Guest Author: Madison.
If you’re truly focused on the thing you want, then you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.
For the past three years New Zealanders have been suffocating under the actions of a totalitarian government. One way to achieve change was to unite together for a voice in Parliament.
After the Parliament protests, there was much talk of unifying the minor political parties, but this was achieved with only limited success. One attempt, aimed at bringing together people behind a single minor party, was Voters United. Regular polls were held as Voters United progressed. These polls were only for the minor parties – those that generally attracted too few votes to make it into Parliament. The aim of Voters United was to consolidate those votes towards a single party to give it a greater chance of Parliamentary representation.
In the 2020 election, the minor party vote (or “wasted vote” as it’s referred to – those that were cast in favour of a party that did not make it into Parliament) was over 220,000.
During the closing weeks of the election campaign in late September / early October, New Zealand Loyal was the leading party on the Voters United website, with New Zealand First coming a close second. The other minor parties – FreedomsNZ, NewZeal, DemocracyNZ, and others – had all fallen by the wayside as their support waned in favour of the stronger two minor parties.
But there was a problem. Voters United was only a microcosm of minor party supporters, which in turn were a microcosm of the wider voting public.
The national polls had New Zealand First polling at 6% while NZ Loyal was on 1%, and only capable of winning a maximum of two seats in Parliament (due to NZ Loyal registering a party list to the Electoral Commission consisting of only three people, one of whom apparently quit the Party soon after the lodgement, leaving only two possible party seats if no electorate was won). A vote for NZ Loyal was always going to be a wasted vote, and as it happened, over 26,000 wasted votes.
It was a no brainer but emotions and egos had been engaged. Was it ego that drove New Nation Party to continue to campaign against all logic and reason that it would get nowhere – achieving only 1,288 votes nationwide? Or the religious enthusiasm of NewZeal, which emerged out of the religiosity of OneParty? Did they really believe that people were going to vote for them enough to win a seat or was it merely a way to push their religious beliefs onto others, perhaps as a church membership drive?
People lost sight of what we were trying to achieve – a compromise of sorts to ensure the freedom candidates got into Parliament to begin much needed change to our system. They forgot about the big picture. Emotionally exhausted after three years of maltreatment by an over-reaching government and desperate for change, many fell in line with the empathetic messaging from NZ Loyal, ignoring reason and the national polls, which were very accurate.
Emotions flared and the freedom community was divided. (Although, it must be stated, the freedom community was already divided and fractured after Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki pronounced in August 2022 he would lead an “umbrella” party of minor parties. That act alone was enough to drive many people in different electoral directions.)
The thing about the freedom community is that it is full of lone wolves, that is what is distinctive about it – diversity and individualism. Unfortunately this was also its undoing. When it was critical that the community unite, this community was incapable of doing so.
The messaging was simply put and repeated ad nauseam during the election campaign: “Don’t waste your vote. Be strategic. Voting for a party that doesn’t get over 5% of the party vote will be distributed to the major parties you didn‘t want to support.” But you did it anyway.
Was it the egos of the minor party leaders that kept them from honourably stepping down in favour of the greater good? What did they hope to achieve? Like the Pied Piper, they led their voters to their collective death. Was it really worth the 8 votes or the 200 votes they received in some electorates?
Thankfully we can be grateful for the heroes who never lost sight of the big picture and voted strategically. Those who took into account both the polling results on Voters United and the wider national polls. New Zealand First gained 6.46% of the vote and 8 seats in Parliament. A small victory. It could have (and should have) been so much more, but it’s a lesson we must learn, for next time.
Had the freedom supporting, participating minor parties of Voters United and their members put all their support behind New Zealand First – taking into account the national polls, not just Voters United – then that result would have been better. With an additional 2.39% – the percentage of the wasted vote – New Zealand First would have achieve 8.85% of the party vote and therefore only 0.13% behind ACT, which has 11 seats in Parliament.
They would have been a larger voice for the freedom community.
Waking up on Sunday 15 October to the reality was sobering. Learn from the mistake and forgive each other. And to the parties, you have three years, figure it out.
United we are strong. Divided we fail.