Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Election 08: Key Urges NZ To Work Together – Clark Stands Down – ACT in Box Seat – Winston Is Gone & Roger Douglas Returns

November 8th, 2008

Live blogged by Scoop Co-editor Alastair Thompson

Postscript – 11am 9 November 2008 – Historically speaking the scale of National’s 45.5% vote share in this election is remarkable. It is far and away the largest MMP majority ever achieved, and high even in FPP terms. Labour achieved a little over 41% under MMP in the last 2 elections, 2002 and 2005, and you have to go back to the First Past the Post elections of 1987 (Labour 48%) and 1990 (National 48%) to find popular vote percentages higher than National’s 45.5% in this election. The 4th Labour Govt’s 1984 victory came with 43% of the vote and you then have to go back to Muldoon’s 1975 victory (48%) and Norman Kirk’s 1972 victory (48%) to get back over the 45% mark. Keith Holyoake’s 1969 victory with 45.2% of the vote is the closest recent election total. Meanwhile the Green Party’s 6.4% in this election is remarkably close to their 1990 FFP result – which also saw a National change of Government – of 6.85%. Labour’s 33.7% in 2008 is their lowest percentage since 1996 and is lower than they achieved in 1990 (35%) and 1993 (34.7%).

1am – At the end of the night tonight the MP count is National 59 : Labour 43 : Green 8 : ACT 5 : Maori 5 : Progressive 1 :United Future 1 – in a 122 seat Parliament. The Government elect block looks likely to lose one more seat to the Greens on special votes, after which National, ACT and United will have 64 MPs – two votes over the 62 majority required. United’s Peter Dunne has indicated his concerns around working with Roger Douglas already. Clearly the new opposition are also alarmed at the return of Roger.

All of which begs a few questions:
While this is an electoral landslide in MMP terms,  is it  a mandate for radical change?
What concessions will ACT seek and what will the National Government be willing to grant?
How will the transition to a new set of economic leaders be effected in the middle of the biggest economic crisis in several decades?

Some things we can guess at. The incoming National Government could be assisted to become unpopular very quickly with too much Roger Douglas in the frame. The key issues which the incoming Government faces – dealing with the financial crisis prudently and compassionately – are issues in which Roger Douglas’s laissez fair instincts would seem  to be particularly unhelpful.

Meanwhile the overwhelming media impact of the US electoral battle has left the public remarkably in the dark about what a National ACT government is likely to do. Public Private Partnerships seem likely. Employment reforms and ACC privatisation are also on the agenda.

In terms of lessons the most obvious one to this writer is that the decision of Clark and Key not to debate with the minor parties has been disastrous for MMP. How much did this media strategy decision contribute to the apparent decline in minor party vote? While it was probably the Labour and National Party leader’s intention to cut back minor party influence, how well has this served the voting public? And how well has it served the Labour Party? Would Clark have appeared more attractive to the public positioned along side Fitzsimmons, Turia, Sharples and Anderton?  

On current numbers 6.55% of the vote (4.21% of which was for NZ First) has not counted towards the final result. National and ACT together have a shade over 49% of the vote which is not an overwhelming mandate for change. The discarded vote means that the scale of their victory has been magnified.

That said clearly tonight is a watershed in NZ politics. John Key has a personal majority in Helensville of over 18,000 votes. He has been chosen to lead. And so the old order of things has gone, and the media will have a target rich environment in coming days as the full form of the new Government emerges from discussions between National, ACT, the Maori Party and Peter Dunne.

In this environment the Maori Party (and arguably the Greens too) can play a part to provide a National Government with some assurances that it does not need to bow to unreasonable demands from Roger Douglas, Roger Kerr and the interests that they represent. It will be a serious test of John Key’s leadership how he navigates a course for National through these shoals. His challenge will be to form a Government which truly is, as he pledged, “for all New Zealanders”.

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12am – PM Elect John Key announces he has spoken to ACT Leader Rodney Hide and United Future’s Peter Dunne and been given assurances that they will support National to form the next Government. He also said he had spoken to the Maori Party and expected to talk to them this coming week. He paid tribute to Prime Minister Helen Clark and called for the nation to work together pledging to work for “all New Zealanders”.

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11.32pm – Prime Minister of NZ 1999-2008 Helen Clark concedes defeat ending her speech with an announcement that she is standing down before Christmas as leader of the Labour Party. She thanks many and ends her speech with a warning that she hopes that a “bonfire of right wing” politics doesn’t burn all the gains that have been made by the NZ economy during nine years of growth under the Labour Party.

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10.48pm – We can welcome Roger Douglas back into a position of power tonight – if not a place at the Cabinet table as per PM Elect John Key’s assurances. Roger is part of an ACT party that holds the balance of power and National ACT Government can now be declared in all but name. All that remains is a coalition agreement and just what ACT will be asking for will be interesting to watch. Winston has well and truly lost, and the man in the yellow jacket, who danced back into the public’s favour (albeit dropping Crystal) is now in the box seat. The nation awaits a concession speech from Clark. Labour has been annihilated in the electorates. This is a landlslide.

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9.12pm – The Scoop editorial team have decided that the gap is now too large for the left block to make up. National is likely to shortly be declared as Government elect. While late vote may claw back up to four of the 67 seats currently held by National + ACT + United, there is now no realistic prospect of the left block making up the difference. The failure of NZ First party to make 5% looks likely to be a major factor in the final result.

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8.52pm – With bigger booths now coming in the headline vote percentages are finally starting to move as expected. National plus Act has lost one seat but with 66 seats is still in a commanding lead. Labour is edging towards 32% and National towards 47%. Note that as the total vote counted increases – currently at 25% – larger numeric changes are required to effect the overall percentages. NZ First’s percentage has declined to 4.34% and is on the way down – it looks as if NZ First is finally gone.

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8.39pm – With 15.7% of the vote counted National is still holding firm on 48.8% of the party vote. NZ First has declined a smidgen to 4.45% and the Greens have advanced to 6.33%. Labour is still languishing on 31.26%.

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8.31pm – The close electorate races at present include Auckland Central (National ahead), Wellington Central (National ahead), Christchurch Central (Labour’s Brendon Burns behind), Otaki (National’s Nathan Guy ahead by 21), Waitakere (National’s Paula Bennett ahead by 25) and Rimutaka where Labour’s Christopher Hipkins is just 69 votes ahead of National. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch Central are presumably questionable due to the early booths being small and blue, but the Rimutaka and Waitakere early results are somewhat shocking for Labour.That all these races are running so close seem to indicate a disastrous night ahead for Labour in the electorates. On a brighter note Labour’s Parekura Horomia is now opening up a bit of a lead on Derek Fox in Ikaroa-Rawhiti. Nanaia Mahuta still looks like she is in trouble in Hauraki-Waikato with only an 84 vote lead over Angeline Greensill.

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7.55pm – In the early count in the Maori seats the Maori Party is well ahead in all seats except Hauraki-Waikato, where Nanaia Mahuta is ahead by 100, and Ikaroa-Räwhiti where Parekura Horomia heads Derek Fox by 100 votes.  In the early count NZ First looks to be dead in the water in Rimutaka (Ron Mark is running third) and Tauranga (Winston is already 1815 votes behind)  and will likely need to make the 5% threshold.

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7.37pm – National is off to a roaring start. With 5% of the vote counted the National Party is recording almost 50% of the vote. Early vote totals tend to favour the National Party as the first booths to report tend to be smaller rural polling places. Also interesting is the fact that NZ First with 4.63% is making a credible short at the 5% threshold. They had been written off by most commentators.

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    1. 20 Responses to “Election 08: Key Urges NZ To Work Together – Clark Stands Down – ACT in Box Seat – Winston Is Gone & Roger Douglas Returns”

    2. By Steve Withers on Nov 9, 2008 | Reply

      It’s certainly a shift away from Labour. If National wants to be more than a one-term government, they will have to look after the 6% or 7% who left Labour for National. These are fickle voters. They remained loyal to Labour for three terms. With Helen Clarke gone and a new face for Labour, they well come back soon if National fails to live up to the expectations set. This is not the time for a lurch to the Right…..however tempting that may be.

    3. By rj on Nov 9, 2008 | Reply

      Trivia. John Key was born on August 9th, 1961. Barack Obama was born on August 4th, 1961. Obama won the US election on Tuesday 4th November. Key won the NZ election on Saturday 8th. So Key was one day younger.

    4. By louis on Nov 9, 2008 | Reply

      i love labour and am a staunch supporter. Go helen.
      I am sad shes gone. but at least we still have winnie

    5. By Peter on Nov 9, 2008 | Reply

      Clearly there needs to be some adjustments made to MMP! How can ACT with 3.7% of the vote get 5 seats in parliament and NZ First with 4.2% get no seats!
      There is too much emphasis on the electoral seats under the current system. A better way would be to have a total of 120 MP’s, only 20 electoral seats, 100 party list seats and scrap the 5% threshold.

    6. By steve lu on Nov 9, 2008 | Reply

      My My My what a lovely big hole you have down their,and you did it all by your own selves huh,what wonderfull clever people.Mr Douglas and Mr Ker must be rubbing there hands with glee about now dont ya think?.

    7. By Katherine on Nov 9, 2008 | Reply

      Roger Douglas appeared half pissed. He burbled on, consumed and dogmatic, wedded to some historic vision that continues to burn brightly in the whiskey-lit tunnels of his 70 yr old brain. Too strange, like seeing the dead rise up to eat the living. John Key is a fraud, a focus-group manequin brought to life by tetchy voters. Binglish is Binglish, an ambitious stone. But at least we’ll have an intelligent opposition again. That’s something to look foward to.

    8. By Jane on Nov 9, 2008 | Reply

      John Key is the snake oil salesman who has convinced the gullible Nats and the aspirational voters (who always vote against their own interests) that he has the “answer” to making New Zealand more successful. Bring it on, John. We’re waiting to see how it’s all going to be so much better under your “expert” guidance because you know so much about making money, right?

    9. By CJ on Nov 10, 2008 | Reply

      So what the hell are you on ‘Katherine’?
      If I can filter out your Dali-esque meanderings, I take it you believe there’ll be ‘intelligent opposition’? Looks like this opposition of yours might be led into the headlights of reality by Phil Goff closely followed by such intellectual giants as Clayton Cosgrove.
      Phil Goff rather reminds me of Bill Rowling – you know the guy who just couldn’t win an election. There are some marked differences however – Bill Rowling had intelligence, an astute mind and a quick wit.
      Looks like you’ll enjoy your ‘intelligent opposition’ for some time.

    10. By stuart munro on Nov 10, 2008 | Reply

      Given the choice between fools and scoundrels, it is remarkable how often people choose the latter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better argument for structural reform than this non-election.

    11. By Observer on Nov 10, 2008 | Reply

      We reap what we sow and time will tell if we weep what we’ve sown.

    12. By Margaret Swift on Nov 10, 2008 | Reply

      During this campaign I acted as Campaign manager in Hunua. How many times did I hear Dr Paul Hutchinson, (Nationals sitting Candidate,) say “The National Party was born in 1936 to offer a opposition to the welfare state where everyone could stand alone and be responsible for themselves”.
      This is the philosophy that generates the selfish, “I care only about myself attitude”, which sows the seeds of disrespect in our society.

      The problem with this attitude, is that those very people who do not care for their fellow man, expect their fellow man to care about them enough to make this the kind of society they want to live and bring up their families in.

      Those seeds sown in the 90′s have grown matured and seeded again.
      National going to build more prisons to keep the crop of those who were made to feel disrespectful away from society, while John Key tills the soil to sow the seeds for the next crop of disrespectful citizens who are disinfranchised by this attitude.

    13. By Brian Marshall on Nov 10, 2008 | Reply

      This was a definitive move away from Labour by the voting public. If Labour were not so self serving and ignoring what the public were saying, they may have had different result.
      They lead a negative campaign bent on personalities rather than policies and in the end the people saw them for what they are…..
      Thieves who stole from the public purse and changed the law to make what was illegal and defined as corrupt, changed the law and back dated it so they could not be brought to justice.

      The seeds of the 2008 National Victory were sown in the lies and self interest of the electrol finance act.

    14. By Margaret Swift on Nov 10, 2008 | Reply

      The Negative campaign was run by National over a period of 3 Years.
      The Electoral Finance Act was brought into force so that a Patriachal religious group who does not vote could take over the governance of our Country.
      It may have been “Time for change” that does not alter the cause and effect of “I care only about myself” attitude.

    15. By Brian Marshall on Nov 11, 2008 | Reply

      Say what you like Margaret, but it was Labour with a negative Campaign.
      National did not resort to secret taping, Rich prick comments, or trying to find dirt on John Key from over 20 years ago.
      The facts are, Labour did not have one positive message on TV advertisments at all that I can recall.

    16. By Brian Marshall on Nov 11, 2008 | Reply

      Actually Margaret, the religious group the Exclusive Brethen can vote, but due to dogma do not.
      They are citizens and entitled to make known their views too, just like the other groups in the country like the unions including my own.
      By demonising them, you are no better than Nazis demonising the Jews.

    17. By stuart munro on Nov 12, 2008 | Reply

      Yeah, but Brian, they tried to buy the election result, and almost certainly cost the Greens two seats in the last election.
      It was dirty pool, and someone should’ve gone to prison for it. But Labour thought by letting them go they’d taint National enough to help in the next election.
      For the same reason they propped up Winston – next to Winston almost anything looks good.
      It was cynical and self-serving, and they have their well-deserved comeuppance.
      But the Exclusive Brethren’s attempt to subvert the election was still outrageous, and butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth John Key was an accomplice along with Don Brash.
      I don’t want any more sneakiness in our elections, our politicians are foetid enough as it is. There was plenty wrong with the electoral finance act – but the Exclusive Brethren were out of order.
      Votes, not money must decide elections – or why not guns.

    18. By Graham on Nov 12, 2008 | Reply

      The fact is the turnout was very low. Most likely those misleading polls kept Labour/ Green voters away. There were still a lot of undecided voters and I’ve seen some strong indications they were Labour Green Voters. 5% more labour voters would have made a big difference but our side were led to believe there was no chance of victory.

    19. By Grant on Nov 16, 2008 | Reply

      Margaret: “National going to build more prisons to keep the crop of those who were made to feel disrespectful away from society”

      Society is to blame when someone rapes , steals or murder because they were made to feel disrespectful? How exactly? We have had nine years of a “it’s always someone else’s fault or can be explained away” nanny state govt. Of course being held responsible for your own actions would never even cross your mind would it?

    20. By Margaret Swift on Nov 17, 2008 | Reply

      reply to Grant 16 Nov.

      Rape theft and murder all have their begginnings in the “cause and effect” natural laws,

      I have always been responsible, except for 1 bout of sickness I have always been employed, never been in trouble with the law, have no outstanding fines, no credit card debt, and I dont owe any tax. I think thats pretty responsible don’t you.

    21. By old joe on Nov 18, 2008 | Reply

      labours lost is quite simple to explained the right wing press as been pushing for national for the last two years see the the dom post letters to the paper have beening 8 to 1 in the favour of national views and you can repeat that for most of nz daily papers you could say that kiwis have been treated like mushrooms kept in the darkand fed on bull sh–.

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