Is there a mandate?

Andrea Vance and John Hartevelt debate whether or not National has a mandate for . This is a topic that some on the left has been pushing also – that 48% is not a mandate, in fact some say that even if National had got 51%, that is not a mandate as polls shows most voters against.

As a pollster I quite like the idea that polls are more powerful than elections, and polls determine a mandate. Presumably this goes both ways, and those on the left who claim polls determine a mandate would be happy for National to (for example) ban unions, so long as a poll showed it was popular.

I think this shows how flawed the idea is that polls give you a mandate, not elections.

The reality is that National announced its plans for selling minority stakes in five companies way back in January.  I doubt a single voter could have been unaware of the plans. Labour declared it the defining issue of the election campaign, and their entire campaign was based on opposition to the policy – ranging from their slogan to their leader declaring time after time that the election was New Zealander’s final chance to save their assets. People absolutely knew what they were getting if they voted for a National-led Government.

The National, ACT and United Future parties all had policies in favour of the mixed membership model and they got 62 or 61 seats out of 121. I have pointed put previously the irony that if Labour had not won Te Tai Tonga, then asset sales would probably have been blocked.

A mandate comes from seats, not votes or polls, in my opinion. But it is interesting to look at the votes for and against parties on this issue.

The combined vote for National, ACT and United Future is 991,374 votes (to date). The combined vote for Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori, Mana and Conservative is 991,150. The difference of 224 is a mere 0.01%.

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