New Zealand: Kiwis vote to keep flag after 56.6% back the status quo | The Guardian

New Zealand has voted to keep its traditional flag in a snub to the prime minister, John Key. Preliminary results announced at 8.30pm local time on Thursday showed that 1,200,003 (56.6%) of voters wanted to keep the Union flag-centred emblem. Only 915,008 (43.2%) opted for the proposed new design by Kyle Lockwood featuring a silver fern. The results of the referendum, which is estimated to have cost NZ$26m (£12m), are expected be confirmed next Wednesday. The long-serving and popular Key had strongly supported the flag change but it was not enough to win a majority, with many suspicious of him trying to use the issue to build a legacy. However, he said after the results were announced that New Zealanders should embrace the current flag and “more importantly, be proud of it”.

New Zealand: Time runs out in first flag referendum | Radio New Zealand News

The Electoral Commission has advised anyone who has not yet voted in the first flag referendum to get a wriggle on.
The latest figures showed 1,372,783 voting papers have been returned in the flag referendum, representing 43.3 percent of eligible voters – and tomorrow is the last day for people to vote. Electoral Commission chief electoral officer Robert Peden said people could still get their votes in, by dropping it into a Post Shop. “It’s not too late to get your vote in but you really need to get a wriggle on and our advice is to take it to your nearest Post Shop and put it in the box there, just to be sure of getting it back on time.” But Mr Peden said the commission would still count the stragglers.

New Zealand: No prisoner voting rights a ‘dangerous precedent’ | NZ Herald News

Not allowing prisoners to vote is being labelled a dangerous precedent, with claims it could be extended to other groups considered unfavourable. Prisoner Arthur Taylor is representing himself in the High Court at Auckland today, arguing Prime Minister John Key shouldn’t have been elected in Helensville, as Auckland Prison inmates were denied their right to vote. Taylor says a 2010 amendment to the law which stopped them voting is dangerous, as parliamentarians shouldn’t decide who can and can’t elect them. He said there was no telling who the amendment could be extended to, alleging refugees, beneficiaries, or those who earn less than $28,000 could all be on the list.

New Zealand: Clean sweep: New Zealand’s election | The Economist

Winning a third term is a remarkable achievement for any political party. New Zealand’s centre-right National Party did so on September 20th, carried to victory, as expected, by its popular leader and the country’s current prime minister, John Key (pictured). But securing an increased majority over its first and second terms, as National did on Saturday, is astounding: it raked in 48.1% of the vote.  Based on figures from election night, the party will also have enough members to form a government without the need for supporting parties—the first time this has happened since the introduction of the mixed-member proportional voting system in 1996. And even if special votes (yet to be counted) mean that National will not have an absolute majority of 61 in the 121-seat unicameral house, Mr Key is unconcerned: support from the United Future Party, the ACT Party and the Maori Party, which have all supported National Party-led governments in the last two terms, would give the National Party a comfortable majority.

New Zealand: Key wins third term with outright majority in New Zealand’s ‘dirty tricks’ election | Telegraph

New Zealand’s ruling National party secured a third term in government in the election on Saturday, winning an outright majority on a platform to continue strong economic growth. Prime Minister John Key’s centre-right party received 48.1 per cent of the vote, giving it 62 of 121 parliamentary seats and improving its performance on the previous vote in 2011. The 53-year-old former foreign exchange dealer triumphed despite allegations of dirty political tactics involving government ministers, and claims that a government spy agency had planned mass secret domestic surveillance. Investigative journalist and liberal activist Nicky Hager had previously published a book called “Dirty Politics,” which exposed the extent of the National Party’s links with a conservative blogger.

New Zealand: New Zealand prepares to vote after ‘strangest, dirtiest’ election campaign | The Guardian

Election campaign labelled New Zealand’s strangest, dirtiest and most dramatic, reaches a climax as voters go to the polls, though it may take days or weeks before a government is agreed. In the last month conventional policy arguments have been squeezed to the margins, with the ruling National party forced to face down revelations of links to a notorious attack-blogger that hogged headlines for a fortnight. That was soon followed by allegations of deception over state surveillance from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the journalist Glenn Greenwald. In response, the National party leader and prime minister, John Key, maintained a consistent strategy of dismissing the allegations and attacking the messenger’s motives and credibility.

New Zealand: A beginner’s guide to New Zealand’s strangest election | Scoop

We’re in the final few days of an election campaign that has had it all – comedy, conspiracy and claims of dirty politics – though none of it has dented New Zealand National Prime Minister John Key’s chances of winning a third term in power. The predictions market puts 80% odds on a National prime minister after this Saturday’s election. For those tuning in late to what has been a dramatic and sometimes bizarre campaign, here’s just a taste of what you’ve missed. A German internet entrepreneur wanted for extradition by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Kim Dotcom, blows NZ$3.5 million to set up a political party with the hope of taking down the Prime Minister. He flies in Pulitzer prize-winner Glenn Greenwald to allege that the NZ government conducts mass cyber-surveillance of its citizens. Unable to stand for office himself as he isn’t a citizen, Dotcom makes a pre-electoral pact with a Maori MP (Hone Harawira, Mana Party) to give his Internet Party something more than a nag’s chance. Meanwhile, an investigative journalist unleashes scandal after scandal by publishing hacked emails from the right-wing blogger behind a site called Whale Oil.

New Zealand: Social media the new campaign trail |

It’s been the campaign of the selfie, the tweet, and the (leaked) email, and new data shows how politicians and political parties rate on their online interactions. Online mentions of both Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe spiked last night with the TV3 leaders debate, as did comments on minimum wage, tax cuts and income tax. Mentions of Key were higher than comments about Cunliffe during the debate, with a significantly larger number of women than men mentioning Key – although the data does not analyse the sentiment of the comments. The topics discussed during the debate that attracted the most online attention were minimum wage which resonated equally between men and women aged 35-44 and income tax and tax cuts which were mentioned the most by women aged 35-44.

New Zealand: Electoral Commission threatens musician with prosecution over ‘Planet Key’ | NZ Herald News

A musician who wrote a satirical song about Prime Minister John Key has been threatened with prosecution if he sells the track on iTunes. But soul and blues man Darren Watson is fighting back and threatening legal action of his own. The Electoral Commission has written to Watson instructing him to stop selling or promoting Planet Key. The music video satirises the Prime Minister and members of the National Government. It features Mr Key playing a stinging blues guitar solo on an endangered Maui’s dolphin while an oil rig explodes in the background. It also depicts Finance Minister Bill English carrying Mr Key’s golf clubs and the Prime Minister playing golf with US President Barack Obama.

New Zealand: Flag fall: A date for the general election is set | The Economist

When he announced September 20th as the date for the next election, New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, highlighted the difficulties of forming the next government. The country has a voting system of proportional representation much like Germany’s, and a party leader who may hold the balance of power has a record of prevarication. It could, said Mr Key, be a “very complex environment. And if New Zealand First holds the balance of power, goodness knows how long it will take him to decide what he’s going to do.” The “him” in question is Winston Peters of New Zealand First, who after an election in 1996 took eight weeks to decide between throwing in his lot with the centre-right National Party, Mr Key’s bunch, or with the Labour Party. In the end he chose National, but he has since served as a minister in both National-led and Labour-led governments. Mr Key has been pushing Mr Peters to declare beforehand which side he will back. A government supported by a minor party or parties looks likely this time, too.

New Zealand: Prime Minister quashes Porirua move to trial e-voting | Radio New Zealand

Prime Minister John Key has quashed suggestions that the Porirua City Council be allowed to trial electronic voting for the 2013 local body elections. Mayor Nick Leggett wants the Government to approve new regulations enabling electronic voting to take place. Mr Leggett says Porirua has one of the youngest populations in New Zealand and with only 20% of people under the age of 35 voting in local body elections, electronic voting could help lift voter participation. He says so many everyday interactions are done electronically, voting could be as well.

New Zealand: Electoral Commission MMP report tabled |

Opposition parties say the government should adopt all the Electoral Commission’s recommendations for MMP reform. Labour leader David Shearer said it was “well and truly time to ditch the so-called ‘coat-tails clause’ to avoid stitch-ups like the deal done over the tea cups by John Key and John Banks last election”. The clause wasn’t actually used because ACT did not get enough party votes to bring another MP into parliament, however, the party benefited from the clause in 2008. Shearer said Labour was keen to see the government move quickly on the recommendations. The comments came after the government today tabled the commission’s final report in parliament.

New Zealand: Key to Assemble Coalition After Victory in New Zealand Election | Businessweek

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key began forming a government after his National party gained its best election result in 60 years, giving him the mandate to sell state assets in an effort to eliminate a budget deficit.

Key met with senior ministers today and plans talks tomorrow with the ACT and United Future parties, which helped him command a majority in the last parliament and have pledged to back him again. With 60 seats in the 121-member parliament, Key will be able to govern with support from the two parties, which both have one seat.

New Zealand: Serious review to follow close result in New Zealand Mixed-member proportional vote |

The majority of New Zealand has again thrown its support behind MMP, but the close result will mean a serious review by the Electoral Commission. As well as casting the usual party and electorate votes on Saturday, voters were also asked if they thought the country should keep MMP or, if not, what alternative system they would prefer.

With only 290,000 advance votes so far counted, a total of 53.7 per cent back sticking with the mixed member proportional system, while 42.6 per cent said they wanted a change. It could take a further two weeks to count all votes.

The inner workings of the electoral system were in full effect on Saturday night. National won almost half the seats in Parliament, but the party’s lack of a substantial coalition partner means it still needs the support of UnitedFuture, ACT and the Maori Party to form a comfortable majority.