The polity that is New Zealand

by on October 19, 2017 at 7:54 am in Current Affairs | Permalink

Sometimes proportional representation systems throw up surprising results, as they just did in New Zealand.  National won the biggest share of the vote at 44%, but the new government is a coalition between Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern:

Ardern’s stunning popularity was dismissed as “stardust” by English, but she went on to experience huge support from young voters and women and was credited with breathing life back into the New Zealand political scene.

Her personal popularity and the huge crowds she drew around the country was hailed “Jacindamania”, and she was compared to rock-star politicians such as Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau.

A Labour government has pledged to wipe out child poverty, make tertiary education free, reduce immigration by 20,000-30,000, decriminalise abortion, introduce a water tax and make all rivers swimmable within 10 years.

Here is the full story, further evidence that politics is changing for good, and not just because of narrow economic reasons.  Last year the New Zealand economy grew 3.9%.  Jacinda by the way “Was brought up as a Mormon but left the church over its anti-homosexual stance.”

1 Art Deco October 19, 2017 at 7:59 am

Jacinda by the way “Was brought up as a Mormon but left the church over its anti-homosexual stance.”

The obvious follow-up question is to ask her why that was a deal-breaker. You weren’t curious about that, and neither was the reporter, no doubt.

2 A Truth Seeker October 19, 2017 at 8:27 am

Because she doesn’t have anything against homossexuals? She, for the better or worse, is a liberal who supports “marriage equality” and liberalization of abortion laws? She probably does not like coffee that much to it be an issue and she is too young to Mormon racism be of any bearing here.

The interesring thing is that she actually left the church she disagrees with. Either she is a particularly honest politician or the Mormons are more strict with their followers than, say, the Catholics.

3 The Lunatic October 19, 2017 at 12:57 pm

By the time you can logically leave the LDS over its views on homosexuality, you should have already left over its views of the authority of those persons the church designates as “prophet, seer, and revelator”. Much like, before you can logically leave the Catholic Church over its views on homosexuality, you should have already left over the claims of the sacred magisterium, the authority of the bishops to teach the will of God. If you still accept the claim of the church leadership to speak on behalf of God, you can’t sensibly leave it over its view of homosexuality, because you would consider such a view the expressed will of God. And if you don’t accept the church’s claim to speak with divine authority, you already think the religion is false regardless of what it says about homosexuality.

4 josh October 19, 2017 at 9:10 am

My religion says literally everyone is a sinner (well, except for this one guy).

5 prior_test3 October 19, 2017 at 9:26 am

That was not my point, actually. But she may also reject the idea that two people of having sex is by definition a sin, except when the religion they belong to declares it is not sinful. Sin is a religious concept, after all, and requires faith to accept.

And if Art Deco had actually bothered to do any reading before his suspecting homosexuality being rampant merely because someone is not flamboyantly anti-gay, he might have actually discovered this – ‘Family life: Lives with her partner TV presenter Clarke Gayford. Has a cat.’ This picture makes it fairly clear that he is male – http://johnsonlaird.com/assets/images/1546/1546_profile2_lg.jpg (What Art Deco might think of such a ruggedly handsome man is open to debate, of course.)

6 prior_test3 October 19, 2017 at 9:29 am

And as could be perhaps guessed, I’m Catholic, and as near as I can tell, the adherents of that religion believe two people were sinless. Admittedly, they were mother and son (or should that be Son?).

7 KM32 October 19, 2017 at 9:33 am

I don’t know what is sillier, the idea that everyone is equally a sinner, from Stalin on down to your average kindergartner, or that everyone is a sinner except for two people who magically were not.

8 prior_test3 October 19, 2017 at 9:45 am

Try infants as sinners unable to reach heaven, then watch the Catholic Church do its dance – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbo

9 A Truth Seeker October 19, 2017 at 9:53 am

According to the Prophet, everyone is a sinner, but the Hidden One will regenerate the Earth. Then, “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat”.

10 josh October 19, 2017 at 10:07 am

who said anything about “equally”?

11 albatross October 19, 2017 at 11:30 am

Nobody thinks infants are capable of sin in the sense of having knowingly done wrong; the discussion w.r.t. limbo, infant baptism, etc., is about *original sin*. Basically, are humans born separated from God with the need for some special act (baptism) to connect us? That’s a theological doctrine, and maybe the Church (and pretty much all Christianity) is all wrong about it, but if you’re going to talk about it, it’s worth keeping clear how different this is from the word “sin” as used in every other place.

12 Art Deco October 19, 2017 at 9:51 am

(Truly, it is not that hard to come up with plenty of reasons for her leaving

I’m happy to hear her reasons. I don’t care to hear from you.

13 prior_test3 October 19, 2017 at 10:10 am

In case my disdain was not clear enough, the fact that you even consider that a reasonable question says more about you than anyone else’s apparent lack of curiosity concerning her making a private choice regarding her association with the Mormon Church.

Mainly because most of us don’t care about whether someone is gay or not, and most of us are fully on board turning our backs to any organization or theology that singles out homosexuals for discrimination or punishment.

14 Art Deco October 19, 2017 at 10:53 am

the fact that you even consider that a reasonable question

You’re utter and obtuse parochialism, as well as your inability to gauge when you’ve lost your audience, is not a delict of mine.

15 Moo cow October 19, 2017 at 11:54 am

Maybe she’s a le le le le lesbian!!!!!???

Hahahahaaaaaahaha.

16 dearieme October 19, 2017 at 11:08 am

WKPD: “Ardern was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church), but left the church in 2005 because it conflicted with her personal views, in particular her support for gay rights. She is not religious and in January 2017 said she was an agnostic.” I guess that what she said in 2005 was designed to spare her parents’ feelings (so much kinder than saying ‘because Mormonism is rubbish’) and to advance her career (gay rights, yeah!).

17 Art Deco October 19, 2017 at 11:54 am

If it was designed to do that it was a bad design.

The British bourgeoisie has two feelings: embarrassment and irritation. They cannot make sense of anyone with a more extensive repertoire.

18 carlospln October 19, 2017 at 4:54 pm

She’s a Kiwi, Art.

Try and keep up.

19 Art Deco October 19, 2017 at 10:22 pm

The dearieme person telling us what the ‘design’ was is British. If you wish to be supercilious, you could at least be right.

20 RubbishMan October 19, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Or perhaps Mormonism honed and developed the sense of compassion, justice, human worth, etc. that made her supportive of gay rights and eventually led to her leaving Mormonism. And if Mormonism helped foster those feelings in her, is it really rubbish?

21 Art Deco October 19, 2017 at 10:23 pm

Or perhaps Mormonism honed and developed the sense of compassion, justice, human worth, etc. that made her supportive of gay rights

A more cynical soul might suggest she’s a fickle woman who adopts the opinions of those around her.

22 GoneWithTheWind October 19, 2017 at 11:08 am

I wish her luck and look forward to seeing how she intends to create more “free stuff” and yet still be “fair” to all citizens. The problem is sooner or later you run out of other people’s money. But who knows, maybe this time Socialism will work.

23 BC October 19, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Also, from a democratic legitimacy perspective, there is something unsettling about the leader of a fringe party with only 9 out of 120 seats (7.5%) getting to pick the prime minister. In exchange for gaining control of government, Ardern has promised this 7.5%-support party 4 cabinet roles. The next smallest party, with only 8 out of 120 seats (6.7%), has been promised 4 ministerial roles and an under-secretary position. So, a fringe anti-immigrant party gets cabinet-level offices along with a fringe environmentalist party in exchange for helping a minority Sanders-style socialist shut out the party that actually won the most seats. Great system.

24 P October 19, 2017 at 7:25 pm

Our system is working as intended – how’s yours looking these days?

25 Anon October 19, 2017 at 10:02 pm

+1.
We have a majority of the Tweets, though.

26 Bill October 19, 2017 at 8:11 am

Sounds like Ms. Bernie Sanders.

27 mike October 19, 2017 at 8:15 am

The interesting thing is despite how “progressive an agenda” by US standards she still wanted to reduce immigration by 20-30k… which per capita would bel ike 700k-1 million for the US.

It appears that is a 50% decline in immigration from around 60k per year? That is truly fascinating and telling I think. Are all kiwi’s now racist/ bigots / xenephobes now?

28 david October 19, 2017 at 8:35 am

Hard to draw direct comparisons, for three reasons: the strength of greenism in the NZ left tent also means that Ehrlichian overpopulation fears are more salient (correspondingly other green policies also hold more sway, e.g. on nuclear issues – rather rigid tradeoffs); the relatively greater weight of Maori anti-Asian sentiment (most prominently in the vehicle of Winston Peters) as opposed to coalition-of-minorities organization in the US; and most importantly, the willingness of National to go to bat to defend immigration numbers on grounds of economic growth.

29 Luis Pedro Coelho October 19, 2017 at 9:47 am

What does immigration have to do with overpopulation? Unless her proposal is to murder the potential immigrants, they would still be overpopulating the earth.

New Zealand does not even have particularly high population density: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_territories_by_population_density

30 Hwite October 19, 2017 at 10:26 am

And so that can be the rest of the earth’s problem, not New Zealand’s, which will retain it’s low population density. Many greenfags don’t care about the environment of their own countries any more than they care about the environment on the other end of the earth, but some do. Note I’m being devil’s advocate here, I don’t actually believe in overpopulation.

31 carlospln October 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

You’re a nong.

32 Ricardo October 19, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Residents of the developed world have fewer children than residents of the developing/undeveloped world, so immigration into NZ would *reduce* world population over time…

33 djw October 19, 2017 at 5:07 pm

If you live in New Zealand you probably care about New Zealand. Whether or not immigration into New Zealand is a net benefit to the REST of the world is beside the point.

34 Adrian Ratnapala October 19, 2017 at 5:59 pm

The argument from the oldtimes was the reisdents of western countries consumed far more natural resources than people in poor countries.

Happily, this is less true now.

35 David K October 19, 2017 at 8:38 am

Per capita the current level of 60k per year would be about 4 million per year in the US, I think (60e3 / 4.6e6 * 320e6). So cutting in half would leave total immigration at the equivalent of 2 million per year in US terms– that’s double the US annual legal immigration rate, and more than US annual legal + illegal immigration.

I think if you advocated the policy of legalizing all those currently here AND doubling the legal immigration rate to match New Zealand’s new rate, you’d be on the very left wing of the Democratic position.

36 JWatts October 19, 2017 at 10:19 am

She’s not advocating doubling it, she’s advocating halving it. Regardless of the relative values, decreasing is radically different than increasing.

37 MKS October 19, 2017 at 2:19 pm

The point is that she is advocating halving the rate to one that is roughly double the current US immigration rate.

I.E. she is advocating for a rate that is DOUBLE the current US total immigration rate (a position that would be politically progressive in the US)

60K immigrants per year is actually pretty insane (approx. 1% of their population per year)

38 JWatts October 19, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Why is the relative value the point versus the direction of change?

39 Butler T. Reynolds October 19, 2017 at 8:42 am

I don’t think Bernie is a big fan of immigration either: immigrants put a strain on the progressives’ welfare state and are assumed to push down labor prices. But, Bernie is old-school prog. The current love affair that many progressives have with immigrants has two causes:

1) Red staters are often anti-immigrant, so the blue team must now be f**king pro-immigrant, right?

2) Most of the immigrants urban progressives come in contact with day to day at work and in the neighborhood are like them: educated f**king professionals. (Visiting an ethnic restaurant or grocery store on the f**king weekend doesn’t count.)

BTW, what is it with progressives and their infatuation with f-bombs these days? (I have a theory, but that’s another topic.)

40 KM32 October 19, 2017 at 9:37 am

The F-word is not a swear word for the majority of the younger generation. Modern profanity is all about racial and homophobic slurs.

41 Art Deco October 19, 2017 at 9:49 am

The F-word is not a swear word for the majority of the younger generation.

Scanning the younger generation in the family, I locate one prodigious F-bomber, precisely the number I locate in my generation. What’s changed since about 1975 is the you see profanity in print and broadcast.

42 Floccina October 19, 2017 at 3:50 pm

“But, Bernie is old-school prog.”

More like an old school socialist.

43 Adrian Ratnapala October 19, 2017 at 6:04 pm

Also the salience of illegal immigration matters.

In the US, you have a large number of Mexicans who can cross the border secretly and its hard to get rid of them. Government actions concerning those who do get caught form a classic law-and-order vs. compassion axis which the left and right will eagerly line themselves up on. Here, in Australia, “boat people” who can be got rid of fairly easily if a government consistently acts like a hard-nut, setting up just the same thing.

But it’s all different for the Kiwis, because reason anyone wants to migrate to NZ is so that they can enter Australa. Which is already more accessible for illegals anyway.

44 Jeff R October 19, 2017 at 9:49 am

Why isn’t Tyler his usual indignant, exhorting self on the subject, either?

45 James October 19, 2017 at 7:17 pm

Infrastructure in New Zealand has not kept up with the growing population. A housing shortage in the main centres is now starting to hurt. Construction in Auckland is at capacity, yet the shortfall of housing is expected to increase if nothing changes
Historically New Zealand’s immigration quotas were mitigated by a large number of emigrants. In the pat several years however, less New Zealanders are leaving, New Zealanders living overseas are returning at greater rates and the new immigrant quotas have not been adjusted to reflect that.
Cutting immigration while NZ catch up on infrastructure seems like a pragmatic start. Neither Ardern nor her party are xenophobic, I can’t promise you the same about her new partner Winston though…

46 Chad Oliver October 19, 2017 at 7:37 pm

If you think the immigration issue is about race, you’re viewing it through an American lens. Yes, there’s definitely plenty of racist people in New Zealand, but that’s been the case for a long time. That isn’t what’s driving this policy shift.

The reason why people are agitating to decrease the immigration quotas is because there are so many Kiwis returning to New Zealand from overseas. The New Zealand economy is doing pretty well, and other hot-spots for expat Kiwis (like Australia) aren’t doing so well. We’ve got a lot of people coming into New Zealand — people who need houses and who compete for jobs. We can’t restrict the number of citizens that return to New Zealand, because they have a right to be here. What we can do is reduce the number of immigration quotas we give out.

Personally, I think it’s stupid to reduce immigration. However, I know plenty of people who support it, and they support it for economic reasons not racial or cultural reasons. Mostly, they just want to be able to afford to buy a house.

47 TMC October 19, 2017 at 8:23 am

” she was compared to rock-star politicians such as Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau.”

Hopefully with better results.

48 The Other Jim October 19, 2017 at 8:38 am

Note they said “rock-star politicians,” not “capable leaders.”

As for Jacinda, I’m not sure why she did not promise everyone a pony, too. Everybody loves getting a pony. It was very thrilling when Barack Obama said I was getting a pony, or that if I had a pony, I could keep my pony. To this day I wake up excited that this could be the day I get my pony!

Politics sure is changing for the good!

49 TMC October 19, 2017 at 8:41 am

Maybe that’s why everyone got an O phone, so we could have pony videos, but then the darn cats tooks over.

50 Brian Donohue October 19, 2017 at 9:55 am

When I hear “rock star politician” I think of a guy bopping around the country doing rallies at packed football stadiums. This is a good thing?

51 A Truth Seeker October 19, 2017 at 10:00 am

Will he sing?

52 Al October 19, 2017 at 10:51 am

Ha! Excellent!

53 Chip October 19, 2017 at 4:23 pm

It’s hard to reconcile 1) voters who become enamoured with “rock star” personalities and 2) the claim that “politics is changing for the better.”

Any election that focuses on the personality of the candidates does so at the expense of focus on policy.

It’s a triumph of emotion over reason.

54 msgkings October 19, 2017 at 5:01 pm

‘Twas ever thus though.

55 Adrian Ratnapala October 19, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Remember our host is a troll.

56 Brandon Berg October 20, 2017 at 4:47 am

He didn’t say “for the better.” He said “for good,” which I took to mean permanently.

57 Ted October 19, 2017 at 8:26 am

Is the trend toward celebrity politicians, whether they be Trump or Trudeau, healthy?

58 A Truth Seeker October 19, 2017 at 8:30 am

Why not? America had its share of colorful political figures, the Ted Roosevelts, the Washingtons, the Wallaces, the Hueys, the Jacksons, the Ikes, the Reagans.

59 Chip October 19, 2017 at 4:32 pm

They had accomplishments.

Obama and Trudeau are pure, undistilled celebrity. On one hand, it might be a positive reflection of the incredible wealth, freedom and security we enjoy that we are comfortable electing such feckless people.

On the other, we won’t be enjoying it for long if we continue to elect them.

60 The Other Jim October 19, 2017 at 8:39 am

>Is the trend toward celebrity politicians, whether they be Trump or Trudeau, healthy?

Great question, and it will be answered even more clearly when you see what comes after Obama and Trump.

Spoiler: The answer is no.

61 A Truth Seeker October 19, 2017 at 9:06 am

“Great question, and it will be answered even more clearly when you see what comes after Obama and Trump.”

Will it be Mrs. Kim Kardashian?

62 josh October 19, 2017 at 9:13 am

The job of the President has changed. It hard to pretend that he is genuinely the chief executive of the several million person corporation called the executive branch. The President is much closer to being the chief spokesmodel for some set of interests. Celebrity status is a reasonable qualification.

63 anon October 19, 2017 at 9:33 am

All we have to do to change that is elect an effective legislator.

And at this point, why wouldn’t we?

64 Brian Donohue October 19, 2017 at 9:57 am

Is “effective legislator” a good resume for President? Not an LBJ fan myself.

65 anon October 19, 2017 at 10:12 am
66 Hwite October 19, 2017 at 10:34 am

He can veto any law Congress passes unless it has a 2/3rds majority to override the veto, he appoints justices the Supreme Court, and even Leftists concede that Trump has the right to bomb Syria without anyone else’s approval. Also see “executive orders.”

67 josh October 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm

The queen can dissolve parliament. Are executive orders ever really the president’s idea or written in his hand? I think the closest a president has come to actually choosing a supreme court justice in the past two decades was when W. Bush tried to nominate a lawyer friend of his and everybody laughed at him

68 albatross October 19, 2017 at 11:38 am

Branch #1: Ever more flashy and contentless celebrities: (example: Kim Kardashian)

Branch #2: Generic politicians like we’ve always had: (example: Martin O’Malley)

Branch #3: Uncharismatic grey men/women as a curative: (example: John Kascich)

Branch #4: Non-celebrity demogogues promising voters the stars: (example: Bernie Sanders)

69 Anonymous Bosch October 19, 2017 at 8:38 am

“A Labour government has pledged to wipe out child poverty, make tertiary education free, reduce immigration by 20,000-30,000, decriminalise abortion, introduce a water tax and make all rivers swimmable within 10 years.”

They forgot to guarantee world peace.

70 KM32 October 19, 2017 at 9:35 am

Wiping out child poverty is impossible. Tertiary education could theoretically be government funded (free???), but that’s unlikely. The others are all quite possible.

71 Art Deco October 19, 2017 at 9:45 am

They forgot to guarantee world peace.

She likely thought that would make her sound like a pageant contestant being interviewed by Bob Barker.

72 prior_test3 October 19, 2017 at 8:47 am

‘Sometimes proportional representation systems throw up surprising results’

There is absolutely nothing surprising about such a result in a proportional representation system. Unless one is not really familiar with such a system, of course.

73 anon October 19, 2017 at 8:54 am

“further evidence that politics is changing for good, and not just because of narrow economic reasons”

That might be overfitting the data.

74 anon October 19, 2017 at 10:08 am

I doubt “changed for good,” but I think this has to be the focus of the moment:

The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online

We are split evenly between optimists and pessimists.

“Some 1,116 responded to this nonscientific canvassing: 51% chose the option that the information environment will not improve, and 49% said the information environment will improve.”

75 Todd K October 19, 2017 at 9:34 am

TC: “Here is the full story, further evidence that politics is changing for good, and not just because of narrow economic reasons. Last year the New Zealand economy grew 3.9%.”

Then again, New Zealand’s GDP per capita is $37,000, about the same as Spain, Italy and South Korea whereas Ausralia is at almost $50,000.

76 JWatts October 19, 2017 at 10:14 am

Is abortion criminalized in NZ?

77 Chad Oliver October 19, 2017 at 7:23 pm

Yes, it’s illegal, but there are a few situations in which it’s legal. The biggest loophole is that you can get an abortion if you can find two doctors who agree that pregnancy poses a risk to your mental health. This effectively means that anyone who wants an abortion can get one.

Honestly, I think New Zealand’s abortion law strikes a good political balance, and I don’t think there’s any particular need to change it. Yes, it would be nice to make abortion officially legal, but that wouldn’t have much effect on the practical availability of abortions. Better to expend political capital on other issues.

78 Al October 19, 2017 at 10:54 am

““For too many New Zealanders capitalism has not been their friend but their foe, ”

Rutro. Short ENZL? Oh wait, it is already down.

79 Adam October 19, 2017 at 11:06 am

Not a surprising result if you are used to proportional representation. You often have two semi-stable coalitions that change only slowly over time. Say one side is a single party A and other consists of several large parties. Then party A will often be the largest but only be in government if over 50%.

80 The Other Jim October 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

>Jacinda by the way “Was brought up as a Mormon but left the church over its anti-homosexual stance.”

Well, good for her.

And I’m sure she has much to say about religions that outright murder them. I do believe there is big one that’s been in the news a lot recently — odds are she’s heard of it. Could you point me to one of her many speeches on the topic? Thanks!

81 djw October 19, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Well, she is in a coalition with an anti-immigrant party. Actions speak louder than words.

82 Floccina October 19, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Make all rivers swimmable within 10 years?

83 CMc October 19, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it. There are some very fast moving and voluminous rivers in NZ.

84 Khalil October 19, 2017 at 7:02 pm

The biggest problem for Ardern is that she has actually put together a three-way coalition between Labour, the Greens and NZFirst.
NZFirst is the social conservative outlier. The other two are progressive. All three have economic leanings in the same direction, e.g. economic nationalism, protectionism, higher spending.
There will be a limit to the legislation they can agree on and pass. However, I don’t doubt that government spending will skyrocket over the next three years; all three made that a key plank of their election strategies. Winston Peters (NZFirst) adores attention. It was quite plain that he relished the press attention he received while he was the ‘king/queen maker’dragging out his negotiations with the two major parties.
The other quirk of New Zealand is that it is a single-chamber parliament. There is no house of review.

85 Cooper October 20, 2017 at 2:07 pm

^^This

The real reason that she is forced to reduce immigration quotas is that she has to accommodate the views of the NZF party.

It’s not the Greens pushing for immigration restriction, it’s the populists. https://www.greens.org.nz/page/immigration-policy

86 Millian October 20, 2017 at 4:27 pm

National devoured all the small parties who could have supported them, except NZ First. In a proportional representation system, that’s an easy way to grow your party, but a damned risky way to try to get into government because people who get tired of you personally have nowhere else to go but the opposition.

87 Lanigram October 20, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Who cares about New Zealand?

88 Lanigram October 20, 2017 at 10:04 pm

“The Piano” was good.

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