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Overseas voters change two seats in Parliament

17 December 2008

Media release
Ivan Moss, Chief Executive, Kea New Zealand

For immediate publication

Overseas voters change two seats in Parliament

Overseas voters in New Zealand’s 2008 General Election changed the outcome of two seats in Parliament, analysis by the overseas network Kea New Zealand shows.

Votes by Kiwis based overseas were decisive in giving the Greens their ninth seat in Parliament, and took a seat away from Labour.

Kea’s analysis shows that without the record-breaking 32,000 overseas votes:
 the Greens would have eight seats in the new Parliament instead of nine
 Labour would have 44 seats instead of 43.

Final result excluding overseas votes Final result including overseas votes
National 58 58
Labour 44 43
Greens 8 9
All others 12 12
Overseas voters changed Parliament’s makeup because they differed markedly in how they supported the three largest parties in the new Parliament.

Overseas voters favoured the Greens by 2:1 compared with all other voters (effective percentage of 14.2% Green among overseas voters, compared with 7.1% Green among all other voters). That was enough to give the Greens an extra 0.10% of the total vote, and push the party over the threshold for an extra seat.

Further, overseas voters favoured National by almost 2:1 over Labour (52.3% versus 27.8%) – much more strongly than the electorate overall. This low support from overseas reduced Labour’s vote by 0.12% of the total vote, effectively costing Labour a seat.

Kea New Zealand’s independent, non-partisan `Every Vote Counts’ campaign reached out to Kiwis overseas and encouraged them to vote in the 2008 General Election.

Enrolments by Kiwis overseas rose sharply in 2008, growing by 16,000 to nearly 60,000 eligible voters (a 37% increase over 2005).

Every Vote Counts directly reached well over 20,000 people and was responsible for initiating at least 7,000 voting enrolments .

``We are pleased with the impact of our campaign, given that it was mounted on a small budget by a non-profit organisation,’’ says Ivan Moss.

``But we remain concerned that overseas Kiwis have the lowest enrolment rate of any group of eligible New Zealand voters. The 60,000 who enrolled to vote this year is only about 12% of the estimated 500,000 New Zealanders overseas who are eligible.

``We will work with electoral officials and Parliamentarians between now and the next election to better understand, and to try to address, barriers to overseas voting.

``It is important to the strength of our democracy that our important decisions be made by the largest segment of the eligible electorate as possible.’’

Background information

New Zealand citizens are eligible to vote from anywhere in the world if they have visited New Zealand at any time in the three years before election day.

Every Vote Counts was a 2008 initiative of Kea New Zealand (www.keanewzealand.com), an independent, non-government, non-profit Incorporated Society dedicated to encouraging overseas New Zealanders to maintain and deepen their connections with home.

The Every Vote Counts campaign was strictly non-partisan, and did not advocate that overseas New Zealanders vote for any particular political party or candidate, nor hold or act on any particular political opinion. No public funds were used to support Every Vote Counts.

The 32,000 overseas votes in 2008 compares with 28,000 in 2005 and about 17,000 in 2002. This year’s tally is the highest overseas peacetime vote in New Zealand’s history.

Total without overseas votes Overseas votes Official results Net effect of overseas votes
Party Votes Effective % Seats Votes Effective % Votes Effective % Seats
Greens 153,126 7.09% 8 4,487 14.19% 157,613 7.19% 9 +1
Labour 788,098 36.49% 44 8,782 27.78% 796,880 36.37% 43 -1
National 1,036,850 48.01% 58 16,548 52.34% 1,053,398 48.08% 58 0
All others 334,031 8.41% 12 2,644 5.69% 336,675 8.36% 12 0
100.00% 122 32,461
100.00% 2,344,566
100.00% 122 0
1. Voting data compiled from http://2008.electionresults.govt.nz/e9/html/e9_part8.html.
2. "Effective %" adjusts voting percentage by excluding votes for parties who did not achieve seats in Parliament, as per MMP’s Sainte-Laguë allocation formula.
3. All “seats” results compiled with the official MMP calculator: http://www.elections.org.nz/calculator/.


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