Can Greece lead the post-neoliberal revolution?

Greece has voted in a far left party that campaigned on ‘anti-austerity”  and have threatened to give more to their people and less to their creditors.

Can they show how a country can succeed by rejecting neoliberalism and going it alone in Europe? Or will it prove that socialism sucks in practice?

If you haven’t heard here is one report:

Greeks hand stunning victory to anti-austerity Syriza

Greece set itself on a collision course with the rest of Europe on Sunday night after handing a stunning general election victory to a far-Left party that has pledged to reject austerity and cancel the country’s billions of pounds in debt.

Colin James – the election in a bubble

Colin James, one of the most astute political journalists, analyses the 2014 election.

An election in a bubble
But within New Zealand as the election campaign wended through August and September there was no general public sense of impending or actual tectonic change, either at home or abroad. So to examine the election we need to put aside the seismic instruments and reach for the GPS locator and the microscope.

New Zealand was in a little bubble of fortuitous economic growth. Rapidly expanding demand for dairy, and to some extent other primary, products, coupled with sky-high dairy prices was one factor. The rebuilding of Christchurch, by early 2014 fully in gear, was another. They generated numbers that built very strong business confidence. The commentary was optimistic.

This fed into improved household finances, which are the marker for how the economy plays in elections. There had been modest gains in income and jobs and there was cautious to modest confidence the improvement would continue. Consumer confidence was strong through 2014, though it peaked midyear.

And the government projected confidence in itself and competence.

At its apex was a tight trio. John Key was the presenter. Bill English was the fiscal manager and policy wonk who at the ministerial level was associated with most reforms, including the public service (“more with less”, then a set of quantified “results” stretching out several years and in some cases crossing portfolio boundaries), tax, water policy (using the “collaborative governance” technique involving all interest groups to generate a consensus), education and social assistance (welfare). For welfare English imported from ACC the actuarial-investment approach which may be the National-led government’s most important innovation. Steven Joyce was the project manager, focused on short-term measures designed to lift GDP growth (a way of thinking akin to business quarterly reporting) and quick to heavy those who got in his way, overshadowing the ministers in related economic development portfolios such as energy and ensuring other initiatives didn’t get in the way of GDP growth.

These three formed a strategic inner cabinet with Gerry Brownlee, who brought the “ordinary person’s” perspective, and Murray McCully, billed as a political strategist though actually more of a tactician with a touch of Rasputin in his manner. Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges occasionally looked in.

Down the cabinet Tony Ryall squeezed more from hospitals and kept the pips from squeaking too much, Chris Finlayson set a cracking pace in Treaty of Waitangi settlements and Tim Groser did trade, with aplomb, and climate change, hampered by conceptual and Joycean difficulties.

Failures and lapses of oversight management of weaker or blinkered ministers didn’t detract significantly from public confidence (though did raise questions about Key’s management). Likewise, growing agitation about “inequality” didn’t translate into a shift in support for opposition parties riding that issue. And when something went badly wrong, as in the collapse of the badly managed Pike River coalmine in 2010, the response was remedial legislation.

Moreover, Key proved remarkably adept at getting underperforming or ageing ministers and MPs to contemplate life after politics. Come election time 2014, 15 of those elected in 2011 had moved on, with zero fuss. No such regeneration of a major party has been done in “peacetime” (that is, while in power) before.

And a macro-personality
Key himself was the fourth main factor working for the government. He is likeable, blokey and jokey and at home with radio “shock jocks”, good with his family, an easy mixer, moderately pleasant-looking and plausible. He was trusted to get things more or less right, even if some things he did were not entirely in accord with proper process. (That is how trust works in politics: Australian Prime Minister John Howard was re-elected in 2007 despite being exposed as having larded the facts in the 2004 campaign over an incident involving would-be illegal immigrants.)

Key, in short, is a macro-personality. A macro-personality personifies the party and attracts votes to him/herself, including many who would not otherwise vote for the party. [Anderson 2014]

Voters are prepared to give such macro-personalities the benefit of the doubt – as they did in Key’s case over the revelations by the self-regarding Nicky Hager in his book of emails detailing grubby behind-scenes National party machinations, launched on 13 August [Hager 2014]. This was despite Key’s evasive responses to the book’s charges and his implausible labelling of the controversy it caused as a “leftwing conspiracy” and despite, or because of, his firing of Judith Collins on 30 August when a rightwing blogger publicised claims (not upheld in the subsequent government inquiry) that she had helped undermine a senior public servant. Voters told focus group pollsters they didn’t understand the implications of the Hager assertions and their relevance to the election and few deserted National on that score. (The relevance to the election is that proper conduct and process according to the rules – that is, a well-functioning democracy – is the issue in an election [James 2014, 1]. But that would be likely to play a decisive part in people’s decisions as to how to vote only if it stripped trust off a party or leader.)

The improved economy and household finances, the picture of government competence and Key’s macro-personality added up to very strong positive readings in the UMR and Morgan polls that the country was on the right track, going in the right direction. Such a high reading normally points to re-election of the incumbent government in some form, though possibly with a more complicated coalition than in the first two terms.

And no visible alternative government
There was a fourth factor: the lack of a clearly visible alternative government.

Through 2013 the combined polling by Labour and the Greens headed National’s polling by 0.5%. This suggested there was a genuine choice between a Labour-Green-led government and a National-led one.

It also suggested, given reasonable polling for New Zealand First, that the outcome could very well depend on the choice Winston Peters made after the election.

By April or May – and certainly by July – Peters was looking more likely to go with National. This was even though he harboured a deep resentment at Key’s treatment of him in 2008 over his acceptance of business donations, which probably contributed to New Zealand First party’s exit from Parliament in the 2008 election. The likely choice of National was also despite New Zealand First’s manifesto being much close to Labour’s policy line than National’s, its conference-delegate-level rank and file likewise being nearer Labour than National and some serious sticking points with National, including over immigration and inward foreign investment.

Labour could at best offer Peters only third in a Labour-led lineup after the Greens – and even then might need Internet Mana votes for a majority. With National, New Zealand First would have been second biggest, far ahead of National’s three micro-party supports.

Moreover, by April-May Labour’s support was sliding. There is a range of reasons for that but one is that David Cunliffe as leader fluffed his lines on several high-profile occasions, was exposed as having a secret trust to fund his campaign for the Labour leadership in 2013, accused Key of having a house in a leafy suburb when he did too and said different things to different audiences. Cunliffe, though personable, a capable debater of Key on television and an orator with presence, was no macro-personality. If anything, he was a negative factor.

In addition, Cunliffe had drawn back from the cooperative relationship with the Greens that had been developing in 2013 under the previous leadership of David Shearer. When the Greens tried to resuscitate the cooperation in May, proposing the two parties campaign as a coalition, Cunliffe rejected that – but then did not fill the void with a formulation that would have given a clear voting option to those looking for an alternative government to vote for.

That turned away those looking for an alternative government and set a spiral. Labour slid in the polls and the more it slid the less attractive it looked and the more it slid.

Populism and poison
And as Labour slid, some voters wanting a brake on National shifted to New Zealand First, which climbed from a poll average of 4.9% at mid-August to 8.7% in the election. There may also have been an element of brake-seeking in the Conservatives’ 4.0%: while the Conservatives were to the right of National on moral and social issues, they were not market-liberals: they were against open foreign investment and asset sales and wanted binding referendums as a restraint on governments.

There was also probably an element of populist response in the rise in these two parties’ votes: populism is a channel for voting “against” policies and people, especially the elites, or just in protest at financial and other stress. But, compared with the populists waves in Europe and the United States, the 2014 election in New Zealand was very mild. (Unless Key’s macro-personalisation of National could be interpreted as a brand of populism.)

Might the Hager exposures have generated a quasi-populist surge to Labour away from National? If anything, polling suggested Labour was damaged as much as National. Voters seemed to read the phrase “dirty politics” as a tautology: all politicians do it, so what? Key rode it out, even though initially handling it ineptly.

In addition, Kim Dotcom administered what he himself on election night called “poison”. The more Labour slid in the polls, the more it looked to voters it would need Dotcom’s faustian Internet-Mana concoction: Dotcom’s lavish funding of a joint campaign in return for leveraging some seats on the back of Hone Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau seat. The poison killed Harawira’s hold on his seat. It attracted few of the young freedom-and-idealism voters whom Internet leader Laila Harre (ex-Alliance, ex-Green) discerned as potential recruits (as the Pirates had briefly in Germany). Those it did attract were mainly in the “university” seats where the Greens do best. At one of the rock-concert parties Dotcom put on to attract young people he got them chanting “Fuck John Key”. His trumpeted king hit on Key on 15 September which featured United States spy leaker Edward Snowden, Snowden write-up journalist Glenn Greenwald and Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange detailing spy cooperation with the United States fell flat. An alleged 2010 Warner Brothers email of a secret plan involving Key about Dotcom’s extradition appeared to be a fake.

Dotcom’s achievement, apart from destroying Mana and tainting Labour, appears (from discussions with National activists) to have been to add weight to National’s campaign to persuade National-leaning potential non-voters to vote. That, plus dumping Mana’s support into the wasted vote, was likely the difference between National forming a government with its three lapdog support parties and needing New Zealand First.

Targeting the vote
After the 2011 election there was much talk, especially on the Labour side, of the “enrolled non-vote” and of declining overall voter turnout. On 29 May 2014 the Electoral Commission sponsored a one-day conference to discuss this and promote, especially to young people, the value of voting.

In the runup to the 2014 election National worried that its supporters might become complacent and deprive it of the votes needed to form a stable government post-2014. At the party’s annual conference on 28-29 June John Key and campaign manager Steven Joyce hammered home the need to activate every possible National vote. That message was repeated at the launch on 24 August. According to party officials, twice as many phone calls were made to actual and potential supporters as in 2011. By using electorate demographic data from the election study and coupling that with the party’s own extensive canvassing data, National was able to target its calls and the content and vehicle of its messages and follow-up contact better.

Labour drew on United States techniques [Issenberg, 2013] to run an even more targeted campaign than National, trialled successfully in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti and Christchurch East by-election campaigns in 2013 and drawing on meshblock-level data (as described in detail elsewhere at this conference by Rob Salmond). The voters targeted were those who had not voted in 2008 and/or 2011 who had characteristics likely to tip them into the Labour camp if they voted. Labour officials say around four times the calls were made than in 2011.

Logically, if the two main parties were equally effective in getting sympathetic non-voters to vote, Labour should add more votes to its total than National. That is because past experience indicated more Labour-leaning people were likely not to vote than National-leaning voters. One argument is that those in lower socioeconomic and minority ethnic groups perceive less of a stake in the system than those in higher socioeconomic and those of mainstream ethnicity, as evidenced, for example, in the low turnout in successive elections in Maori electorates and general electorates with a high proportion of Maori and Pasifika.

But the broad results suggest National was more effective than Labour: the biggest swing to National in a block of seats was in its strong seats on the Auckland isthmus. Labour could not counter the strong tide running for National and against itself.

The Greens also did far more canvassing, in keeping with their status as clearly the third largest party and their greater political professionalism.

National’s small parties – and the going home of the Maori vote
In the election voters did serious damage to National’s three small support parties.

ACT, which early in 2014 had grandiose visions of nine MPs, [ACT 2014] finished with only the Epsom seat, by grace of National indicating to its supporters that they should cast their electorate vote for ACT’s David Seymour, and 0.69% of the party vote, down from 1.07% in 2011. United Future got Peter Dunne’s Ohariu seat, also by grace of National’s nudging its supporters Dunne’s way. But Dunne won only narrowly and United Future won only 0.22% of the party vote, so low that Dunne’s is an overhang seat. ACT might well survive and even possibly grow a bit in 2017. But United Future is close to extinction, which was in effect acknowledged by Dunne himself in an address to the United Future board on 15 November in which he said the party needs to go back to basics and focus afresh on core principles – though Dunne also said in that address that membership had grown. [Dunne 2014]

For the Maori party the election spelt near-asphyxiation: down to two seats and only one electorate seat from a high point of five of the seven Maori electorate seats in 2008. The Labour party is in control with six of the seven – or is it?
From a Maori perspective the logic is that a Maori party or grouping holds the Maori electorates. This has been the case three times in the past 100 years: after 1935 when the Ratana movement progressively won all four seats (the total at the time); in 1996 when New Zealand First’s “tight five” held all five seats (the total at that time) in a party led by a Maori, Winston Peters, who was endorsed by Tuwharetoa paramount chief Sir Hepi te Heuheu; and in 2005 and 2008 when the Maori party won four, then five, of the seven.

In each case the Maori grouping lost its independence. Labour over time absorbed the Ratana movement and the seats became Labour seats that happened to be Maori, not Maori seats that happened to be Labour-aligned. Labour lost one of the seats in the 1993 election, then all five in 1996. Four of the “tight five” split from New Zealand First when it left its coalition with National in 1998 and all five lost their seats in 1999. The Maori party, which entered National’s governing coalition in 2008, split in 2010 when Hone Harawira formed Mana, then lost support.

The bulk of voters in Maori electorates, if pushed to a choice between Labour and National, choose Labour, as the party votes since 1996 reflect. In effect, New Zealand First’s “tight five” and the Maori party delivered Labour-side votes to National.

The Maori party’s decision to formally support the National-led governments of 2008 and 2011 was logical. It gave the Maori party some influence with the government and it used that to advance specifically Maori cultural or self-management ambitions. Among the gains were: the whanau ora Maori-run social services programmes; New Zealand’s signature to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and a rewrite of the 2004 Labour-led government’s legislation which overrode the Supreme Court decision that iwi and hapu could argue traditional ownership of stretches of foreshore and seabed – the trigger for then Labour MP Tariana Turia’s defection to form the Maori party.

Despite the cost to its support, the same logic continued to apply even after the 2014 election – principally to preserve and develop whanau ora, out of respect for Turia whose policy it was and for fear that if the Maori party was absent from the ruling coalition, National would let whanau ora atrophy. Yet there was a strong view within the party, expressed vigorously at the post-election annual general meeting on 1 November, that the National link was toxic, that the Maori party was seen as in effect an arm of a National-led government which had not operated in the interests of lower socioeconomic strata where the bulk of Maori electorate voters were. That only 55% of Maori opted for the Maori electorate rolls after the 2013 census compared with 58% in 2006 (from 55% in 2001 and 54% in 1997) may reflect disenchantment with the Maori party; the percentage had been expected to rise, not fall; the eighth seat hoped for did not eventuate.

Come 2017 it is possible the Maori party’s vote might lift a bit if some of Mana’s voters return. More likely, it will either stay at two seats or contract on to Te Ururoa Flavell’s Wairiki electorate or even possibly lose that seat if Labour continues to pick up votes there and if Mana’s Annette Sykes is not a contestant. If Flavell were to hold his seat and join a Labour-led government, that would de facto deliver that seat to Labour.

But that is not to say that Labour has the seats back for good. There will be more Maori movements. To develop a durable hold on the seats, Labour will have to learn to treat those it holds as Maori seats that happen to be Labour.

From Colin James to the Victoria University post-election conference, 3 December 2014 DRAFT – MAYBE SUBJECT TO ADJUSTMENT

Chris Hipkins on the election result and Labour’s future

Chris Hipkins, MP for Rimutaka and Labour’s Chief Whip, gave a speech in today’s Address In Reply – he congratulated National on an election win that gave them a clear mandate, he acknowledged Labour’s poor result and some of their poor efforts over the past few years, and he detailed what he thought Labour needed to be and needed to do do.

Speech – CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka)

Draft transcript – Wednesday, 29 October 2014 – Address in Reply debate

CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka): Thank you very much, Mr Assistant Speaker Mallard. Can I congratulate you on your elevation to your new role, and can I congratulate the National Party members on their re-election as the Government. It is not the election result that I was out there campaigning for, but I do want to acknowledge that it was a clear election result and congratulate them on that.

I would also like to thank the people of Rimutaka for once again investing their trust and confidence in me to be their elected representative in Parliament. It is a tremendous privilege and an honour to represent the people of my home town, and I look forward to doing so again over the next 3 years.

As I mentioned, it was a disappointing election result for the Labour Party, and I want to acknowledge that, and I say to the New Zealand public “message received”.

Clearly, the Labour Party in recent times has not been speaking to the hopes and aspirations of a wide enough section of New Zealand society, and that is a challenge that we need to take on board as we head through the rest of this parliamentary term.

New Zealanders want to hear us talking about the issues that matter to them, but New Zealanders also want to know that if they work hard they will be able to get ahead, and that there is a Government in place that rewards the hard work and effort of all New Zealanders, not just those at the top.

New Zealanders want to see the Labour Party being a voice for the people who are struggling at the moment and working hard but not able to get ahead to create a better life for themselves and their families.

That is what the Labour Party has always stood for, and that is one of the challenges that we face in this Parliament—to return back to some of those basic principles upon which the Labour Party was founded, and to speak to the hopes and aspirations of a much broader range of New Zealanders.

I said that we should be celebrating success and we should be ensuring that those who work hard are able to get ahead. I want to quote, rather unusually perhaps, or rather controversially, Frank Underwood, the chief whip in the American television series House of Cards.

Hon Maggie Barry: Now you’ve got our attention.

CHRIS HIPKINS: That is right—he is a great role model. Frank Underwood said that those of us who have done well in life have a responsibility to send the elevator back down. I think that that summarises a lot about what the Labour Party does stand for and what we should stand for.

Yes, we should be celebrating the success of those who have done well in life, but having done well in life we then have responsibilities to others around us to ensure that they have those same opportunities that we have enjoyed.

I have little time for people who boast about being born in a State house and then seek to sell off State houses and remove those vital social services from future generations.

I have little time for people who talk about how they dragged themselves up by their bootstraps, raised themselves, and relied on the State support that was available to them, and then seek to limit those same State supports to future generations of New Zealanders. That is pulling up the ladder behind them and it is blatantly unfair.

There is nothing wrong with them being proud of their success—they have every right to be. My challenge to them and my challenge to everybody else is to ask what they are doing to share opportunity around so that others have that same opportunity. That is the challenge for this Government.

I similarly congratulate people who have done well in business. I think that creating a business, building a business, and being successful in business is a fantastic thing, and it is something we should encourage and reward New Zealanders for doing. But we should also recognise that businesses exist within communities.

Yes, it is great that somebody has built a business and has made him or herself into a successful business person, but we should never forget the fact that they are using a workforce that was educated by the rest of us. The education of their workforce was paid for by the New Zealand taxpayer. They transport their goods on roads paid for by everybody. They have their property rights protected by law enforcement agencies paid for by all of us.

So, yes, it is great that we celebrate the success of businesses, but businesses exist within communities and businesses and those who create them and run them have responsibilities back to those communities as well. We should be looking at both sides of that equation.

It is great to celebrate success and we should do that more often, and I have no hesitation in saying so, but we should also talk about the reciprocal responsibilities that come with that. We should do that as well. There is no doubt that New Zealand faces some big challenges, and we are going to have to address some of those over the life of this Parliament and beyond.

We have a significant change in the demographics of our population, as our population gets older. Our older New Zealanders have the right to security in retirement, and dignity in retirement, but we also have a responsibility to ensure that our settings around that are sustainable into the future.

As we have more and more New Zealanders leaving the workforce and into retirement, and as we have more and more New Zealanders living longer, with the pressure that brings on the health care system , we need to make sure we can continue to pay for that, so that it is not a hollow promise.

And yes, it might be politically convenient to push those debates aside in the short term , but in the longer term we are going to have to address those, and it is better to have an honest and open discussion about that now rather than pushing that away for future generations to have to confront.

We do need to talk about how we lift New Zealand’s economy up the value chain so that we are creating higher-value jobs.

I have lost count of the number of people whom I have spoken to in my electorate who say: “We are willing to do the heavy lifting. We do not mind getting out there and working hard, because we want a better life for ourselves and our families, but no matter how hard we work at the moment we cannot get ahead. We cannot get a foot on the property ladder. We cannot provide all of the things that we want to be able to provide for our kids.”

Those are ordinary, everyday New Zealanders who are happy to do the hard work, they are happy to get out there. They just want a Government that makes sure they have the opportunities. And that is what the Labour Party stands for. We want to say to those New Zealanders: “We stand beside you.”

In the Labour Party we want to make sure that the opportunities are there so that those who work hard can be rewarded and can get ahead.

In the Public Service we have a challenge here with a Government that is overly focused on measurement and is only focusing on the things that can be easily measured, rather than on many of the things that are important. In education, for example, it is easy to focus on what can be measured.

So we can have a measurement that says that every child has to achieve national standards and get National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2 . What happens if they leave school and still end up going on the unemployment benefit at the end of it? Surely the thing that we should be focused on is the outcomes, and the outcomes are more difficult to measure, and therefore manage, than the outputs, if you like, in the form of qualifications.

These are the honest and real debates that we should be having. We in the Labour Party will be holding the Government to account in this term of Parliament.

We recognise the election result that has delivered the National Party a clear mandate to be the Government, but we have a responsibility to hold the Government to account, and we will do that.

We will hold it to account when it sells off State housing, as National has done in the past.

We will hold the Government to account when it tries to inflict employment law changes on the vast bulk of the working population that benefit the few and penalise the many.

We will certainly hold them to account on issues around foreign policy and stay fast and true to the principle of New Zealand being a proud independent country that makes its decisions on foreign policy independently.

We will hold the Government to account on issues around child poverty, because in a country that is as rich as New Zealand—and although we might not always feel it, we are a rich country—there is simply no excuse for children to be growing up in this country living in poverty. I want to acknowledge over the last few years that the Labour Party has not always put its best foot forward.

We have sometimes struggled with the challenges of balancing Opposition with proposition.

We have two roles here. One is to point out where the Government is going wrong and hold it to account, but the other is to be proposing alternatives, and we need to make sure that we do that in a positive way.

I also want to acknowledge that it has been difficult to provide space for robust internal democracy whilst also presenting a unified and coherent vision to New Zealanders, and I think we will need to redouble our efforts there.

We need to make sure we look outwards to the half a million New Zealanders who used to vote for the Labour Party and now vote for someone else.

My message to all of them is: the Labour Party is back, we want to talk to you, we want to engage with you, and we want to know, quite frankly, what it is going to take to get you to reinvest your vote in the Labour Party. I think that is the discussion that we will have over the next 3 years.

To conclude—it is a fantastic honour and a privilege to be back in the House representing the people of the Rimutaka electorate. I thank them once again for the opportunity to serve and represent them.

I would be dishonest if I said I was not disappointed with the election outcome. I would far rather be sitting on the Government side of the House than on this side of the House, but I have received, like all of my colleagues, the message that the voters of New Zealand have sent to us, and I can tell this Government that it is in for a tough 3 years.

We will be rigorous in holding it to account, and we are absolutely resolved and determined that in 3 years’ time we will be over there on the Government side, and they will be over here.

That is the challenge that is ahead of all of us. We will certainly be focused on that because I believe that New Zealanders deserve better. John Key has failed to deliver them the brighter future that he promised them, and the Labour Party will be holding him to account for that.

Labour denial and delusion continues

NZ Herald asks What’s wrong with Labour? Len Richards, Service and Food Workers Union organiser, provides some explanations, but not in the way he intended.

What went wrong?

More than a decade of dirty politics aimed at demonising and destabilising the Labour Party by well-organised and well-funded opponents have taken their toll.

The ‘dirty politics’ excuse is wearing thin. Attempts at “demonising and destabilising” opposing parties have been a part of politics forever. Nicky Hager overplayed the ‘dirty politics’ hand to swing the election and failed – it helped National more than the left.

I don’t like dirty politics but that’s a criticism aimed as much at Labour and the left as National and the right.

The opinion polls reflect the public mood deliberately created by the spin doctors of the right, and the very poor election results for Labour over the last three elections reflect the polls.

“The polls are rigged” is another tired old excuse. Like David Cunliffe Richards is avoiding responsibility, but poll conspiracies tend towards nut-job territory.

In response, our last two campaigns were run by many electorates as if MMP did not exist. Labour tried to win electorate seats rather than the party vote.

Blaming some electorate MPs is indicative of the factional rift that is tearing Labour apart. It’s up to the party leader and organisation to lead the campaign for party votes.

This time Labour received 200,000 more candidate votes (34 per cent) than party votes (25 per cent).

Perhaps that’s an indication that while some candidates are well supported by voters the party as a whole was not seen as a viable lead party in Government. Failure from the top again.

With 34 per cent of party votes we would be in government.

A forlorn “what if”. If Labour had got 34% instead of 25% (a huge reality gap) with Green’s 1-11% they would still have relied on Winston Peters to choose Labour over National.

How can Labour fix it?

A leadership change now will do more harm to Labour than good. David Cunliffe is more than a match for John Key. Our problems lie elsewhere.

The current lack of leadership – Cunliffe barricaded himself at home after the election, emerged to take a battering from his caucus on Tuesday and then disappeared back home for the rest of the week.

Cunliffe was far from a match for John Key, talking over him in a few debates didn’t win anything.

(NZ Herald)

Heads in the sand won’t revive Cunliffe’s leadership. Who wants a Prime Minister who goes into hiding “to contemplate his future” when the going gets tough? Cunliffe was unpopular with voters last Saturday. That has likely deteriorated significantly since then.

Labour’s policies are not “too left wing”. We lost votes to NZ First because Winston Peters outflanked us on the left. Labour pulled its punches.

Peters outflanked Labour on the left and right.

Labour needs to build its base among the people it represents. We need to turn outwards, to recruit, and to organise.

Yep. Should have been working on that after their 2008 defeat. Now it’s hard to know what people Labour represents apart from some out of touch unionists.

We need to go on the offensive and put up a credible alternative to the domination of society by the pursuit of profit at any cost. And campaign for the party vote.

“The domination of society by the pursuit of profit at any cost.” Out of touch with reality unionist. There’s a few on the left who believe this bull but most voters don’t see it as anything other than ideological nonsense.

If a business pursues profit ‘at any cost’ it will probably cost them their business.

Is the party prepared to do it?

The party showed over the last period that it is prepared to take a strong stance. The change in rules to democratise the election of the leader and the election of David Cunliffe is evidence of this.

This resulted in the election of a leader that didn’t have the support or confidence of his caucus. That’s proven disastrous for Labour in the election and this week.

The party needs to continue to stand firm and deal with its internal discipline problems.

Deal with it’s internal discipline how? Sack the majority of caucus? That’s not even possible, they are elected for another three years.

Whippings and unityI posted this when things were much better in Labour.

The Labour Party has a rock-solid social base. We can take heart from these supporters who gave us more than 60 per cent of the party votes in some electorates.

Rock solid?

  • 2002 – 41%
  • 2005 – 41%
  • 2008 – 34%
  • 2011 – 27%
  • 2014 – 25%

Very few electorates gave Labour more votes than National last Saturday.

As the problems of a system in crisis worsen and proliferate, Labour solutions will gain support if we organise and mobilise around them.

This is tragically ironic as the problems of a Labour in crisis worsen and proliferate.

The people see through old Labour and old unions with their forlornly fading fulminations.

Sorry to Len Richards for picking on him but he’s symptomatic of the entrenched old guard at The Standard and elsewhere in social media and the Cunliffe residence.

Labour needs something different, new and forward looking. That won’t happen if they continue to be dragged down by denial and delusion.

Predictable result

In the main the election result and sub-results were quite predictable.

Polls were a reasonable indicator but only look backwards so show trends that have happened. They can’t predict to late campaign shifts that are common.

This election was peculiar in that many decisions were put on hold until Kim Dotcom’s big reveal. When it came to nothing it strengthened resolve of swing voters to ensure National retained it’s hold on Government.

Labour dropping below poll results was not surprising. They were obviously not going to do well and non-committed voters either change their minds or simply don’t bother voting.

Claims like “but Cunliffe ran a good campaign” have been proven wrong. As David Shearer said, the end result was tragic for Labour. Cunliffe may have appeared to be campaigning strongly but he puts on a variety of acts. While they might be slick acts voters see through this lack of genuineness. Cunliffe also has a problem that is probably unresolvable – too many people simply don’t like his persona (or personas).

Greens will be disappointed to have struggled to maintain their level of support while Labour were shedding votes. Greens weren’t able to pick them up. This suggests that 10-12% is the upper limit for them. This also shouldn’t be surprising outside the Green bubble. People like to have a party promoting environmental issues but most don’t like the extreme Green stances like no drilling, no fracking, no motorways.

And Greens misread public sentiment if they think that handing out more money to poor people with no responsibilities applied will be popular. Middle New Zealand see this as imposing costs and taxes on them. Socialism is fringe ideology these days.

Winston Peters is adept at picking up protest and shedded votes. NZ First gained vote, gained MPs but otherwise gained nothing. Most of the 91% who didn’t vote NZ First will be happy with this outcome.

The 5% threshold always looked a very high hurdle for Conservatives and so it proved. This was a failure of MMP. The threshold should be no higher than 3%. I don’t personally support the Conservatives but their missing out is a travesty of democracy.

Hone Harawira losing his electorate was a bit of a shock but not really surprising given the severely compromised position of Harawira and Mana hitching their ambitions to Kim Dotcom. Dotcom’s expensive disaster was Harawira’s failing.

Internet-Mana was always a high risk alliance. They might have succeeded as a combined party but Dotcom realised too late that his brand was toxic and he couldn’t resist being prominent. His final week failure to deliver on his promises to hit John Key compounded the problem.

Laila Harre severely compromised her credibility and was still blind to this yesterday, blaming everything but reality. Her political future is very limited.

The Maori Party lost two of their three electorates as widely predicted. For the first time they had sufficient party vote to pick up a list seat to go with Te Ururoa Flavell’s retained seat. Flavell was a minor star of the campaign but will have a difficult job keeping the Maori Party afloat.

David Seymour retained Epsom as expected but also as expected ACT failed as a party. Jamie Whyte failed to step up as leader in a challenging attempt to rebuild a battered brand.

Peter Dunne held is Ohariu seat. That didn’t seem to surprise anyone but unrealistic Labourites from the electorate. As a party United Future was nowhere to be seen, and accordingly votes were nowhere to be seen, dropping to a third of the low return they got in 2011.

Just two more seats for National but this strengthens them substantially, giving them a majority vote on their own as long as they don’t lose any seats this term. They also have ACT, Dunne and Maori Party support options on standby.

Just two less seats for Labour and this weakens them substantially. The result is tragic for them and the outlook is no better. They have done very little to move on the old guard and bring in new talent. They seem out of touch with their constituency of last century. They have yet another failed leader with no obvious replacement. This was also predictable.

Labour have failed for six years to rebuild from the Clark/Cullen era. Unless someone out of the ordinary steps up their future looks bleak.

National campaigned on ‘steady as she goes’ and the voters delivered the platform for National to be a little more politically steady than expected providing outstanding issues don’t impact too much.

Judith Collins has already been sidelined and is expendable should inquiries further damage her.

Now the election is over ‘dirty politics’ should be addressed by Key. And by Labour. And to a lesser extent by Greens. Peters won’t change from his habit of attack without evidence but he will be largely impotent unless the media keep pandering to his baseless allegations.

Some embarrassments may emerge for Key and National out of surveillance and GCSB issues but they look to have been overplayed, and most people accept the need for some surveillance protection.

The simple fact is that most people don’t feel threatened by surveillance and they are concerned about about terrorism.

And it’s ironic that the supposedly net-savvy who campaign strongly against surveillance must be aware that the Google and Twitter and Facebook social media tools they willingly use are tracking what they do far more than any government.

But we can predict they will continue to fight for a free internet that gives them far more public exposure than they ever had. They claim that privacy is paramount in a very public online world.

Otherwise we can predict have much the same Government as we’ve had over the past six years. Most people will be comfortable with that.

It’s harder to predict if Harawira will make a comeback or if Mana will survive their battering and their harsh reality check.

If Dotcom pulls the plug on Internet Party funding it’s demise can be predicted. If that happens it can also be predicted that Laila Harre will find it very difficult to find another party that would risk being tainted by her lack of loyalty and sense.

It is not hard to predict that Labour’s struggle to be relevant and their lack of connection to anyone but some special interest groups will continue.

John Key has shown he is aware of the dangers to National of complacency and arrogance – it can be predicted that some of his MPs will struggle to heed his warnings. But most likely things will continue much as they have.

Gagging social media on election day

Now we have heavily promoted advance voting for two weeks leading up to the election, during which time campaigning for votes is full on, it’s more than a little anachronistic that on election day itself publishing anything that may influence how someone votes is forbidden by our electoral law.

This was originally an exclusion on media advertising or reporting. That is now extended to not only blogging but to all social media commenting.

Up until Thursday night (Friday’s figures haven’t been posted yet) the Electoral Commission report that 557,174 people had advance voted and they expect the final figure to be around 700,000.

In the 2011 election 2,278,989 voted. If a similar total votes this time that means about one third will have advance voted while campaigning and vote soliticiting was very active.

So it’s odd that the rest of us are protected from influence in election day.

The Electoral Commission states:


This guidance has been produced to help candidates, parties and third parties comply with the law by setting out the general rules for behaviour on election day and during the advance voting period.

Any activities (including advertising) promoting the election of a candidate or party, or attacking a party or candidate, are prohibited on election day before 7pm (Saturday 20 September 2014) and are a criminal offence. The full list of prohibited activities is set out insection 197 of the Electoral Act which effectively prohibits anything that can be said to interfere with or influence voters, including processions, speeches or public statements.

Summary of the rules for candidates, parties and third parties

On election day you must not:

  • Display any hoardings – all election signs must be taken down or covered up before election day.
  • Display any other election advertising – cover up or place away from public view vehicles advertising parties or candidates (this includes flags and bumper stickers).
  • Distribute any campaign material.
  • Distribute or display anything showing political party or candidate names.
  • Post election-related material online. This includes election-related posts on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. 
  • Take part in any election-related demonstration or procession.
  • Wear or display clothing that promotes a political party or candidate.
  • Conduct opinion polling of voters.

In relation to websites and social media:

Social media on election day

There are additional restrictions on election day.  On election day (from midnight on 19 September until 7pm on 20 September) there is a general prohibition of the publication of any statement that is likely to influence which candidate or party a person should, or should not, vote for. 

Election advertising does not have to be removed from social media so long as:

  • the material was published before election day
  • the material is only made available to people who voluntarily access it, and
  • no advertisements promoting the page or site are published on election day.  

If you use social media, do not post messages on election day that could breach these rules.  The Commission recommends candidates and parties temporarily deactivate their Facebook campaign pages to avoid the risk of supporters committing an offence by posting on your page.  For other forms of social media where others can post comments the Commission recommends that where possible security settings are changed so that other people cannot post messages before 7pm on election day. 

Posts on social media that are not connected in any way with the election can of course be posted on election day.

So as long as you post something prior to midnight on election eve it’s fine, even if it is prominently displayed during election day. But you supposedly can’t post anything on election day.

While most of the Electoral Commission advice relates to parties and candidates “a general prohibition of the publication of any statement that is likely to influence which candidate or party a person should, or should not, vote for” implies that these gagging rules apply to everyone.

To an extent this is understandable, if individuals were allowed to promote party and candidate voting then parties would find ways to sneak around the rules.

But when an increasingly large proportion of people vote while campaigning is in full swing this seems anachronistic.

I wasn’t going to tell you who you should vote for anyway. Just make an effort to vote if you are inclined towards voting.

Coalition possibilities many and varied

The polls show that the election is up for grabs with a number of coalition possibilities, depending on the final vote of course.

Tracey Watkins summarises the state of play at Stuff and details Possible coalition line-ups after election.

National’s options:

❏ National in coalition with NZ First.

Key’s preference would be to have Winston Peters on one side of him and allies including ACT, UnitedFuture and the Maori Party on the other to give himself options to move to either the Left or Right. But Peters is jealous of his rivals and might make it a condition that the others be kept out in the cold. Key has made it clear the deputy prime ministership would be on the table, but Peters’ previous record as foreign affairs minister would make that an obvious job. Senior Nats have also mused about the Speakership but Peters has so far rubbished that. National would have to make some concessions on foreign investment but could probably live with modest tinkering. Peters has also put tackling exports, immigration, poverty and unemployment on his shopping list. A key sticking point might be tax cuts – National has promised them in its third term, Peters say they are unaffordable.

❏ National in coalition with Colin Craig’s Conservatives.

National’s preference would be a deal in which the Conservatives offer confidence and supply but don’t receive any ministerial portfolios. Craig has previously suggested this would be his preference as well, but a rush of blood to the head once the corridors of power are opened to him could see the Conservative Party leader attempt to drive a harder bargain. If forced to rely on Craig Key’s preference would be to keep his distance – meaning he might try to strike a deal with Peters as well. Craig has made binding referendums a bottom line of his support but has left the door open for a way around that by allowing for a financial veto.

❏ National and the Greens.

The Greens and Key have all but ruled this out  – but after a mad election campaign anything is possible. If the Greens were able to wring significant concessions and pivotal portfolios out of National would they cross the line? Unlikely, maybe even impossible – but never say never.

In 2011 National got 47.31% of the vote and were able to make a majority with two seats from ACT and UnitedFuture. A repeat is a possibility  but it would be a little surprising if National equalled or surpassed their record high of last election.

Labour’s options.

❏ Labour and the Greens.

On current polling Labour is too weak to make this option viable. If it got across the line the Greens would want significant concessions and key portfolios including finance. Cunliffe has ruled that out but would have to concede economic development or similar. New Zealand might also see its first co-deputy prime ministership.

Labour and the Greens are promising sweeping reforms on everything from taxes, to the way the Reserve Bank operates, regulating the housing markets, a massive programme to build affordable houses and more interventionist policies to encourage the growth of a smart, green economy. A capital gains tax to rein in the housing market, raising the pension age and universal KiwiSaver all signal a big shift away from the status quo.

❏ Labour, the Greens and NZ First.

The last time Labour was in government with NZ First the Greens were locked out of any power sharing deal at Peters’ insistence. They are much too strong to allow that to happen this time round and Peters’ rhetoric around the Greens has mellowed in recent times in recognition of that reality. On policy, this grouping seems reasonably compatible – they are in sync on issues including foreign investment and monetary policy, but Peters would refuse to deal unless Labour scrapped its plan to raise the age of eligibility for superannuation.

❏ Labour, the Greens, NZ First and Internet-Mana.

If Hone Harawira holds his Te Tai Tokerau seat Labour may not have the numbers to govern without the Internet-Mana Party to get it over the line. Cunliffe has stressed that he has no intention of doing a coalition deal with IMP but is banking on having the minor party’s votes all the same. He is banking that it will have nowhere else to go since it is unlikely Harawira would ever back a National government.

Voter’s options: many and varied – if you haven’t voted you can help make something happen.

Final pre-election poll results

All five polls have been published in the final week of the election campaign.

No polling period given, poll date 17 September

  • National 47.7% (-5.1)
  • Labour 26.1% (+3.7))
  • Greens 12.0% (-1.0)
  • New Zealand First 6.6% (+2.2)
  • Conservative Party 4.5% (+0.9)
  • Maori Party 1.0% (+0.7)
  • Internet-Mana Party 0.9% (-0.5)
  • Act NZ 0.3% (-0.4)
  • United Future 0 (no change)

Poll results and poll report: Tight race ahead for Key and Cunliffe

Our poll provides a maximum sampling error of +/-3.1%-point, at the 95% confidence level. This means we can be 95% confident that the survey results are within 3.1% of the result had we surveyed the entire population of the NZ population, when the analysis is based on all respondents surveyed.

One News/Colmar Brunton
13-17 September

  • National 45.1% (-1)
  • Labour 25.2% no change)
  • Greens 12.5% (-2)
  • New Zealand First 8.1% (+1)
  • Conservative Party 4.4% (+0.4)
  • Maori Party 1.6% (+0.8)
  • Internet-Mana Party 1.8% (+0.4)
  • Act NZ 0.6%
  • United Future 0

Summary and Detailed Report (PDF)

The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level. This is the sampling error for a result around 50%. Results higher and lower than 50% have a smaller sampling error. For example, results around 10% and 5% have sampling errors of approximately ±1.9% points and ±1.4% points respectively, at the 95% confidence level.

NZ Herald/Digipoll
11-17 September

  • National 48.2% (-0.4)
  • Labour 25.9% (+1.3)
  • Green 11.1% (-0.4)
  • NZ First 8.4% (+0.3)
  • Conservatives 3.3% (-0.5)
  • Internet-Mana 1.0% (-1.3)
  • Maori 1.1% (+0.4)
  • ACT 0.5% (+0.2)
  • UnitedFuture O.2% (+0.2)

Pre-poll report: DigiPoll: Conservatives fail to make 5 per cent threshold – again

Poll report: Moment of Truth gifts Team Key a late bounce in polls

The poll of 775 eligible voters was conducted between September 11 – 17 The Party Vote is of decided voters only. Undecided voters were 5.6 per cent. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 per cent.

“The Moment of truth” split:

The Kim Dotcom-inspired event in Auckland’s Town Hall that was supposed to end John Key’s career gave the National Party an immediate bounce in support this week, according to polling for the last Herald DigiPoll survey.

With 60 per cent of the poll done by Monday night, when the event happened, National was polling at 47.8 per cent, down on last week, said DigiPoll general manager Nandan Modak. From Tuesday it jumped to 49.1 per cent.

3 News/Reid Research
September 9-15

  • National 44.5% (-2.2)
  • Labour 25.6% (-0.5)
  • Greens 14.4% (+1.4)
  • New Zealand First 7.1% (+1.2)
  • Conservative Party 4.9% (+0.2)
  • Maori Party 1.1% (-0.2)
  • Internet-Mana Party 2.0% (0.3)
  • Act NZ 0.1% (-0.2)
  • United Future 0.1%

Report: Poll: Winston holds balance of power
(it’s far to close to call specific outcomes with Conservatives on 4.9% which is teetering either way)

Poll of 1000 voters was taken between September 9 and 15 with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. 

Result table:

Roy Morgan:
September 1-14

  • National 46.5% (+1.5)
  • Labour 24.0% (-2.0)
  • Greens 13.5% (-2.5)
  • New Zealand First 8.0% (+2.0)
  • Conservative Party 3.5% (no change)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (+ 1.0)
  • Internet-Mana Party 1.0% (no change)
  • Act NZ 0.5% (-0.5)
  • United Future 0.5% (+0.5)
  • Independent/ Others 1.0% (no change)

Roy Morgan rounds to the nearest 0.5%

Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your party vote?” This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 935 electors from September 1-14, 2014. Of all electors surveyed 5% (up 1.5%) didn’t name a party.

D-Day versus Key-Day

Tonight Kim Dotcom will have his big time in his own spotlight, an event he calls “The Moment of Truth”. He is trying to place himself on the same pedestal as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden – they have one thing in common, they are all being sought by countries for extradition and prosecution, but beyond that Dotcom is an odd associate.

John Key has created a climate of doubt that it will be the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so media will not just be broadcasting the supposed revelations unchallenged, they will be looking for Key’s response. That was a smart play by Key who has had months to prepare for this.

Dotcom may have sidelined himself by bringing Glenn Grenwald to New Zealand to headline his show with supposed revelations that our GCSB has been undertaking mass surveillance on us.

Greenwald is usually labeled a journalist – and his Pulitzer prize is often mentioned – but he is also a side taking political activist. In his own words in a recent interview for Metro:

I’ve been very clear that I’m not neutral on the question of mass surveillance. It’s dangerous and I oppose it. I’m supportive of political parties around the world that have made it an important part of their platform to work against it, whether it be the Green Party in Europe or the Green Party here, or the Internet Party, or the Techno Pirate party in Sweden.

He has deliberately chosen to reveal what he claims during our election for “maximum impact”.

I think it’s entirely legitimate for a journalist to think about how to maximise public awareness of the reporting that you’re doing. And I knew that by physically travelling here, at this time, when the citizenry is most engaged politically, that would present an excellent opportunity to bring as much attention as possible to these matters.

That sounds more like political activism, and interference in a country’s democratic process.

Key has upped the ante prior to the show, putting his political credibility and probably his political future on the line. Andrea Vance reports at Stuff:

Greenwald says the Government hasn’t been truthful about the GCSB legislation, which passed into law in August 2013.

Key insists Greenwald is “absolutely wrong”.

“He said the GCSB is undertaking mass surveillance against New Zealanders. They are not. There is no ambiguity, no middle ground. I’m right, he’s wrong.”

He says he has documents, including a Cabinet paper, to back his claims. But he won’t release them until Greenwald reveals what he has. And he accused the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist of playing politics, by staging a “sound and light show” with Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom, just days before the election.

Greenwald will join Dotcom at a “Moment of Truth” event tonight in Auckland, where he is set to detail his claims about the GCSB.

Key claims the Snowden documents tell only half the story – that Cabinet signed off proposals for the GCSB to investigate “widespread cyber protection” in early 2012 after two “significant” cyber attacks on Kiwi companies.

But he says that after a year he stopped the work as an internal review unearthed a raft of problems at the agency.

Despite Key’s counter attack Greenwald remains staunch that what he doesn’t know won’t affect the impact of his accusations. He is backing is part of ‘the truth’ being enough truth.

Despite no other world leaders disputing Greenwald’s previous disclosures about other countries in the Five Eyes alliance, Key said: “He’s absolutely wrong . . . he’s releasing hacked information which is presenting a picture which is completely incomplete . . . what I can say to New Zealanders is do not believe them.”

Key looks to be well prepared. It’s not known yet how well prepared Greenwald is to have his allegations strongly challenged. He may have come here thinking New Zealand would be an easy hit after his efforts with the USA, UK, Canada and Australia.

We will have to see what Greenwald produces tonight, and then what Key counters with. Waiting for Key’s response will diffuse the impact of the show tonight.

Dotcom is also going to try and prove Key wrong, but his cases have been overshadowed by his big-noting with international anti-surveillance activists. Whether Key knew Dotcom before he has claimed, just prior to the Dotcom raid, seems relatively trivial.

Dotcom also wants to prove he was granted residency in New Zealand to make it easier for the US to extradite him supposedly at the request of Hollywood.

John Armstrong says that Dotcom’s credibility is also on the line in Dotcom’s last chance to shine.

It is delivery time for Kim Dotcom. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. He must deliver the irrefutable evidence that he has repeatedly promised to show that the Prime Minister has not told the truth.

Dotcom’s “moment of truth” must be a moment of proof. He must prove that the Prime Minister has not been straight with the public, firstly regarding exactly when he became aware of the Megaupload mogul and, secondly, that the intelligence agencies for which John Key has ministerial responsibility have conducted mass surveillance.

There can be no room for doubt. There can be no reliance on the circumstantial. There can be no shifting of goalposts by saying the fuss is all really about New Zealand spying on other countries.

If tonight exposes Dotcom as nothing more than a big-noting charlatan who has attempted to hijack the electoral system, then the public backlash could be withering.

Dishing the dirt on Key in the last week of the campaign may have seemed a clever move when the idea was first mooted within internet-Mana. It may yet be the the final humiliation for the parties of the left in an election campaign that has been turning into a disaster for them.

Key will also be prepared for this.

In founding and financing a political party Dotcom has a stated aim of bringing down Key and the National Government. This already looks like having backfired, with National looking reasonably strong and the Internet-Mana Party failing to attract substantial support.

It’s possible Dotcom will land a big hit on Key tonight, but it could as easily benefit Key and National more than it hurts them, especially if Dotcom’s fireworks are a fizzer.

This campaign circus will make it very difficult for an already failing Labour and other parties to get any worthwhile attention in the final days leading up to the election.

Some on the left are hoping Dotcom will rescue a desperate situation for them. They are betting the election on Greenwald’s cards and have already shown they are prepared to take Glenn’s gospel as the whole truth and the only truth. They are already convinced Key is a liar so will disregard anything he says as usual.

The election that has been taken over by international political activists and a German trying desperately to stay in New Zealand to avoid prosecution in the US.

But voters across the spectrum get to make the final judgement on Saturday. The final polls over the next couple of days may be less able than usual to predict what might happen, they will not reflect what comes out of tonight’s “moment of truth” and the ensuing counter truths and arguments.

Dotcom’s big day has arrived. Key looks confident and well prepared.

We will never get the full truth from either side, but the country will judge Dotcom and Greenwald (most Kiwis won’t have heard of him) versus one of New Zealand’s most popular Prime Ministers ever.

Today is D-Day. Saturday is Key-Day, one way or another.

Two weeks – what can happen now?

A lot can happen in the last two weeks of a campaign, and this election has more drama than Shortland Street, absent the soap (things are still dirty).

It has been common in the past for significant moves to happen late. This campaign has been different with the early injection of the ‘Dirty Politics’ book and ensuing distraction. Political integrity is important but dropping a left handed grenade into a campaign has had unexpected results with an apparent firm up of support for National and Labour slipping.

Kim Dotcom is promising more drama in the final week (his town hall meeting is scheduled for Monday 15) but that may be too late and could as easily help National’s chances as score a hit. A fear of a government dictated to by Internet-Mana could be the Right’s best chance of retaining power.

National seem to have recovered from Dirty Politics (according to polls) but dropped back in the final run up to the last election. It’s expected they will struggle to match last elections record high of 47.31% and will almost certainly need some help from multiple parties to make it again. Polling about double Labour still puts National in the box seat.

Labour don’t appear to have been helped by Dirty Politics and are slipping in the polls. David Cunliffe seems to be failing to impress and was flailing over Labour’s Capital Gains Tax this week. Can Labour areest their decline or will their vote collapse as it did for National in 2002? Not a good position for them.

Greens have had occasional high (16%) and low (9%) poll results but seem to have firmed support around 12%. They will be mindful of their past drops from the polls to their election result but are likely to be excluded from any dramatics so just need to stick to their fundamentals (which they are good at doing) to do at least reasonably well.

Unlike the last two elections when the outcome for NZ First was in serious doubt it seems like they are pretty much assured of remaining in Parliament, although Winston Peters is in a battle with Colin Craig this time which complicates things. There’s a bigger question over whether Peters will be ‘kingmaker’ or will have to make do with sitting on the cross benches again.

Conservatives are very well funded by Colin Craig and are much better prepared than last election. They are improving in polls but the big unknown (until election night) is whether they will make the 5% threshold. It could be a close run result for them – and the outcome of this could make a big difference to coalition options available to National.

Internet-Mana are also very well funded and the initially made promising poll gains but seem to have hit a brick wall. Kim Dotcom looms large over the party and is both biggest benefactor and biggest liability. His final week splash may dent John Key’s chances but it could also see Internet-Mana flounder. They were always relying on Hone Harawira to succeed but also need a few percent to get more than Laila Harre into Parliament. Unless they have a fresh new trick they may be a bit of a fizzer.

Maori Party could be the quiet achiever of this election. They had been written off by some but look in a good position to retain a seat or two at least. It’s also possible they could get a list seat or two for the first time. New leader Te Ururoa Flavell has been a refreshingly candid and natural performer in minor party debates. They could benefit from voters disappointed with Mana’s links with Dotcom.

ACT look to be struggling outside of Epsom. Unless they find a new formula and attract party vote interest they look like they could end up in the unusual position of having a seat in parliament but their leader missing out. They might come up with something but there’s no sign of it yet.

UnitedFuture is more than ever relying on Peter Dunne retaining Ohariu, which looks likely. Otherwise the party is failing to rate. They keep targeting outdoors, hunting and fishing voters but that has been a very unreliable constituency for them.

The other parties are written off before they start by media so have a hopeless task other than to pick up a handful of loyal votes and perhaps some protest votes for parties like Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and The Citizen Party.

Incumbent parties have a significant advantage and that’s helped by media picking and rejecting losers and giving likely winners a big help.

The main factors in the last two weeks:

  • National securing it’s position as a reliable financial administrator and scaring voters off the alternative – balanced against whether a Key/Ede or Dotcom bombshell could be damaging.
  • Labour trying not to collapse (it’s hard to see them suddenly becoming popular)
  • Will Conservatives make the threshold (and to a lesser extent will NZ First survive thew threshold).

Greens are the least tainted and best organised party holding firm but look like being wholly dependent on other parties, and their biggest hope, Labour, may have already decided Green’s fate.

And possibly the biggest factor is which voters will turn out to vote and which ones will give up in disinterest or disgust.


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