Cognito: When six becomes three – the squeeze on smaller parties

14 September 2017

Familia ante omnia *

Protest votes against the two major parties have been the mainstay of minor party support in New Zealand and under MMP it’s allowed some of them to play a significant role.

But, when the chips are down and there’s an outright war between the major parties, the smaller ones can become collateral damage as protest voters head home to the traditional parties and surrender their personal protest for the greater cause.

The ACT party is the exception. Rather than a protest vote, it’s an arranged marriage between David Seymour and National party faithful in Epsom – one of convenience that will last only as long as the singleton vote is meaningful in providing a majority.

Cognito wonders how strong the greater cause sentiment would need to be for ACT to be the only minor party returned to Parliament on 23 September.

The major parties are neck-and-neck in the polls making a protest vote risky – something that could already have sealed the fate of the Greens.

At the same time, Labour and National have cherry-picked minor party policies with proven voter appeal, and in the process they’ve stripped the small parties of their relevance.

Like The Warehouse of politics, could the big guns force the small high street shops to close?

This would leave just two tribes. Left and right, red and blue. And the minor parties relegated to think tank status while the majors enjoy their respective portions of the wasted vote, lessening the vote percentage they need to govern alone.

This would certainly impact the diversity of the Parliament and trigger a rethink of the current thresholds for representation under our MMP system. 

* Family over all

Subscribe to Cognito