AUT's Julienne Molineaux has written a must-read guide to post-election processes ... anyone wanting to know anything about this should go and read it.

I was going to write something today setting out how the post-election government formation process works. Then I read this post by Julienne Molineaux over at AUT's Briefing Papers blog. Because it says everything I would, and does so in such a good way, I simply will urge anyone interested to go and read it in full.

Here's the first part as a teaser ... 

Understanding that you have two votes, and what each is for, is fairly straightforward. But once the votes are in, what happens?

New Zealand is making MMP up as we go along. We have what is called a ‘freestyle bargaining’ approach to government formation. There are no rules about how to approach it, who must be involved, or what timeframes must be adhered to. The first bloc of parties to tell the Governor General that they have 61 votes for ‘confidence and supply’ has the right to form a government. Confidence and supply refers to two minimum things a government must do to stay in power: ‘supply’ is the ability to pass its budget, so government spending can continue, and ‘confidence’ means surviving a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the House.

Some of our MMP governments have been innovative, involving for example support partners with Ministerial posts but not bound by collective Cabinet responsibility, who are free to publicly disagree with government policies. National and the Greens signed a memorandum of understanding in 2009, in which both parties agreed to work on policies including home insulation and energy efficiency. John Key put together a series of ‘surplus majority government’ arrangements with more support parties and votes than necessary to survive, giving his government the option of tailoring different combinations of supporters for each legislative reform.

New forms of creativity may be used to facilitate the formation of a workable government following election 2017.

....

(Now go read the rest here)


Comments (3)

by Rich on September 27, 2017
Rich

I had a few questions:

- Bill English is still the Prime Minister, right? And remains so unless Labour can go to the G-G with 61 seats?

- Is parliament due to reconvene on a fixed date? When it does, what if there is do formal deal? Does the government continue until there is a vote of no confidence? And then is there an automatic election or more time to reach a deal?

- What if Labour got an agreement with NZF, but no formal agreement with the Greens, just an understanding that they'd probably not vote them down in the first instance? Would that be enough to go to the G-G with?

- Should we move to the Scottish system, where the First Minister (and hence government) is elected by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Minister_of_Scotland">exhaustive ballot</a> within 28 days?

 

by Kat on September 27, 2017
Kat

Interesting to see what can be tried that hasn't been tried with MMP before. What other ways of forming a working government are there. If Winston does not get into bed with National or Labour/Greens then what? Who could be or who would want to be the govt if confidence and supply could be whisked away at any time, thats not stable govt.

Wouldn't the Governer General be obliged to make a call on the numbers. Winston woud not want to force another election. The specials are certainly the big factor now so we may as well all go on holiday for a few weeks. 

 

by Andrew Geddis on September 27, 2017
Andrew Geddis

@Rich

- Bill English is still the Prime Minister, right? And remains so unless Labour can go to the G-G with 61 seats?

Yes.

- Is parliament due to reconvene on a fixed date? When it does, what if there is do formal deal? Does the government continue until there is a vote of no confidence? And then is there an automatic election or more time to reach a deal?

Parliament must meet within 6 weeks of the return of the election writ - on or before 23 November. However, there doesn't have to be a Government in place by then (and indeed there wasn't in 1996) - Parliament can just meet and resolve not to sit for a period. If the House were to seek a vote of no confidence in the caretaker Government without there being an alternative Government in waiting, this would force a new election (i.e. be tantamount to bringing the whole government negotiation process to a shuddering halt).

- What if Labour got an agreement with NZF, but no formal agreement with the Greens, just an understanding that they'd probably not vote them down in the first instance? Would that be enough to go to the G-G with?

Hard to know ... "probably" is a weasel word that no party should use in these circumstances. But if a conditional agreement to support at the outset was clearly expressed by all three parties publicly, then the G-G would be required to appoint Jacinda Ardern as PM and whomever she advises as Ministers. The acid test would then be the traditional vote of no confidence that follows the new Government's statement of its legislative priorities (given when Parliament gets down to business).

- Should we move to the Scottish system, where the First Minister (and hence government) is elected by an exhaustive ballot within 28 days?

Why? Peters has said he'll make a decision by October 12 ... the return of the writ. I'm not seeing any real problem that might need fixing here.

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