Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Two ticks.....one for the candidate, one for the kaupapa

I am just about to get on the road to head back to Hamilton to visit my mum, but I thought I would quickly blog about strategic voting, after the stunning results that came from Te Karere's Digipoll results yesterday for the Waiariki electorate.

Needless to say, Te Ururoa is a long way in advance in the candidate vote (56%), ahead of the other competitors from Mana and Labour coming in at 22% support for each. What really amazed me was the Party vote poll which showed that 40% would give their Party vote to the Maori Party.

That is fantastic news!

Obviously the poll does not give us an insight into why people are looking at giving their two ticks to the Maori Party - but let me posit some hypotheses:

1) The Maori Party list has a number of Waiariki representatives on it from across the rohe - perhaps this list strategy is working?
2) The volatility in the split between Mana and Maori Parties may have resulted in supporters entrenching their support even further behind their preferred party?
3) Te Ururoa has done the hard yards in the electorate, advocating for the people of the region - he is kanohi kitea, and that has perhaps given confidence to the people in the Waiariki electorate that the Maori Party will be the vehicle to take them forward.

It is fun guessing, but at this stage, that is all it is - until we see the results on election night.

The most important thing I think we can draw from the results is that even in a time of uncertainty around the Maori vote - the Maori Party's support in this region is not only steady, but is lifting - or one could say, becoming further entrenched.

Te Ururoa also put out a press release  yesterday praising Waiariki for the poll results and the increase in support for the Maori Party. So, I just wanted to touch a bit on this - I have written previously about our Maori Party voters tending to split their vote 'one for their candidate of choice, the other for their preferred 'government'.

The Maori Party is now pursuing a two tick campaign - one for the candidate, and one for the kaupapa. The reason why we are pursuing this strategy is simple - the more MP's you have, the more bargaining power you have post election, and - if it comes to it - influence in the decision making of government.

If we continue to split our votes, or indeed pursue candidate only - then we will always (as Maori) be limited to seven MP's, this is not a big voice in a parliament of 120. If we are serious about exercising influence and leverage over government decision making - we need to work toward reducing the party vote share of the major parties, and increase the party vote share of minor parties. Of course, as a Maori Party list candidate, my minor party of choice is the Maori Party. (Why? Because we need a government that is serious about addressing Maori issues, and until we have strong and solid representation - the big parties will continue on their usual tokenistic pathway).

I think I understand why voters tend to give their party vote to the major parties - trust. Can we trust the minor party to make the decision that is best for us? The answer is, that it depends on the Party. In the case of the Maori Party, we went out and consulted with the people before we made a deal with any party in 2008, and we will do it again after this election.

Some parties have already declared where they lie before the election - which is a different strategy again. The point is, that until the election results are in, there are so many variables that could affect the make up of parliament, and potential relationship talks -  our view it is that we want to know the whole context and lay of the land before making a decision. For example - last election, National and Act could lead on their own - the question to our communities was whether we should get in there or not. There was no possibility of Labour governing, and so the decision was quite simple. It could all change at this election depending on how the votes fall, we could hold the balance of power? or we could be faced with a situation similar to 2008.

The Maori Party believe it is an absolute must that we go back to the people before making a decision. We did it last time, but I also think we have learnt and grown as a party over the last three years. I think one of  the big lesson the Maori Party has learnt this term is that 'we must take the people with us on the journey'. It's about getting gains 'with' Maori, rather than getting gains 'for' Maori.

So on that note I will wrap it up, with a final comment from me - my view is that the strategic thing to do would be to give our votes to the minor parties, rather than the major parties. I don't like telling people how to vote, but would like to say that I hope your party of choice would be the Maori Party (as you could have me :-)), but also because we need our government to get serious about Maori issues.

I know that we have been attacked for all sorts of issues this last election, but the truth of it is - we have had over 100 years Labour and National (in their various forms) making bad call after bad call for Maori. Three years is not going to fix up  what has been a long time issue - we need faith, we need courage, and we need strong Maori representation in parliament, and we need to invest into a long term strategy for Maori representation in parliament.

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