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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Referendum: What the government will worry about

The preliminary results for the citizens initiated referendum on the government's mixed ownership model are out - predictably, two-thirds are against and one-third for; turn out was just under 44% of all voters. Also predictably, it's been claimed as a victory which should have the government worried.

The raw numbers are 895,322 against 432,950 for. This is why the government won't be worrying about the result: the 895,322 who felt motivated to vote against the government's policy is much less than the 1,009,850 who voted for the putative Labour-Greens-NZ First government at the 2011 general election. This shows the CIR didn't really convince anyone - those who voted No are most likely the core constituency of those who oppose asset sales anyway.

What the government will actually worry about is that the CIR represents the Greens and Labour working together. Speaking from personal experience, these referendum campaigns are invaluable for political campaigners. You make a lot of connections and gain knowledge about how to run a campaign - the essential stuff of winning a general election. At the same time, it underlines that Labour and the Greens are becoming inextricably tied. That should have many within Labour worried.