New Zealand Nail-Biter
If you're in New Zealand, you know the parliamentary election results - but most of you are not in New Zealand. So, the unofficial breakdown of parliament is as follows. (62 seats needed for majority)
Labor - 50 seats (-1)
National - 49 seats (+22)
New Zealand First - 7 seats (-6)
Green - 6 seats (-3)
Maori - 4 seats (+3)
United Future - 3 seats (-5)
ACT - 2 seats (-7)
Progressive - 1 seat (-1)
Disclaimer: These are not official as "special votes" (I need to look up what that means) have not yet been counted. As some seats are decided based on percentage of the nationwide vote, a small percentage change could bump a party up or down by one seat.
Anyway, this is a very interesting result, as the Leftists (Labor) and Conservatives (National) are separated by only one seat. Most speculation is that Labor will form the government, but that is by no means certain - as they are 11 votes shy of majority and will need the support of several other parties. Labor has almost guaranteed support from the Progressives (1 seat) and the Greens (6). Labor is also courting United Future (3) and Maori (4). NZ First (7) has said it will not join either side in government but will vote for the largest party.
Sounds like a slam dunk, right? Wrong! There is a BIG problem: NZ First and United Future both hate the Greens' guts and have vowed not to join them in government. A Labor/Green/ Progressive coalition would have only 57 seats, with a National/NZ First/United Future/ACT block garnering a total of 61 sets. This leaves the balance of power in the hands of the Maori Party (4 seats), and that's where it gets interesting.
Maori is a very young party, formed only 15 months ago when Member of Parliament (MP) Tariana Turia broke away from Labor. So, while Labor and Maori are very similar ideologically, they have a lot of baggage as a result of the split. Turia has said that she is talking to both sides (and high ranking ethnic Maoris) and will have made a decision within the week. Most people see her joining a Labor coalition, but it's not a sure thing.
The other wild card is the special votes, which could affect one or two seats; and this entire scenario goes down the tubes if NZ First and/or United Future set aside their hatred of the Greens to support Labor.
No matter what happens, the resulting coalition will be shaky at best. Most people are saying that the criteria for choosing a new government should be to decide which party can hang on to power for three years without a no-confidence vote. I hate to pop their bubble, but that is NOT going to happen. The polls may be closed, but this election is far from over.
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