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The Evening Star TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914.

Thb article we published on December 14, in which we analysed, in the light of the imperfect returns of the voting that had then come to hand, the relative strength of the Ministerial (or Reform) and Opposition parties seems to have perturbed some parliamentarians and others who affect to watch the political barometer very closely. The result lias been that we have received quite a number of communications, in which the writers challenge the correctness of our figures and dispute the premises on which we based our conclusions. Wo have neither the space at our disposal nor the inclination to reply categorically to friend or foe (according to his political “color"). Suffice it for tho present occasion and purpose to,quote a communication from an esteemed correspondent at Christchurch, who courteously asks us to supply the data on which our article was founded;—

The Strength of Parties.

, In one of your leading articles on Monday (December 14) you say, without siring the figures upon which, you found your -statement, that there was ,; a .marked decrease in the aggregate poll for Boform.” I am afraid that vou were writing at random. The feature of the election, was the vast increase in the Boform vote and the. striking of the rote cast against Reform. Sir J. G. Ward, just before the election, declared that in 1911 the votes cast for Reform .numbered only three-eighths of the total* or 182,287 voles. The five-eighths against Reforms numbered 205,813. You yourself, and ever so many Opposition papers .and politicians,- have in the past given similar'figures. 3Tow, at last week’s poll the votes for Reform numbered, roughly, 236,000, and the

votes against Reform numbered about 259.C00. Then;, was Abus an increase of about 63,000 in thefßeform vote and a decrease of about 45,000 in the vote against Reform. To put it another way: the Reformers cut down the antiRefonn majority of 121,000 in 1911 to 23.000 in 1914. 1 _ am curious to know upon what figures, if upon any, you Base your astonishing statement concerning “ a marked decrease in the aggregate poll for Reform.”—l am, etc.,. A Christchurch Reformer. Our correspondent was entitled to, and would have obtained an earlier reply, but as we were anxious to furnish a reliable statement wo deemed it prudent to await the receipt 6f quite a number of returns that were in on incomplete state when our article was written, before submitting the corrected figures to expert revision. In the interval more than a score of final returns have come to hand, enabling us to correct patent errors and to reach something like a definite pronouncement. We may say hero that the detailed figures on which the subjoined table is based have been subjected to very searching review, and we take leave to say that, despite our correspondent’s assertions to the contrary, any person not blinded by party prejudice will accept them as trustworthy in the main :

Lite some of our correspondents, wo did not divide the candidates into three groups and label them severally Reform, Opposition, and Social Democrats or Laborites. We made only two divisons—Reform and Opposition—for tho. simple reason that our contention is tho only tenable one—viz., that Labor in all its aspects as well as the Socialists of every degree are ont to encompass the downfall of the Massey Administration, and will vote solidly with tho Wardites in any want-of-confidence motion. In the face of the stronglyexpressed views during the election campaign and before it of tho recognised leaders of the embryonic Third Party, to como to any other conclusion ie to wilfully shut one’s eyes to tho facts of the present unfortunate position. And in estimating the relative strength of parties, as disclosed by tho results of tho second ballots in 1911, we gave Reform tho credit, as we were in honor bound to do, of all tho votes polled by the Socialist candidates, who at that time were regarded as Maascyites, and ought (having regard to the pledges at the hustings) to have voted with the present Head of the Administration when he tried to displace Sir Joseph Ward in February, 1912. And per contra, we claim that we are justified in crediting Liberal-Labor with the votes that were oast for tho four members who were returned at the 1911 election as avowed Wardites, but .who for good and sufficient reasons voted with Mr Massey on all subsequent crucial divisions, 1 and to all intents and purposes joined tho Reform party for the remainder of that Parliament, though two of them refrained from attending the caucuses of that party. There is no need, however, to labor this point, because we have not tho faintest belief that any partisan will accept our figures or agree with our deductions therefrom. These figures are prepared for and submitted to tho “silent” voter for future reference, in the. hope that he will study them for himself, and thereafter profit by the moral which they arc designed to teach. Parliamentarians and politicians of a certain type aro only too obsessed with the knowledge that figures can bo made to prove almost anything; therefore, their case is a hopeless one. But the real lesson of our figures is that the time is ripe for the application of a scheme of Proportional Representation to the Representative Chamber, and the sooner that necessity is recognised the better for tho State and fer tho prospects of a strong and stable Government. “First past the post’’has proved, as we anticipated, a dismal failure in not providing what the Dominion needs at this juncture; it has made confusion more confounded ; and has demonstrated most decisively that the new Parliament, as now constituted, is anything but what a Parliament should be —a true reflex or mirror of the political thought and will of the ration.

1914. 1911. Lib.-Lab. Rfrm. Lib.-Lab. Rfrm. Auckland 79,413 52,076 60,367 57,918 Taranaki 10.353 12,885 12,035 11,825 Hawke’s Bay 12,114 9,834 9,613 10,225 Wellington .. 51,330 46,080 47,553 46,805 TIs. X. Island 153,210 120,875 129,568 126,773 1914. 1911. Lib.-Lab. Rfrm. Lib-Lab. Rfrm. West Coast 10,451 6,902 9,932 8,884 Xelson-Marlb. 8,910 9,039 8,077 8,347 Canterbury 54,647 32.349 49,469 33,773 Otago 36,103 34,258 35,858 32,391 Southland 13,557 9,642 -12,172 10,302 TIs. S. Island 123,663 92,690 115,508 93,697 TIs. X. Island 153,210 120,875 129,568 126,775 Grand TIs. 276,878 213,565 245,076 220,470

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The Evening Star TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914., Issue 15682, 22 December 1914

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The Evening Star TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914. Issue 15682, 22 December 1914

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