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The Greens are pushing for expat votes in UK and Oz

Nov 5th, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Article, Features

THE GREENS are going to the ends of the Earth – literally – to repeat their 1999 success among expat Kiwis, knocking on doors in London and Melbourne.

Having three candidates canvassing overseas voters, the Green Party is trying to harness the potential tipping power of off-shore New Zealand votes as well as increase its influence when it comes to stitching up a coalition agreement.

The party had six seats in the current Parliament but its recent polling of 7.7% would translate into 10 seats.

In 1999, special votes boosted the Greens’ party vote over the 5% threshold. This time, overseas voters could reach 60,000, or 2% of the eligible voting population.

Based on the previous three elections, the total number of special votes will be approximately 7% of eligible voters, a figure large enough to change the outcome in a tightly contested election.

Political commentator Chris Trotter says the Greens have always made an effort to woo New Zealanders overseas, with co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons’ 1999 victory in the Coromandel electorate their stand-out. But he is not convinced they will be able to repeat that effort this year.

“A lot of people who have left New Zealand are susceptible to National’s message,” he says. “I’m not sure it will be quite such a green jamboree as it has been in the past.”

Kiwi Expat Association chief executive Ivan Moss says expats tend to vote for the Green and Act parties, and could play a pivotal role in the final make-up of Parliament.

KEA’s push for off-shore Kiwis to vote in the election has attracted a lot of attention, owing in part to the All Blacks tickets it is offering people who tell their friends to enrol.

The Greens have been on the ground in England and Australia for several months, trying to bolster support for their party.

Green Party list candidates Lizzie Gillett and James Shaw launched their London campaign in August with a film screening of The Age of Stupid, the latest offering from McLibel director Franny Armstrong, while candidate Rayna Fahey hosted the Melbourne launch with DJs Shikun, Theo and the Rent Seeker.

Mr Moss says he is pleased with the enthusiasm shown by overseas voters: “We have seen a 50% rise in enrolments [up from 28,000 in the 2005 election].”

The impact of the overseas and local special votes will not be known until the official vote count is announced, which is expected at 2pm on November 22.

In 2005, National lost a seat after special votes were counted, making it impossible for it to form a coalition in the post-election talks, while in 2002, the Greens gained a seat at United Future’s expense.

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is a graduate of Whitireia NewsWire. He's a reporter for BusinessWire (yes - he does like the wire theme), where he writes daily stories updating currency movements. And he still spends far too much time reading blogs.
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