness in Labour polling numbers.



Current polls show Labour with around 31.5% support, followed by the Conservatives around 23.5%, the Progressives around 13%, and the Centre Party around 10.5%

The five other parties that look set to win seats are all between 5% and 2% in the polls.


Socialist Left makes up the third party in the 'standard' or 'expected' Labour-Centre-Left coalition. While all 3 parties may not be in official coalition, in general, they can be expected to support one another so that even if outside the coalition, they will support the coalition on confidence matters. The party is hard left and socialist in nature, and is considered by most to be feminist.


The Christian Democrats often sit with the centre-right, and currently support the centre-right coalition government on confidence matters. They are socially conservative but otherwise moderate in policy.


The Liberal Party is a moderate centrist party with small l liberal values and ideas. They make up the 4th in what is usually considered the potential right of centre coalition, and like the Christian Democrats, support the current coalition on confidence matters.


The Green Party has so far avoided being lumped in to either left or right coalition. Their best result was in the last election in 2013 when they elected a single MP. Given the policies of the party, chances are if they were forced to choose, they'd back a left government over a right government.


The Red Party is currently seatless, and has never won a seat, but is polling at a level to potentially take a seat in the coming election. They are openly communist and propose a national income cap, charging 100% income tax above a certain level (roughly $250K Canadian a year)



Polls currently show the left-wing coalition of Labour, the Centre party, and the Socialist Left are in the lead, but only just. There may be the need of the Green member to join them to push them over the majority. Regardless, with a month to go, the Labour lead coalition should is ahead, but the current government is close behind, and Labour can take nothing for granted.




Monday, August 7, 2017

Alberta baseline


I've finished refining my alberta baseline. This is what I am assuming the starting position will be when the next election happens.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Personal post - Left and right

I was browsing twitter recently and a name popped up that I'd not thought of in a while. Reminded me of a story. Two stories, in fact, I wanted to share.


You see I used to post on the preeminent left-wing political discussion forum in Canada. The problem was that I was not very left-wing. Sure I'm progressive, but I'm a moderate, and even have some conservative views. Eventually, I left, but in doing so, it became known that I was suffering from mental illness, and was depressed, and suicidal.

That is when Audra, the admin, contacted me personally. For no reason other than to make sure I was okay. I was, but I still remember that the administrator of a large forum took time out of their day to personally contact me, just to make sure I was alright.

Many years later, I found myself on the preeminent right-wing political discussion forum in Canada. Again, while I do have some conservative views, in general, I'm moderate, and more progressive. Again, my mental illness caught up with me, and this time, I ended up in the hospital.

That's when Connie, the admin, sent me a get well card. She too, contacted me personally, for no reason other to to make sure I was okay.


Left and Right. Debate, discussion, and argument, and yet at the end of the day, I found the two "leaders" of online political discussion for both the left and the right in that era both were good decent individuals who cared about people

There are good people on all sides, and I just wanted to take a moment to call attention to two of them.

Thank you audra
Thank you connie