The 2017 New Zealand Political Whores Index

A bar chart of the Political Whores Index, calculated as votes received in the 2017 General Election per $1,000 spent

The New Zealand Electoral Commission has now returned its list of party expenses for the 2017 General Election. This enables us here at VJM Publishing to update 2014’s Political Whores Index. 2017’s Political Whores Index tells us who tried to earn a place in Parliament, and who tried to buy one.

The logic of the Political Whores Index works like this. Political parties spend money at election time to get media exposure, because the more media exposure a party gets, the more votes it gets. This is usually easier and cheaper than actually talking to people and hearing their concerns. Effectively, parties just turn on the media funding tap and votes come out.

The correlation between dollars spent on campaign expenses for the 2017 General Election and votes received is 0.95, which pretty much tells us that our democracy is for sale. The more money you can spend, the more votes, is the hard and fast rule.

So all of our political parties are whores, but it can be said that the more money a party spends and the fewer votes they get, the more of a whore they are. This can be considered whoring because the parties that do it try to buy votes by transmitting a manufactured impression through the media, rather than honestly trying to build goodwill among the people by meeting and talking to them so that they can form their own impression.

This willingness to whore oneself out instead of honestly building a positive reputation among the New Zealand people can be expressed as a ratio of dollars spent on election expenses to votes returned by the populace. As was true of our effort in 2014, which saw the ACT party crowned the whoriest party in New Zealand and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party the most honest one, we will present those ratios in an ordered list.

In the following table, PWI stands for ‘Political Whores Index’ and is calculated by dividing the number of votes each party received in the 2017 General Election by the declared party expenses for each party contesting the 2017 General Election (in dollars), multiplying the remainder by 1,000, then rounding to the nearest whole number.

In other words, it represents the number of votes won per $1,000 spent.

PARTY $ SPENT VOTES PWI
ALCP 1696 8075 4761
National 2546742 1152075 452
Ban1080 7749 3005 388
Labour 2580523 956184 371
NZ First 679095 186706 275
Internet 2322 499 215
MANA 17921 3642 203
Greens 818525 162443 198
United Future 12963 1782 137
Maori 225552 30580 136
Conservative 71764 6253 87
TOP 1013714 63261 62
Democrats 13761 806 59
NZ Outdoors Party 43508 1620 37
ACT 601487 13075 22
NZ People’s Party 274541 1890 7

For the second election running, the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party was, by far, the least whoriest of all the parties that contested in 2017. They returned a staggering 4,761 votes for every $1,000 spent – unarguable evidence that cannabis law reform is an issue that the New Zealand people are demanding. As shown elsewhere, cannabis law reform is the issue that unites real Kiwis.

No other party achieved so much as 10% of this ratio. Many will be surprised to hear that the National Party was second, with 452 votes for every $1,000 spent. In short, the electorate wasn’t particularly displeased with how National was running things, despite that National lost power. Yes, there was widespread misery among the poor and we have the highest youth suicide rate in the world, but people who vote don’t care much about that.

The Ban 1010 Party was 3rd, just edging out Labour, who won 371 votes for every $1,000 spent. It’s curious, perhaps, that Labour and National are both doing quite well by this measure, as they are both mainstream parties. But this simply speaks further to how there was no real appetite for change among Kiwis. People weren’t particularly interested in upsetting the apple cart.

The New Zealand First Party did moderately well, gathering 271 votes per $1,000 spent. Unlike 2014, this was considerably poorer than the National and Labour parties, probably reflecting Winston Peters’s decline as a public speaker, as many of their votes in 2014 were gained through town hall meetings.

The Green Party were the whoriest of the four major parties. They only got 198 votes per $1,000 spent. So they spent about as third as much as National for about one-seventh of the votes. This tells us that the electorate has partially turned against the Green Party message, despite their strong support of the cannabis law reform issue. It may have been that the Green proposal to raise the refugee quota drove a lot of Maori and working class voters to Labour and New Zealand First.

The Opportunities Party was a poor return on investment, although as it was essentially a vanity project it could not be said to have failed simply on that basis. With wall-to-wall saturation coverage on FaceBook and other Internet portals, they spent over a million dollars for a little over 60,000 votes, thereby achieving a PWI of 62 votes for every $1,000 spent.

It’s illuminating to compare the PWI of The Opportunities Party with that of the ALCP. The Opportunities Party spent almost 600 times as much as the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, and won less than 8 times the number of voters. Considering that most TOP voters were voting for legal cannabis anyway, this figure shows that TOP was really a joke party that tried to buy its way into Parliament.

Speaking of joke parties that try to buy their way into Parliament, the Conservative Party scored a PWI of 87, only slightly better than TOP. This tells us that the 5% threshold is really an outstanding idea, because it prevents wealthy, narcissistic freaks from assembling a coterie of arselickers and simply spending so much money on media exposure that they can brainwash the mentally weakest twenty thousand of the population into casting a vote for them.

Worst of all, however, was the New Zealand People’s Party. Also the vanity project of a rich Baby Boomer, they pissed away over quarter of a million dollars for a paltry 1,890 votes. This left them with a PWI of 7, which means that their message was 660 times less appealing to the New Zealand people (all factors equalised) than that of the ALCP.

MANA (203), United Future (137) and the Maori Party (136) all had reasonably poor PWIs, but were still significantly higher than the “fuckwit” parties.

Ultimately, the Political Whores Index suggests that the New Zealand people are quite happy with our current arrangement of two major parties and two minor ones, because none of the more radical parties were able to gain any particularly high level of traction for their amount of electoral spending. It was mostly dollars in, votes out.

Just give us some real cannabis law reform.

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1 thought on “The 2017 New Zealand Political Whores Index”

  1. I think the results can be explained by two effects:

    * Parties with an established track record don’t need to spend as much per vote, because larger parties get more ‘free’ exposure in the media due to their position, and because the cost of communicating a platform to all voters doesn’t depend on how many actually will vote for it (so the cost per vote is inversely proportional to the popularity of the party).
    * Single issue parties can boost their votes if their logo and name act as free promotion for their platform on the ballot paper itself.

    I don’t think it is valid to infer anything about the electorate based on this index alone. Perhaps a 2D scatter plot of spend vs votes would be a better visualisation to see the high spend / low votes parties (although single election expenditure alone will never tell the full picture – people have memories that go beyond one election). The plot looks like this: https://imgur.com/DbjyvnR

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