Yesterday (11/18/2014), the New Zealand Labour Party announced that it had chosen Andrew Little as the party's new leader. Last week, FairVote reported on the four-way race for leader and the uncontroversial use of ranked choice voting (RCV) to count the ballot of the thousands of party members and affiliated union members, as well as the parliamentary caucus.
RCV proved crucial--if entirely uncontroversial--to the outcome. After the first round of counting was complete, Grant Robertson had a plurality of the votes but none of the four candidates had a majority of the vote. And so, under RCV, no candidate was elected in the first round.
Grant Robertson, the NZ Labour leader candidate who received a plurality of the votes (Photo Credit: NZ Labour)
Next, Nanaia Mahuta, who received the fewest votes, was excluded from contention. The second choices of voters who voted for Mahuta were taken into consideration at this point. However, still no candidate had yet achieved majority support.
Nanaia Mahuta, the NZ Labour leader candidate who received fewest votes (Photo Credit: NZ Labour)
Finally, David Parker, who had the least support out of the remaining three candidates, was excluded from contention. The second choices of voters who voted for Parker were taken into consideration and, of the two remaining candidates (Robertson and Little), Little has the greatest support. Little also had majority support, winning 50.52% of the vote against Robertson's 49.48%.
David Parker, one of the NZ Labour leadership candidates (Photo Credit: NZ Labour)
Little was able to win the party's leadership only by reaching out to Mahuta and Parker's supporters and asking to be ranked second (or third). In this way, RCV encouraged consensus building and elected the candidate with the broadest support within the party.
Andrew Little during the leadership campaign (Photo credit: Radio Australia)
Although the margin of victory was ever so tight (if one caucus member had voted for Robertson instead of Little, Robertson would have one) and a winner did not emerge until the third round of counting, no one is doubting the legitimacy and the fairness of the use of RCV to determine the outcome. Not even Robertson's supporters.