A dicussion of bases

Welcome again to yet another column of minority report. This is the eleventh, so thanks for all loyal readers (all 2 of you) I have so far. In this column I will be discussing the concept of an electoral ‘base’ and in subsequent columns I will be analyzing what I view as the base(s) of individual micro parties. What is a base? According to wikipedia: “the term base refers to a group of voters who almost always support a single party’s candidates for elected office. Base voters are very unlikely to vote for the candidate of an opposing party, regardless of the specific views each candidate holds.” In New Zealand terms an electoral base is a group of voters who almost always support a political party regardless of any external political conditions and influences. The electoral base commonly provides the life blood, in terms of members, activists and recruits and funding of any political party, any political party withou a base will wither and die without any roots to the community. The bases of the two big parties provide a good point. The traditional base of the New Zealand Labour Party has been working class communities, unions and maori to some extent these hold true, but to quote Jordan Carter, the base of Labour has expanded to include “a rainbow hue of mixed ethnicities, origins, and a substantial and grounded liberal base that is where Labour finds very strong support indeed quite outside its traditional socio-economic bases.” The Labour Party has been able to expand it’s ‘traditional’ base without entirely destroying it’s reason for existence. The traditional base of the New Zealand National Party has been rural communities, business and upper-middle class people. To some extent, these hold true but the National Party’s success in the ‘traditional’ Labour seat of Waitakere illustrates that the National Party has been able to reach out to non-traditional voters. Both parties have had to expand beyond their ‘traditional’ bases to win seats in a FPP environment. However, before that they have needed some form of electoral base before getting big enough to do this. Micro-parties remain micro because they are unable to expand beyond their ‘niche base.’ In many cases their niche base is so small or diffuse as to be unable to win either an electorate seat or surpass the 5% threshold. In my next column(s), I will be analyzing micro-parties and their bases, but for now here’s a short sneak peak: Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis Party: • People who want cannabis legalized • Disaffected voters pissed with all parties (protest votes) • Tend to be young, most likely university students.

By-Election Blues For the Blues

Due to the strict electoral rules, I am unable to cover more of the upcoming OUSA by-election. This allows me to turn my beady eyes to the (perhaps more important) dynamics of the ‘micro-party factor’ in the Mt.Albert by-election. Although I already sorta covered it in a previous issue, I can now, with the benefit of additional information do a better analysis of micro parties in Mt. Albert. Specifically, how two seemingly disparate and unlikely parties may end up costing the National Party the Mt. Albert by-election.

 

So far, only two micro-parties have thrown their hat in the ring. The Kiwi Party has nominated Simonne Dyer with Larry Baldock calling her an ‘exceptional woman with a lifetime of service to many.. a former CEO of a large Hospital ship.’ Simonne appears to have displaced former Mt.Albert candidate Christian Dawson, the fact that the Kiwi Party felt the need to do this indicates that they will be taking this by-election very seriously. Their press release gives a hint of their campaigning strategy and intentions with Baldock saying that “No other candidate in this by-election will be speaking about importance of returning this nation to its foundational values. Hmm, might the Kiwi Party be fishing for the NZFirst reactionary vote? They go further, accusing National, Act, Labour and the Greens of working to ‘undermine timeless values.’ Wanting to return to the good old days? Check. Accusing other parties of a grand conspiracy? Check. Attempting to stir up a mood of moral panic and outrage for electoral gain? Check. If NZ First and United Future do not stand  any candidates, Dyer may very well pick up the NZ First vote in the last election (932) and the United Futurist vote (232), combine it with the Kiwi Party total (157) and reach the 1000 vote threshold. If she campaigns well enough, she may pick up upset Musukuites, who are annoyed with Head Office shoeing in Melissa Lee. (Ravi Musuku was the National Party candidate in the previous elections and intimately linked to the National Party’s Christian Wing) The best case scenario for the Kiwi Party is to rack up around 2000-3000 votes, coming fourth in a tight race, this will fuel intense mainstream media speculation that they cost National the by-election. Intense media speculation will lead to a higher profile to the Kiwi Party.

 

The other declared candidate for a micro party is Dakta Green from the Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis Party. Green’s last name may confuse voters who intend to vote for the Green Party. Green also shares one plank in common with the Green Party platform which is the de-criminalization of cannabis. Any vote that Green steals from the Greens will be a loss to National because in a FPP election, a vote for the Green Party is effectively a vote for the National

Overall, the two micro-parties that have declared candidates can end up losing  1000-3500 for the National Party. A not so insignificant number in what will undoubtedly be a close election.

Kiwi Party and Christian Politics

I know that my loyal readers (yes, all 2 of you) have been getting Micro-Party Watch withdrawals so it’s high time for an update :D This week I’m looking at the Kiwi Party and Christian Politics in New Zealand

The Kiwi Party represents the archetypal effort at creating a viable ‘mainstream’ Christian party and attempting to sell it off to the New Zealand Public. It contains the critical elements – has been politicians trying to relive their glory days, a splinter from a much larger political party, failed mergers with parties sharing 99% of their platform, a single-issue campaign that fails to gain much traction and perhaps most importantly, grand delusions of grandeur and a bad case of the Napoleonic Complex.

Gordon Copeland formed the breakaway party in the aftermath of the “Anti-Smacking Bill” introduced by Sue Bradford. Along with Larry Baldock, he considered the deprivation of the ability to mack your kids in the forehead with a chain an anathema to his brand of “Christianity.” When he left on 17 May 2007, he dragged with him the uber-conservatives of Peter Dunne’s United Future Party and attempted to form a holy union with Brian Tamaki’s Destiny New Zealand, Taito-Philip Fields and the other various ‘Christian’ parties which promptly fell apart before the Conference had even finished (in fact before it had even started.)

These various ‘Christian,’ which ironically as a label, the Kiwi Party rejects contested the 2008 Election and polled around 2.5% (the combined totals of United Future, Kiwi Party, Family Party and the Pacific Party.) Interestingly, of the 4 parties, only United Future and the Kiwi Party have remained. Copeland has managed to remain as the leader of the Kiwi Party, having been elected as the President of the Board of the Kiwi Party. Interestingly enough, it seems that Copeland does have some media contacts with TVNZ running the story on their website and TV ONE News.

The story of Christian politics in New Zealand has been one of mostly failures, the parties that have explicitly branded themselves as “Christian” such as the Christian Coalition have regularly failed to cross the 5% threshold. It is a crowder market, with most mainstream Christians voting along mostly secular lines for the two major parties. The Christians who see social justice issues as a foremost concern tend to break for Labour (or Jim Anderton’s Progressives) whereas the Christians who see social issues such as gay marriage and abortion as the main issues tend to vote right wing.

Copeland has a chance to win the portion of Christians who do not vote for the parliamentary parties, the Family Party and the Pacific Party are currently showing no signs of life. A very good campaign, along with the right socio-economic conditions and a fading Dunne could see the Kiwi Party pull out a shock victory (getting into parliament counts as such) and enter Parliament. Far more unlikely things have happened anyway.

It’s alive!!!

The Kiwi Party shows signs of life, they’ve elected Gordon Copeland as the new president of the board.

Still havent updated their site yet though! I had to hear about this in the MSM. Still, the fact that a party which polled 0.56% and get coverage in the MSM must mean that they have contacts.

The Micro-Micro Parties

 This week I’m going to take a quick look at the parties which failed to make last week’s top 7 list. Whether by vice of pursuing a platform so far from mainstream politics, having incompetent leadership, being so obscure that only their mums dads and immediate family have ever heard of them or by virtue of not wanting to actually get elected into parliament, these parties will never make it into parliament.

  1. The Bill and Ben Party: The joke party that got votes than the Alliance, Worker’s Party and RAM combined during last year’s general election. Despite this, they don’t actually have any policies or a philosophy which can rise above the cliched rantings of a drunken fresher. They probably wouldn’t want to get in anyway and would probably pull out at the first sign of them reaching the 5% threshold.
  2. Direct Democracy Party: The party that aimed to promote swiss style binding referendums headed by a Maori separatist by the name of Kelvyn Alp. Got into intellectual catfights with David Farrar and other bloggers at the 2005 election then faded away. Need I say more?
  3. The Family Party: Contested the 2008 election on the basis of protecting families claiming to represent ‘pro-family traditional Christians.’ Targeted the same audience as the Pacific Party without the malus of a court judgment. Did worse than the Bill and Ben Party, not since heard from.
  4. Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis Party: Electorally redundant as the Green Party shares a broadly similar approach to Cannabis legalization. Single issue parties don’t tend to do well in an economic recession either, especially ones about legalizing weed.
  5. New World Order Party: Promised an end to world poverty and to unify the world under a “New World Order.” Received free broadcasting time but did not contest the 2008 election. To this day, I’m still unsure whether or not they were serious or a highly talented performance art troupe.
  6. Republic of New Zealand Party: Used as a vehicle to advance party leader Kerry Bevin’s anti-feminist policies. Supports the abolition of the Treaty of Waitangi. Has done more damage to the Republican cause in New Zealand than that Republican guy who threw shit at the Queen. Would’ve done better as a single-issue party….
  7. The New Zealand National Front: The only party that can call protests and be outnumbered by counter protesters by 10 to 1. The only party that can splinter 3 different pieces in a single year. The only party that is just so totally incompetent that they’ve never managed to get themselves on the ballot. A far-right racist party intent on creating a white only New Zealand. Let’s hope they don’t figure out anytime soon.

Chances of Getting into Parliament?

As a result of the relative inactivity of the micro parties this week, weekly watch has been rescheduled for this post which will rank the top 7 micro-parties based on the chances of them getting into Parliament, my reasons for the ranking and a short analysis of their possibilities.

  1. New Zealand First: New Zealand First rises to the top of the electoral detritus. New Zealand First still has superior brand, most resources, most charismatic leadership and their recent election loss means that they will be hungry to get back into parliament. If/when the recession seriously hits New Zealand they can wheel out their well-worn populist economic rhetoric and get over the 5% threshold.
  2. The Alliance: The Alliance gets a close second. Like the Byzantine Empire, they can look back to the glories of the old days when they actually mattered. Their brand is well known and recognizable to an older generation of New Zealanders and university students. A merger with RAM and the Worker’s Party could unite the fractious non-parliamentary left and if the economic crisis worsens they just might be able to get back into parliament taking either Jim Anderton’s Sydenham seat or breaching the 5% threshold.
  3. The Kiwi Party: The Christian Heritage/Coalition’s good electoral showing in 2002 proved that there is a market in New Zealand for Christian Politics. Dissatisfaction of the Religious Right by John Key’s liberalism could provide the perfect opening for the The Kiwi Party. It could cast itself in this mould and either get 5% or Dunne’s Ohariu seat or a combination of both. However, there’s been no new news for them since the election finished and they may be dead.
  4. Resident’s Action Movement (RAM): The 2007 Local Council elections in Auckland showed their organizational strength in New Zealand’s most important city, the 2008 election election showed that this strength was on the back of a weak centre-left ticket. With the creation of the Auckland Super City, RAM has the potential to build their party from the ground up, winning community board posts and council seats. A weak looking Labour Party could provide the perfect opening for this micro party.
  5. The Worker’s Party: The Worker’s Party showed it’s presence last week over protests over the ‘Fire At Will’ Bill. Has a tiny core of hardened and dedicated activists, could unite the non-parliamentary Left under it’s banner and sweep to power on the back of an ever worsening recession.
  6. New Zealand Pacific Party: The fact that this party is at 6 despite Taito Philip-Fields being on trial for a variety of dodgy dealings speaks volumes about the quality of micro parties. Fields needs to pray, hard, that Labour implodes. Even then it might not matter, is it possible to run for public office from prison?
  7. LibertiaNZ: The libertarian field crowded enough with ACT. Hide’s flip-flopping on gang patches and their support for the prison industry and ‘tough’ law and order policies could provide them with a narrow opening in 2011. Has the added disadvantage of the current recession discrediting libertarianism.

Weekly Watch #002

Welcome again to another Weekly Watch! Where I scour the internet for signs of life amidst the ruined splendour of has-beens, wanna-bees and never-will bes. This week sees the Alliance, Worker’s Party and RAM rising in rank due to their strong and vibrant response to the ‘Fire at Will’ Bill which was introduced this(or if you prefer last) Sunday.

HatTip to Anita and the Kiwipolitico

The Alliance: The Alliance Party is showing that they are an active organization with a strong response to the introduction of the ‘Fire at Will’ bill and John Key’s job summit. Generated quite a bit of buzz around the left-wing blogosphere too, sadly for them it failed to gain any traction in the mainstream media. B

Bill and Ben Party:  Same mark as last week. Nothing new. C-

 New Zealand Democratic Party: No Changes. D-

 Direct Democracy Party: Effectively dead. F-

 The Family Party: No Changes. D

 

Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis Party: No changes. C

 LibertiaNZ: No changes besides their blog. C+

New World Order Party: Dead. F-

New Zealand First: Disappeared from all mainstream media coverage. Negligable netroots presence, would declare itdead if not for the fact that their grassroots probably sustains themselves differently. C

 New Zealand National Front: Effectively defunct. D-

 Kiwi Party: Defunct. D-

 New Zealand Pacific Party: Website back, no updates since election. C-

 Republic of New Zealand Party: Effectively dead. F

 Residents Action Movement: Kudos to them for showing a physical presence and an active web presence with Oliver Woods’ blog being frequently updated. As per the Alliance I have given them a . B

 Workers Party: Showed  strong signs of life this/last weekend. Frequent updates on their official website. B