Dystopian campaign ads

We don’t often see negative campaign ads in New Zealand, at least not anywhere near the scale that you get in the US.

Slate have done a fantastic article on dystopian ads – where they advertiser portrays the potential disasters electing their opponent will create. The whole article is worth checking out, but this brilliant one from Rick Santorum is quite special…

Obamaville is a place where all the women are terrified, all the men are oppressed, and all the gas prices are above average. It’s the setting of the most popular Rick Santorum commercial of all time; half a million YouTube clicks for a video set in a dark, dramatically edited 2014.  Santorum isn’t the first candidate to try to scare Americans into voting for him. There’s a history here, a rich tradition of ads from candidates who predict doom if they don’t win. These candidates, being desperate, usually lose. America endures. But the ads keep coming anyway.

Labour’s review – have your say

Labour’s organisational review is on-going. I went to the Wellington City meeting a few weeks ago, and it was an interesting affair. There were a lot of thoughts flying around the room. Some really good ideas. One or two that I didn’t personally agree with as well, but I think it’s really important with a process like this to get as many points of view as possible.

The current phase of consultation closes first thing on Monday morning. If you haven’t already done so, I’d highly recommend you take five minutes to make a quick submission on the review website. I’ve just made my submission – I didn’t answer all the questions, but I did have one or two points that I emphasised.

Regardless of if you’re a member, or just interested or concerned about the future of the Labour Party, I’d urge you all to take a few minutes to make a submission. It’s painless!

News looking good for the European left

The French elections are quickly approaching, and things are looking good (but not great) for Socialist candidate François Hollande

A quick look at the 13 – yes, 13 – polls carried out recently reveals … not a lot for the first round, next month.

Four suggest Sarkozy is leading, seven have the socialist candidate, François Hollande, ahead, and two have them neck-and-neck. The leader of the far-right Front National (FN), Marine Le Pen, is given a first-round score ranging from 13.3% to 18%, in an election when even 1% is going to make a difference.

Six of the 13 polls give the former prime minister, and Sarkozy’s sworn enemy, Dominique de Villepin between 1% and 1.5%. There is only one problem: he’s not even standing.

Interesting times.

Then in Spain, the austerity budgets of the recently elected People’s Party (Conservative) government are coming up against massive resistance

Spain‘s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, faces the toughest week of his three months in office as he is forced to announce up to €40bn (£33.45bn) in spending cuts and taxes in a budget on 30 March, the day after a general strike.

Rajoy was recently forced to backtrack by fellow EU leaders who refused to accept the deficit target of 5.8% of GDP Spain set unilaterally for this year. They told him to cut to 5.3%.

Queensland and proportional elections

Firstly, commiserations to Anna Bligh, her team and my ALP colleagues who fought so hard for Queensland. Also, congratulations to Campbell Newman – the size of his win is impressive indeed.

One thing that has struck me though, is just how un-proportional the results are. For example, Bligh’s Labor Party received 26.6% of the first preference votes, yet they are only predicted to gain seven seats in the 89 seat Parliament (roughly 8% of the seats).

I’ve crunched some numbers and determined what the Queensland state parliament would look like if they used a purely proportional voting system, with a 5% threshold. It’s important to note that there are other systems out there, such as New Zealand’s MMP, which would allow for the two independents to maintain seats and would change the makeup of Parliament. It also demonstrates the size of Newman’s LNP win – even with a proportional voting system they manage to get a majority of the seats in the parliament – something traditionally very rare with systems like this.

It leaves me feeling very grateful that here in New Zealand we have a proportional voting system!

What the current makeup of the Queensland parliament looks like.
What the Queensland parliament might look like with a proportional voting system.
Party % Vote Predicted Actual Seats Proportional Seats
Labour 27% 7 25
Liberal National 50% 78 46
Greens 8% 0 7
Australian 12% 2 11
Others 5% 2 0
Total 89 89

A big day in politics

Two big events for social democratic parties this weekend.

The first is the Queensland state election. It’s expected that Labor are going to lose – but there may be a silverlining is they can prevent opposition leader Campbell Newman from winning a seat.

The other event is the Canadian NDP leadership convention, which is underway. I haven’t been following it closely and have no idea who will prevail.

I’ll probably be live tweeting the evening – feel free to follow!

Nick Leggett on the role of local government

Nick Leggett, the Mayor of Porirua City, has caused a few headlines this week with his take on the government’s proposed local government reforms.

His main point is that councils’ first priority must be infrastructure, but that does not mean that they don’t have a moral obligation to look at the wider picture and highlight areas of need or concern to central government and advocate on behalf of the community.

He made the point very well on Back Benches this week…

How much did each vote cost?

The electoral commission has just realeased the party vote expense returns. Well worth a read. The stand out figure is the massive $1.7m that the Conservative Party spent. I would be very interested to know how much of that came from Colin Craig.

I’ve matched the expenditure against the number of party votes each party received to figure out how much each vote cost. The big losers at the Conservatives ($31.78 per vote) and ACT ($25.83). At those rates, it would have cost the Conservative Party $3,579,006 and ACT $2,915,328 to reach the 5% threashold.

At the other end of the spectrum you have the Aotearoa Leagalise Cannabis Party who spent $4,003 and managed to get over 11 thousand votes – achived largely off the back of their party name rather than their advertising efforts.

Party Name Cost Per Party Vote
Conservative Party  $31.71
ACT  $25.83
Democrats for Social Credit  $20.23
Greens  $3.15
Labour  $2.91
Mana  $2.49
Māori Party  $2.26
National  $2.19
United Future  $2.06
Alliance  $1.99
Libertarianz  $1.73
New Zealand First  $1.06
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party  $0.34

Economy continues to stall

More bad news on the economic front.

The economy grew a weaker than expected 0.3 per cent in the December quarter, with a boost from the Rugby World Cup and a good season for farmers offset by a fall in manufacturing.

Economists had expected economic growth of about 0.6 per cent in the December quarter.

GDP was up a modest 1.4 per cent for the year ended December 2011, lower than the 1.6 per cent forecast by economists.

I’m not an optimist – but even I’m surprised how bad this is. Despite the RWC we are still stuck in a rut. Not good at all.

How’s that cycle way looking?

The market responds to the Nick Smith scandal

The Nick Smith scandal is just getting bigger. This morning there are new claims about the “nature” of the relationship between the former ACC minister and Bronwyn Pullar – the National Party member who received highly sensitive information about 6700 ACC clients. From the NZ Herald

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister John Key to authorise a formal inquiry into former ACC Minister Nick Smith’s involvement in his friend Bronwyn Pullar’s case amid speculation about the past nature of their friendship.

During a snap debate in Parliament, NZ First leader Winston Peters called for Dr Smith to resign or be removed from Cabinet, describing the furore as “a shabby little case involving blackmail, sex, a minister with a conflict of interest”.

And Opposition leader David Shearer last night called for Dr Smith to resign or be sacked for trying to influence ACC’s treatment of Ms Pullar.

It’s interesting to see the different responses to this turn of events.

The long-standing iPredict stock on the departure of a minister in 2012 had been trading at $0.79 for the past week, until it spiked back up to $0.85 on Sunday evening.

iPredict have also launched a new stock – ‘Nick Smith to lose all his Ministerial warrants before 1 April 2012‘ – which is probably a pretty good bet despite the short time frame. It’s currently trading at $0.18 but I’d expect that to go up dramatically during the day.

Update: In the half hour or so since I published this post, the odds of Nick Smith being given the boot have skyrocketed to $0.44