Hanging loose out West

Saturday’s snap election in Western Australia could be a harbinger of things to come in New Zealand.

The result is so close that the final tally of seats might not be known until next week.

Interestingly, the election is the first fought on new boundaries which more fairly reflect the population distribution. Things had reached the point that “each member of the Legislative Assembly, as at 30 September 2007, was representing either 28,519 metropolitan voters or 14,551 country voters” (pdf: 66KB).

Whilst the maldistribution had clearly disadvantaged the Labor Party, the new boundaries migth not save Labor from losing power, despite the disarray in the Liberal Party. If it picks up another seat in the counting — 4 of the 6 in doubt were Labor held — and gets an independent on board, then it could still govern.

But it seems that the National Party has emerged as the kingmaker, having picked up at least four seats. Leader Brendon Grylls has met with the Labor and Liberal leaders and says he will wait for the final outcome and talk further with the other leaders. Given that the Nationals are a party of the right, this would stun many of its supporters. But Grylls is pursuing a larger share of the mining royalties for the regions. Watch this space, and reflect on the dynamics.

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