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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

New Zealand election « Previous | |Next »
November 7, 2008

The Labour Government of Helen Clark looks likely to be replaced by the Nationals on Saturday. The polls say a National-led Government. That's the interpretation of the mainstream metropolitan dallies--a comfortable win for the Nationals.

However, the two-vote mixed member proportional system allows smaller parties to play such a significant role, that we need to talk in terms of blocs or alignments consisting of several allied parties. The election has sorted the parties into two blocs. For instance, the Greens are not interested in doing a post-election deal with National. They have also said that they won’t work with Winston Peters in Cabinet. NZ First is not looking like it will be in Parliament, let alone in Cabinet. So it is a contest in which the first-place-getter isn’t automatically declared the winner, and the contest may be tighter than the polls suggest.

New Zealand is already in a mild recession: house prices are falling, wage growth is slowing, households are squeezed by rising prices. The public mood is for change, Clark Labor is seeking a third term, and the change mood is to dump Helen Clark, despite a good record. That makes things tough for Labour, They are fighting desperately against a mood for a change even though the Nationals propose to return to the first-past-the post electoral system.

Labour's campaign has been one of mostly running 100% negative TV ads with their campaign built around the premise that Labour are better than slippery John Key, the leader of the Nationals. There is not much by way of new idea or policies.

The talk is of only miracles can save Labour. Will it be the Maori party? Is Clark’s real hope of regaining power one of cutting a deal with the Maori Party? That would produce a Labour/Progressive/Green/Maori Party coalition and shift the centre left to the left with The Greens and Maori Party demanding new policy initiatives.

Tim Watkin editor of Pundit in NZ sums the situation up thus:

It looks as if National will win the most votes and can count on ACT and United Future for support. Labour will come second, with the Greens and Progressives onside. The questions are whether the centre-right coalition led by National can get enough seats to govern, whether New Zealand First survives to boost Labour, and if the Maori Party can win the balance of power.

If the former, then it is more roads, pieces of privatisation (eg., prisons) and tougher prison sentences but for the next three years National is pretty much tied to the centre.

Well Labour Labour failed to contain the swing to National and the mood for change. Labour has been tossed out of office. It was decisive. Seats that should be solidly Labour slid away from its grasp with Labour losing a decent chunk of its working class, white vote. The National-led right wing bloc, which includes Act and United Future, won 65 of the 122 seats. Helen Clark has resigned as Labour leader and Winston Peters bowed out of parliament.

The country enters what could be its worst recession in decades.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:03 AM | | Comments (3)


I heard Philip Adams do his thing on Radio National--LateNightLive interviewing academic from Auckland University and a NZ journalist. Both were informed and insightful.

What I found disturbing from their commentary is that neither major political party--Nationals or Labour --was saying much about the financial and economic crisis. Both had closed down the issues side of the election and so it had an air of unreality about it.

Anthony Green has some comments here. He says that the Government's strategy is one where:

Clark and Labour have tried to demonise new National Leader John Key as inexperienced. The electorate is warned that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing and his policies mask the harsh economic medicine his party really wants to implement. Every word out of place is blown up by the government as revealing National's hidden agenda.

It was a message the electorate also heard in 2005, when Clark turned around the government's opinion poll deficit by undermining the credibility of National Leader Don Brash during the campaign. The same tactic is being tried in 2008, but this time it doesn't seem to be working.

He adds that even if Labour can narrow the gap in the polls by election day, National may still be far enough ahead to force the minor parties in Parliament to agree to a change of government.

I still can't see why an intelligent people would put in a nelib governemt with a recession on the horizon.
You want peole to cushion it, not add to the greif with their wackier types of social engineering, driven by sado-economics!