A Brief Explainer on the 2020 New Zealand Election.

So as of this posting, it will be 7PM New Zealand Time, and the 2020 New Zealand General Election will be over. Now, all there is to do is to count the votes and see what the shape of the next New Zealand Government will be. Since I feel safe in assuming that most people here are not from New Zealand and do not understand the intricacies of New Zealand Politics, consider this a primer to the election so you can say something more than “Jacinda Ardern seems great”.

How does the System Work?

Assuming that most people reading this are from the US or UK and are familiar with First Past the Post, the intricacies of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) can seem weird, so here’s how that works. Every election, everyone gets two votes, Party and Electorate. Electorate Vote is your standard First Past the Post-election, where there are 70 seats in total. There are a bunch of candidates running, and whoever gets the most votes wins. Where this gets interesting is how Party Vote assigns the remaining 50 seats.

Party Vote lets you vote for a Party, and the seats are assigned by the proportion of these votes received. So, if you get 35% of the Party Vote, you get 35% of the seats. Now to get in, you need to receive 5% of these votes, unless your Party wins an electorate. This is how Act, a Party that hasn’t been over 5% since 2002 has remained in Parliament, as they hold the electorate of Epsom.

So, who are the big parties?

Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern

Labour. The Centre-Left party headed by Jacinda Ardern. They’re a fairly bog-standard Centre-Left Party, wanting to improve things for the poor and working, but they’re not particularly interested in rocking the boat too much. Since getting into power three years ago, it’s been fairly stable (in large part of the coalition of New Zealand First), with incremental gains around the edges. Of course, that’s not what’s defined the term. It’s been Jacinda Ardern being handed truly horrifying tragedy in the Christchurch Shooting and the Covid-19 Outbreak and handling them brilliantly. It’s why this election was originally looking close, but they are now polling around 47%, and now may be the first party to govern alone in New Zealand in the MMP-era.

National Leader Judith Collins

National. The Centre-Right Party headed by Judith Collins. They’re a fairly standard (Non-US) Centre-Right Party, wanting to make things easier for Businesses, but they’re not particularly interested in rocking the boat too much. Before the pandemic, they were looking like they had a real shot at making it back into Government. Since then though, their polling has absolutely cratered, and the Party has fallen apart. Originally Simon Bridges was going to be leading the party, but he got rolled because National wanted that shot they thought they had. Then they brought in Todd Muller, who did nothing. Now they have store brand Margaret Thatcher in Judith Collins, who has been very bad at campaigning. They’re polling around 32%.

Green Leaders James Shaw & Marama Davidson

Green Party. The Left-Wing Party headed by James Shaw and Marama Davidson. They’re big on things like environmental issues and Progressivism on Economic Matter. Now back when Labour were being a disintegrating Centre-Left Party in that gap between Helen Clark and Jacinda Ardern, they were polling in the double digits while the Centre Wing of the party and the Left Wing of the party were working well together, and were even open to the concept of getting into coalition with National. Now though, it’s shifted more to the Left, and will only work with Labour. They’re polling around 6%.

Act Leader David Seymour

Act. The Right-Wing Party headed by David Seymour. They’re very much in that modern Libertarian lane, wanting lower taxes and less Government. While they’ve been the National Party Epsom Branch for the last nine years with their one MP, they have built themselves into a more viable party, going for those Right-Wing wedge issues (Guns in particular), and are about to make it over the 5% threshold for the first time since 2005 thanks to that and National being a dumpster fire. They are polling around 7%.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters

New Zealand First. The Winston Peters Party headed by Winston Peters. They are probably the closest Party with a shot of getting in like those Far-Right Parties you see in Europe, but there are a lot of differences there thanks to the Winston Peters of it all. I guess that the best way to describe him is to state that he is a disciple of Robert Muldoon, the Prime Minister back from 1975-84, who was our most Left-Wing Prime Minister economically, but Right-Wing socially. It’s why they have over the years spent six years in Coalition with Labour, and only two with National. Even then, I still do not feel like I’m explaining this well, and all I can really say is that he’s Winston. They’re polling around 3%, but do have a history of jumping on the day.

There are also some smaller Parties in the Maori Party (focuses on Maori issues and are only running in the Maori Seats), The Opportunities Party (Liberal Centrists), New Conservative (Bible Clenching Trump Dumbasses), and Advance New Zealand/Public Party (Facebook conspiracy posts come to life), but they’re very unlikely to make it into Parliament, they don’t get a write-up.

So Labour are going to win, right?

Unless the polling is wildly off, almost certainly.

So is there anything worth looking at?

Yes. Right now, Labour has a real shot of being the first Party of winning over 60 seats in Parliament, even if the Greens make it in. So while the Prime Minister is almost certainly going to be Jacinda Ardern, seeing if they’ll need the Greens or Winston is still very much up in the air. Also, I made a bet with a friend that Labour will get 45% or over, and I would very much like that $20.

When will the results be available?

You will start to get a picture of things in the first half-hour as the early vote will be up early, and the rest will be counted as the night progresses. Due to the record amount of early voting however, I would not be surprised if the numbers do not move much throughout the night, though you never know.

Where can I get the results as they come in?

The Electoral Commission’s website (electionresults.govt.nz) is just the raw numbers and will give you a picture of where things are. If you want people to explain the numbers to you though, Radio New Zealand, One News, Maori TV, and Three News will all be doing election night broadcasts as they usually do. I’ll probably watch Radio New Zealand’s, though I may go for One News because it’s sleeker and they have John Campbell.

Aren’t there also Referendums?

Yes, there are also Referendums for Legalising Cannabis and Euthanasia. Those results however will be counted after the election count, so they will not be revealed until October 30th. As a result, I couldn’t be fucked writing about them. Though based on the polling, Euthanasia is looking good, Cannabis is not.

Do you have sources?

Yes, here they are.

I had more, but I wrote this on election day, and News Sites scrub all of their Political News from Midnight to 7PM on Election Day to comply with Election Law.

Is there anything else to worry about?

Not really. You could get in the spirit and make a Pavlova though, they’re fantastic.