Tactical voting to fore with cuppa saga

The cup-of-tea saga in Epsom involving Prime Minister John Key and Act New Zealand candidate John Banks has brought the issue of tactical voting to the fore for many voters.

Whether or not Messrs Key and Banks discussed a post-election deal has been overshadowed by the recording of the conversation and the subsequent laying of charges with the police by the Prime Minister.

At the last election, National gave a "nod and a wink" to its Epsom supporters to vote for former Act leader Rodney Hide in the electorate vote but to tick National in the party vote.

Mr Hide won the seat with 21,102 votes as opposed to National's Richard Worth on 8220.

That allowed Act to enter Parliament with five MPs. None of those MPs will enter Parliament this time unless John Boscawen wins Tamaki, something he does not want to do, having announced his retirement from politics.

Labour Epsom candidate David Parker says if people like him and Labour they should give him their electorate and party votes. The same went for Mr Banks and National candidate Paul Goldsmith. Likewise, the Greens are urging voters to not split their votes.

Tactical voting can still have a major effect on the outcome of Saturday's election despite opinion polls putting National so far out in front it may be able to govern on its own.

National is likely to end up on Saturday without a possible coalition partner - except perhaps the Maori Party - unless Mr Banks can stem the flood of votes away from his party. A poll out on Friday showed Mr Banks trailing Mr Goldsmith by a large percentage.

Epsom voters appear unhappy with being told to vote for Mr Banks, who has lost two mayoral elections in Auckland, both to left-leaning candidates.

Act officials should be contemplating their major mistake of replacing Mr Hide with Don Brash, who seems destined to lead his second political party to defeat in an election.

In 2005, Dr Brash was the leader of National at the election but was replaced soon after by Prime Minister John Key.

Labour has made a near-fatal mistake by not having "party vote Labour" on many of its posters.

Having just the candidate's name and "vote [for whomever]" does not tell Labour voters they need to tick the Labour candidate and the party vote boxes to help return as many of the party's MPs to Parliament as possible.

National has a buffer if some of its supporters decide to tick Act on the party vote because it holds the most electorate seats.

But as former Labour leader Helen Clark used to admonish Labour supporters - vote for Labour in both the electorate and party votes and leave it up to her to find coalition partners.

In the past, it would not have hurt greatly if voters in Labour-held electorates voted for the candidate and gave their party vote to the Greens to help build a possible post-election coalition.

To do that this time would spell disaster for Labour. Labour supporters must double tick, even if the party officials are not telling them to do so.

National has a long-term problem ahead of it. It can probably rely on the Maori Party for support in the next term, and also United Future leader Peter Dunne if he retains his Ohariu seat. Many party supporters still believe absolute control is best and are unlikely to split their vote. That could consign the party to being in Opposition for a long time from 2014.

Green supporters should vote for whomever they like as an electorate candidate but tick party vote Green as none of their candidates will be elected any other way than the party crossing the 5% MMP threshold.

Ditto New Zealand First supporters.

Mana Party supporters: Te Tai Tokerau voters, two ticks. Vote for leader Hone Harawira and party vote Mana. If Mr Harawira does not win there will be no Mana party MPs in Parliament. In other electorates, supporters must tick the party vote. If enough voters tick party vote Mana, two, possibly three, Mana MPs will be in Parliament.

United Future supporters: In Ohariu, voters need to tick Peter Dunne to keep the party in Parliament. On current polling, he will not take anyone else into Parliament.

Maori Party supporters: The strength of the party is holding electorates and the four seats it now holds create an overhang in Parliament - the party has more seats than it is entitled to. On current polling, Te Tai Tonga is likely to return to Labour. At the last election, Maori Party supporters ticked Labour in the party vote. That is likely to happen again.

 

 

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