NZ's Political Spectrum
Since I started blogging I've been promising to post my 'map' of the New Zealand political spectrum, compiled largely from answers to the Advocates' World's Smallest Political Quiz' given by MPs and party supporters over the last ten years, supplemented by an examination of party policies. (Idiot/Savant has compiled NZ bloggers' positions on a related, though less intuitive spectrum here.)
The questions are different to the somewhat strange ones in the Times quiz, and are designed to test specific positions on the two issues that define one's position in the spectrum, ie., the level of support for personal freedom on the one axis, and economic freedom on the other. I'm happy if anyone wants to suggest NZ-based questions that have a similar rigour to those of the Advocates' quiz. [Email me at organon-at-ihug-dot-co-nz, or suggest them here.]
The collected results over those years do make very interesting reading.
One thing that has been clear right from the early days of running the quiz is that there is a distinct 'phase shift' between party supporters and that party's MPs; ie., a party's MPs are almost always closer to the Authoritarian end of the diamond than are their supporters. Accordingly, you can probably assume the mode of party supporters would be clustered 10-30 points north of their more authoritarian MPs.
I've found consistently this 'phase shift' is most distinct with the Green Party, many of whose supporters score well up in the left-libertarian position of the diamond, but none of whose MPs even come close. (A similar but 'mirrored' result is found with the ACT Party, though a little less distinctly, although many ACT supporters do claim a spot for themselves in the right-libertarian position.)
With most of these Green supporters and their MPs their problem comes in not scoring too highly on issues of economic freedom - and the most consistent reason for not doing so seems to be a poor understanding of economics. People generally do not move towards being more authoritarian rather than less; so it is with Green supporters who, with greater economic understanding, tend to move along the line of greater economic freedom.
With the ACT Party supporters I've found a related problem is often a low commitment to personal freedom - not so much a poor understanding of what personal freedom means, as a blank refusal to countenance that some things are just not the government's business, or that other people should be allowed to do things that they themselves wouldn't want to. Another problem is an insistence on 'compromise,' meaning a disproportionate number of 'maybe' answers.
So as I say, these results have made interesting reading over the years. It's very refreshing to see The Times recognise that the diamond spectrum is of much more use in explaining political allegiance than is the one-dimensional left-right spectrum, and it's clear that this spectrum says much more about relative political positions, and unravels conundrums such as 'are the National Front left or right'? Simply, they're authoritarian.
You can perhaps 'collapse' the diamond to see the traditional one-dimensional spectrum (and then see why ACT and Winston don't get along) but that makes for example both Libz and National Front centrists, right there by National and Labour, and not at opposite polls to each other as they obviously are.
Amongst other virtues, the diamond spectrum -- or 'Nolan Chart' as it is known -- explains quite simply why Libertarianz will often agree with ACT on issues of economic freedom, and with the Greens on issues of personal freedom ... and that many supporters of both Greens and ACT are not really either left or right, they are really libertarian-leaning in either personal freedom (80-odd percent for Green supporters) or economic freedom (80-od percent for ACT supporters). It shows too that both sets of supporters have much to learn from each other -- such a shame about their respective MPs! -- and why neither can be members of their closest centrist party.
It also demonstrates that Labour and National barely differ at all on issues of substance. If they put aside their decades-long personal antipathy to each other, we'd be seeing one-party rule for some years to come.
Grand coalition anyone? I don't think so; somehow it seems as likely as an ACT-Libz-Greens coalition.
[Supporters and MPs: Please feel free to send me your results to the quiz, telling me your score and your party support. As they come in I'll start adding them to the spectrum as an 'airbrush'. Email me at organon-at-ihug-dot-co-nz (confidentiality is assured), or post them here.]
[UPDATE: To give you the substantive scores for all parties and to indicate how the Advocates' present online quiz differs to its previous printed quiz forms, here are the respective quiz forms for each of the parties, compiled as described above : Greens, Labour, National, Winston First and ACT. And as I've indicated, I'm happy to amend scores and positions if a substantive position can be made based on either MPs who send me their quiz answers, party policy positions being pointed out to me which contradict the way they've been scored, or a combination of these.]