Well, I'm up late disregarding the advice of my sleep doctor, because I'm a nerd, and I want to see the New Zealand election returns come on. And quite honestly it's been a hell of a race. As the first returns were trickling in, National (out of power since 1999) had taken an 8 to 10 point lead; now, it's within 0.25 percent between National and Labour and it looks like the result's going to be a hung parliament, if you add up all the other parties. Labour plus the Greens, the new Maori party and Anderton's Progressives have 61 of 122; National plus NZ First, United Future, and ACT are at 61. If I had to hazard a guess i'd say United Future (which I believe currently supports the Clark government) will support another Labour government and give them 64 seats, but it's still a pretty thin margin.
Results are coming in as we speak; in my latest refresh the margin was 999 votes nationwide, National over Labour.
And Israel has finally disengaged from Gaza, though the failure of Palestinian police to prevent looting of settlements and the streaming over the Egyptian border was both sad and inevitable. Honestly, if you are the Palestinian police, is it really worth the effort? When it would cost you so much in terms of public image? Probably not. Sharon's speech at the UN, meanwhile, was a bunch of rhetoric that really means nothing, because everyone still knows he's not going to concede the Palestinians the state they need in order to end this conflict. Well, it's not fair to say it means nothing; as many Israeli commentators are suggesting it means a domestic Israeli political realignment. But in terms of the peace process it will not get Sharon anywhere unless there are concrete proposals for 100% of the occupied territory or its equivalent to return to Palestine, and that includes East Jerusalem.
Labour has taken the lead for the first time tonight, although ironically the additional seat was stolen from the Progressives, meaning the left-center bloc is still at exactly half the seats overall.
Coming up in the next few weeks I'll have more to say about a lot of issues, including domestic American security, the Middle East (of course), and issues more directly affecting college students, as well as my advocacy of proportional representation and my dislike of hippies. For now, it's back to the NZ electoral site and then back to sleep.