Voting strategically this election

How can we best use our votes this election to get a fair and flourishing future for everyone?

8 min readSep 19, 2017


This post is longer than usual, because we’re tackling the big question many of you have been asking: how can we best use our votes this election to get a fair and flourishing future for everyone.

tl:dr the government most likely to adopt the policies in our People’s Agenda would be a Labour/Green/Māori government, so if that’s the future you want for our country, those are the parties to vote for at this election.

But a lot of detail sits behind that summary, so we hope you’ll read on to get the full story.

However you look at it, this is shaping up to be one of the closest elections we’ve seen in a long time. Every day we get emails, calls and texts from friends anxious to use their vote wisely to get the government most likely to tackle the big problems facing our country. This post is our answer to them, and to all of you who have asked the same.

A year ago the ActionStation movement voted on a plan to make our own crowd-sourced agenda for this election — putting the values and vision we share at the heart of a plan to build a more fair and flourishing Aotearoa by 2040.

Last week we launched Te Ira Tāngata: People’s Agenda for Aotearoa — the culmination of a process in which hundreds of you gathered over lunches and dinners to discuss our shared future, tens of thousands of you participated in online surveys and hundreds of thousands of you took action.

We promised we would look at the vision and policies of each party, and tell you which were most aligned with our People’s Agenda. So we surveyed the parties. I spent what felt like thousands of hours reading all the parties’ policies on the issues that mattered to the ActionStation community. And we have some winners.

Some of you will have already made up your minds who you are voting for, and some of you will have already voted. Good on ya! You can skip the rest of this post, or maybe read it and forward it to a friend.

Many of you are still deciding where to best place your vote for a fair and flourishing future, and have asked for our analysis of which parties are most likely to:

  1. Adopt the policies in our People’s Agenda,
  2. Get seats in parliament; and
  3. Be able to form a government.

The answer to the first question is clear: the parties most aligned with our People’s Agenda are Greens, Māori, TOP and Mana. Of the two major parties, Labour is more aligned with the policy priorities of our crowd-sourced agenda than National.

In terms of which of these parties are likely to win seats in Parliament, they are Labour, Māori and Green. It is highly unlikely, on current polling, that TOP will win any seats in Parliament. It is possible that Mana will win one seat.

On the third question — which parties are most likely to be able to form government, here are the most likely scenarios based on some excellent analysis from Dominion Post journalist Vernon Small, as well as our own:

1) National-NZ First (with or without ACT and Māori Party)

With National polling at, or slightly above, 40 per cent, the only real route to power for National is via a deal with NZ First. On current trends it is increasingly unlikely that they’ll have the numbers, even then, without the support of another minor party. Winston Peters could allow ACT and/or the Māori Party to be brought into such a deal, but he’s no fan of either. Both ACT and the Māori Party have also said in the past that they wouldn’t be willing to work with NZ First.

2) Labour-NZ First (with or without Greens and Māori Party)

The numbers for this scenario are much the same as a National-NZFirst coalition. And again, on current trends, it is becoming less likely they would have the numbers alone. If the Maōri Party and the Greens have seats in Parliament one or both could guarantee support to Labour without being part of the government. But it won’t be easy to get the Maōri Party and NZ First inside the same tent and although neither the Greens nor NZ First have ruled out working together, they do have some major differences in policy.

3) Labour-Green (with or without Māori Party)

For this to work, Labour would need to get around 44 per cent, and the Green Party above the 5 per cent threshold. On current polling this doesn’t look likely.4 The Māori Party and Green Party together are more likely to have the numbers to carry Labour across the line than just Labour-Greens but this is still a stretch on current polling numbers.

4) Single Party Majority

In this scenario, either National or Labour would be able to form a minority government with commitments of support from smaller parties to its right and its left. For Labour this could be NZ First and the Green Party, for National it could be ACT and NZ First.

This would be an option only if either National or Labour polls around 43 or 44 per cent on election night and their minor party support partners either win an electorate seat (in the case of ACT or get over the 5% threshold (in the case of the Greens and NZ First). In either case it would also require some dexterous negotiating to get either NZ First and ACT, or NZ First, the Greens and potentially the Māori Party all on board.

Of these scenarios, the government most likely to adopt the policies the ActionStation community has campaigned together for over the past three years, and the policies in our People’s Agenda, is a Labour-Green-Māori coalition.

If that is the government you want for New Zealand (it may not be, and that’s cool, our movement is built on a shared vision for the future, even when we don’t agree exactly on how to get there), here’s how you can vote to improve the chances of getting it.

Party vote Labour, Green or Māori

Remembering that the Green Party need to get over 5% of the Party Vote to get back into parliament and be able to either form government with, or provide support to, a progressive Labour government.

Electorate vote Labour in most electorates, except:

Te Tai Tokerau — where you may want to consider voting MANA

The two candidates most likely to win the Te Tai Tokerau seat are Kelvin Davis (Labour) and Hone Harawira (MANA). As Kelvin Davis is the Deputy Leader, he is number two on the party list and therefore guaranteed to get a seat in Parliament regardless of this electorate. If Hone Harawira wins this seat, then MANA will have one seat in parliament, and be likely to support any effort to adopt the policies in our People’s Agenda.

Epsom — where a vote for National’s Paul Goldsmith would decrease the likelihood of ACT getting into Parliament

ACT scored the lowest of any political party in our analysis of their policies and vision against our People’s Agenda. ACT currently have one seat in Parliament, with a not insignificant amount of influence with David Seymour as Under-Secretary of Education. If all of the people who voted Labour or Greens for their electorate vote in Epsom, voted for the next highest ranking candidate Paul Goldsmith from National, then ACT would lose the seat. As they are also polling well below 5 percent, this means it would be highly unlikely they would enter back into Parliament.

Waiariki — where you may like to vote for Te Ururoa Flavell

The top two candidates running for this seat are Te Ururoa Flavell (Māori Party) and Tamati Coffey (Labour). It is also the seat where the Māori Party are polling likely to win. Winning this seat would secure the Māori Party’s future in Parliament.

Te Tai Hauāruru — where you might choose to vote for Māori Party’s Howie Tamati

Polls show Howie Tamati is on track to win Te Tai Hauāuru at 52 percent of the electorate vote. He is polling well ahead of Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe, who is on 39 percent. This is another seat which could secure the Māori Party’s future in Parliament.

The Māori Party are unlikely to get above 5 per cent of the party vote, but if they win either Te Tai Hauāruru or Waiariki, any party votes placed for them will count towards extra seats in Parliament.

But isn’t there a possibility the Māori Party will work with National? The short answer is yes. The Māori Party have made it clear they are willing to work with either Labour or National. However, the Māori Party have pretty much ruled out being in government with NZ First, which is currently the only likely scenario in which National will be able to form government. They have also indicated that they would prefer to be in government with Labour, and that their preferred option would be a Labour-Green-Māori coalition.

So those are some thoughts on how to vote to get the government most likely to adopt many of the policies we’ve campaigned for together over the past three years, and the government most likely to adopt the policies in our People’s Agenda.

Some of you will have already decided to vote for other parties, and that’s great. That’s democracy and the diversity of this movement is a large part of our strength.

After this election — no matter who is in government — we will need to come together, as we always have done, to hold the new government to account. A transparent and accountable democracy is about much more than elections, and our movement is here for the long run, whoever is in power.

But elections are a critical opportunity for us to vote in politicians and parties who will be more responsive to the changes we want to make. A different kind of Government could mean that we collectively move from resisting what we don’t want to re-imagining and rebuilding what we do want.

This year, you can enrol and vote at the same time at any advance voting place anywhere in the country. We encourage you to vote early, and #VoteTogether.

Together we have power. Every vote counts. Be the difference this election.




Community campaigning organisation bringing people together to act in powerful and coordinated ways to create a fair and flourishing Aotearoa for all.