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NZ's political leanings - Left, Right or Both?

New Zealand’s political leanings: left, right or both?

Competition, private ownership good – protectionism, government hand-ups are too

When New Zealanders place themselves on the political spectrum the majority opt for centre-left according to the New Zealand Values Study but when it comes to specific ideology we are much more confused.

The Values Study is co-authored by Dr Paul Perry, a Senior Lecturer in Massey University’s School of Sociology and Women’s Studies, and emeritus Professor of Education Alan Webster. Dr Perry says when people indicated their political preferences by party, given a first and second choice, overwhelmingly the centre-left won out. But this did not always translate into people’s views about issues.

The New Zealand Study of Values surveyed over 1200 adult New Zealanders in 1998 asking a range of questions about family, community, work, politics, the government, religion and national identity. The first report from the Survey titled New Zealand Politics at the Turn of the Millennium has just been released.

Dr Perry says when people were asked about both first and second party choice in an election, National voters were found to be considerably less ideologically consistent about their second party choice. While 26% chose Act, 25% chose Labour. In comparison 49% of people choosing Labour as their first choice, selected the Alliance as their second choice, while only 14% selected National.

“The point of this calculation is more than academic,” he says. “It shows the popular base upon which the parties can rely. There seems to be little doubt that the centre-left is in a stronger position. It also seems to place the Alliance in a strong bargaining position – a fact which shapes up as a worst case scenario for the right.”

However, New Zealand is somewhat more contradictory on a conservative-progressive ideological divide. Over 70% see competition as good rather than harmful, and far more favour private ownership of business being increased (50%) rather than government ownership being increased (14%).

But 53% favour tighter regulation of big companies (14% against), 61 % favour stricter limits on selling foreign goods in New Zealand to protect jobs, and substantial majorities think it is the responsibility of government to help provide a job for all that want one (71%) and to reduce income differences between rich and poor (60%).

“Overall, this is a picture of a population that tends to value the freedom of the individual, but also values the role of government in keeping society on a fair and even keel,” says Dr Perry.

Some items also show us Kiwis evenly split. There are near equal divisions when asked about whether incomes should be made more equal or whether there is a need for larger income differences as incentives. There is also an even split when asked whether people are poor because of individual or societal causes, or when asked if the future is bright or bleak.
ENDS.
Some findings:

How much is the Government doing for people living in need?
Too much – 7%::::::::::::About right – 28%::::::::::::Too Little – 59%

Is competition good or harmful?
Good – 71%::::::::::::::::::neutral – 18%::::::::::::::::::Harmful – 10%

Should incomes be made more equal or need larger differences?
More equal – 33%::::::neutral – 29%::::::::::::::::::Bigger differences – 36%

Why are people in this country poor?
Lazy::::::37%::::::::::::society treats unfairly – 36%::::::Don’t know – 27%

On MMP
The political system before MMP
Bad – 29%::::::::::::OK – 28%::::::::::::::::::Good – 37%
NZ’s political system today
Bad – 71%::::::::::::OK – 19%::::::::::::::::::Good – 7%
Expectations for 10 years time
Bad – 26%::::::::::::OK – 23%::::::::::::::::::Good – 23% :::::: Don’t Know – 28%

Contact:::::::Dr Paul Perry
::::::::::::Senior Lecturer School of Sociology and Women’s Studies
::::::::::::Ph:::::::(06) 350-5799 ext. 2622 (work)
::::::::::::Email:::::::P.E.Perry@massey.ac.nz


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