No Minister

A hung parliament?

I don’t have a lot of time to put a substantive post up on this, so I’ll pose this question for a lazy Sunday.

If there are only four parties in parliament post election, and given the Greens will support Labour and Act with National, could there be a possibility that neither side has enough votes to form a government?  Could we see Act support a Labour-led government on confidence, but not supply, or Greens do likewise with a National-led government?

I refer to confidence and not supply because they’re different beasts.
Anyway, I’m sure there are MMP experts out there who could do the maths on this, on the scenario NZ First gets, say, 3% and the Greens 6%.

The other fly in the ointment could be Act winning Epsom but getting 4.8% party vote causing an overhang.

Farrar should do a post on this.  I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable on the topic of MMP permutations.

Written by Nick K

August 2, 2020 at 8:26 am

Posted in New Zealand

14 Responses

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  1. The chances of the left and the right getting an equal share of the vote are remote. The Greens will not support a National led government and ACT will not support a Labour one. If the number of seats is very close then you might see a National speaker and a Labour PM or vice versa, but that’s about as far as it goes. If your scenario comes to be then HE will be a busy lady. Not sure why ACT at 4.8% causes an overhang. Enlighten?

    Max Ritchie

    August 2, 2020 at 8:41 am

    • Seymour will win Epsom, entitling Act to only 1 seat. But 4.8% gives them 6.
      Is this not an overhang situation?

      Nick K

      August 2, 2020 at 9:10 am

  2. No, the number of seats is based on % of votes. The overhang occurs when a party gets more electorates than its % of party votes. If ACT won 5 electorates but only 2% of party votes there’d be an overhang.

    Max Ritchie

    August 2, 2020 at 9:30 am

    • Correct.

      At present the only party in danger of creating an overhang is National, if they win more electorates than what they gain as a percentage of the party vote. So more seats above the 120 would be created for the term…and Labour would (on current polling) be the primary recipient.

      The chances of fewer parties making it in highlights the point that, even with all the permutations we have seen in MMP since 1996, the real “contest” has always been where does the left/right pendulum fall. In that sense it is still, and will always be like FPP – your “bloc” has to acquire enough votes to form a government. Talk of coalitions is secondary.

      Especially now an unprincipled spoiler like NZ First posing as a moderating principled centrist party (which was the ineffectual Peter Dunne’s vision for United) seems to be headed for the political scrap heap of history.


      August 2, 2020 at 10:36 am

    • Excellent. Thanks.

      Nick K

      August 2, 2020 at 12:08 pm

  3. Nick … were ACT to give confidence to Labour or the Greens the same to National then that would result in the decimation of that Party at the next election. Alternatively you might see defections (assuming of course Winston’s waka jumping legislation goes the way of his Party).

    The Veteran

    August 2, 2020 at 10:11 am

    • Yes, you’re right. I’m trying to think of a situation where the government could function without the need for another election.

      Nick K

      August 2, 2020 at 12:10 pm

  4. Limbo, that’s another way of saying what I meant: Will either bloc have enough votes to form a majority. I hadn’t considered an opposition speaker, because I think that’s very unlikely. An overhang created by National could mean the Left bloc needs 62 or 63 seats, minus the Speaker. Is it feasible this bloc gets 61, minus the Speaker, leaving 60 which possibly could be tied with the other bloc?

    Nick K

    August 2, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    • Er, Kimbo.

      Nick K

      August 2, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    • Limbo, not Kimbo sounds like an improvement, and if I end up repeating it I will blame you for my Freudian slip! 😳😂

      Yeah. I always get amused by pundits and experts talking about voters on either side of the Labour/National bloc divide moving their vote around “tactically” as if it is a significant game-changer, when it isn’t. Or lamenting that National likely have no “partners” to form a government when the real issue is there are insufficient (centre) right voters. So how you cut the cake on that side of the divide is irrelevant.

      There are only two caveats I can think of:

      Where an electorate votes for a minor party, knowing that they will be a likely coalition partner with overhang. The Maori Party has been the only one to get leverage out of the overhang that I can recall.
      When it goes horribly wrong for one of the two major parties, and their supporters decide that it is obvious they will lose, so to put a handbrake on the government which is not of their choice, they desert to a minor party. National voters in 2002 boosting NZ First and especially United Future to stop Helen Clark having an absolute majority with the Greens is the one example in the 8 MMP elections so far.


      August 2, 2020 at 1:07 pm

  5. Just going back to overhang: Kimbo says that Labour would benefit. That’s not so, the overhang only applies to the recipient. Another party getting 40% still get 40% of 120, not the 120 + overhang. We’ve had MMP for many years and it’s still confusing. I think the lawyer Edgler (sp?) is the only person who understands it. Possibly one other person, he says modestly (sarc).

    Max Ritchie

    August 2, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    • Sorry, I meant a party in the largest of the two Labour/National blocs would usually get the benefit as the additional overhang seats are to restore proportionality. As they are the primary vote winners, that is more likely to be a major party. And under current polling, and the “National winning more electorates than party seats” scenario, that would likely be Labour…or maybe the Greens (if they make it, as they likely will).

      But I stand to be corrected


      August 2, 2020 at 2:52 pm

  6. Nick … you possibly forget 2003 when National, needing to boost its majority, offered the Speaker-ship to Labour’s Peter Tapsell who accepted it to become one of our better Speakers. Interesting that his granddaughter is standing for National in East Cape having been mentored by Steve Chadwick, ex Labour Party Minister and currently Mayor of Rotorua, as a young person (Councillor) going places.

    The Veteran

    August 2, 2020 at 4:00 pm

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