Why are so many party leaders resigning?

I don’t whether there are comparable times in the past, I can’t remember any, but we seem to have had a remarkably high turnover of party leaders this term.

Tracey Watkins: Politically Correct: The blitzkrieg campaign continues

Why are so many party leaders resigning?

Good question. Dunne’s departure leaves just Winston Peters and the Maori Party’s Te Ururoa Flavell standing from the 2014 election. In this term of Parliament National, ACT, Labour, the Greens and ACT have all had a change of leader.

Those party leaders who have stepped down this term:

  • David Cunliffe resigned as Labour leader on 27 September 2014, and left Parliament in April 2017.
  • Jamie Whyte stepped down as ACT leader in October 2014 after failing to get into Parliament.
  • Russel Norman announced he would stand down as Green co-leader in January 2015, and resigned from Parliament in October 2015.
  • John Key stepped down as National leader and Prime Minister in December 2016 and left Parliament in April 2017.
  • Andrew Little stepped down as Labour leader on 1 August 2017. He remains on Labour’s list for this election.
  • Metiria Turei resigned as Green co-leader on 9 August 2017, and also withdrew from the party list. She is still standing in the Te Tai Tonga electorate but her chances of returning to Parliament look slim.
  • Peter Dunne announced on 21 August 2017 he would not stand in the September election, retiring as a 33 year MP and United Future leader.

Leaders of five parliamentary parties have had leaders step down during this term. In addition:

  • Marama Fox became co-leader of the Maori Party in October 2014 after she became an MP through the party list.
  • Laila Harre stepped down as leader of the Internet Party in December 2014.
  • Colin Craig stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party in June 2015.

The remaining party leaders:

  • Winston Peters (NZ First)
  • Hone Harawira (Mana Party)

NZ First changed deputy leaders during the term, as did National and Labour.

This is a massive turnover of leadership. Why?

Dunne says he has not seen a more turbulent period in New Zealand politics since the Muldoon years. It all adds up to a volatile election and a sense that change is in the air.

And as Dunne also says: “No-one wants to outstay their welcome”.

Norman, Key and Dunne decided it was time to end their political careers.

Little and Turei were more pressured by circumstances.

And this may not be the end of leader churn.

If National lose the election it’s hard to see Bill English staying on.

If Hone Harawira loses again this election his political career must be just about over.

Winston Peters must be getting close to the stage of retiring, whether NZ First get into government or not.

This to an extent is coincidence of timing. Last term Labour changed leader twice, and ACT got a new leader, but otherwise parties were relatively stable.


Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  22nd August 2017

    I have never seen anything like it but unlike in other countries the underlying policies remain totally unchanged, its like wanting something new but the lets keep going the way we are as NZ is pretty awesome.
    Corbyn, Trump, Sanders, Macron etc etc all wanting to turn accepted policies on their heads, Jacinda just wants a few more small taxes and some environmental virtue signalling to poach Green votes.

  2. Corky

     /  22nd August 2017

    No guesses why National has been so successful. It’s because of stability.

    I think Paula will start doing the numbers post election debates once it becomes obvious if Bill has a chance, or not, against Jacinda.

    The problems for National will start should they win the election…which will probably be by a handful of votes. Bill will have to be knifed while they are on the road. Should he and Joyce leave politics National will be no better than Labour talent wise.

    Best National check into Heartbreak Hotel for three years. Do a little knifing; enjoy plenty of R&R and observe the Jacinda effect wane as dumb New Zealanders wake up.

    • Blazer

       /  22nd August 2017

      give it up….the Blimps star is fading…..fast…’I never deliberately…..’

      • Corky

         /  22nd August 2017

        Not if she checks into Jenny Graig.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  22nd August 2017

          The blimp is an extremely offensive word to use of anyone-I suppose that it was intended to be-and says more about the user than it does about the person about whom it’s said.

  3. duperez

     /  22nd August 2017

    Some main reasons there are more leaders resigning are that there are more leaders of more parties, political structures are ever evolving and the history of MMP is not long.

    Oldsters may remember the 1950s and 60s with National, Labour and Social Credit candidates standing in all electorates and hardly any other candidates at all.

    The nature of the beast is totally different anyway than in days gone by because of seismic changes in media technology. Dramatic societal changes to and for people and the way they behave means an inevitable impact on the way people are in and out of the political facets of our communities. The consumer society in action.

    The real certainty is that the beast will keep changing with the likelihood of the nature of that being less and less predictable.

  4. Pickled Possum

     /  22nd August 2017

    Really pete … Metiria standing in Te Tai Tokerau!!! First I heard.
    Could you possibly mean Te Tai Tonga???

    IMO departing mp’s are like rats leaving their sinking ships.

    Winston will go after this election, old age an bad health …. with Shane Jones aka prodigal son, trying to take over and failing badly.
    We don’t need any more wankas up here to speak for us.

    Kelvin is picked to win pity bout his parti loyalty.
    Hone can just stay where he is … doing good for his own people

    National fella Matt will have the support of the usual suspects but is seen as very lite weight.

  5. Patzcuaro

     /  22nd August 2017

    An adaptation from Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”

    ” To lose one leader may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose six looks like carelessness.”

    Can a one MP party actually have a leader? If we take out Whyte and Dunne that leaves 4. The Greens have been particularly careless as they have lost 2 but to be fair they started with an extra one.

    Of the multi MP parties only NZ First and the Maori Party have the same leader for this election as the last.

  6. I see that ALCP has 2 new Co-Leaders; Maki Herbert & Jeff Lye, BUT it doesn’t look like they will get over 5% ?? :/

    • PDB

       /  22nd August 2017

      Joint leaders apparently?

    • Pickled Possum

       /  22nd August 2017

      Yep Zedd Maki Herbert has a future vision for TTT … its about growing our way out of unemployment and getting away from bad health decisions ie being responsible for our own health and not to blindly follow the chemickal cocktails that big pharma swear will cure whateva ails you.

      It’s about Medical Cannabis for Maki.
      Butt will she get over the 5%???
      and will most not vote for her becos its not the done strategy?
      like keeping Wiley Winston in to keep Matt and the rest out … most in the poorer parts of TTT don’t want more of the same b.s. that is …. “bridges!!”
      we will give you more when you vote for us …kind of thing.

      Highways to heaven and Whangarei being built … to get the tourist dollar here faster? FFS
      We need some concret pills to harden us up …. up in the Fartherest North.

      Meanwhile FNDC rob the TTT rate payers blind. Ie Northland Inc giving 1.5 Million to Whangarei for the Hundertwasser extravagonzo.

      I’m only Human after All
      Don’t put the blame on me.

  7. duperez

     /  22nd August 2017

    So many on Kiwiblog who were pleased to have Dunne propping them up in Parliament now putting the boot in as he gets down the road. Dogs turning dog I guess.

    He’s termed on there (and elsewhere), a political whore. He may have been but they blithely screwed him, had their way with him so they could have their way with the electorate.

  8. robertguyton

     /  22nd August 2017

    Only ethical thing he ever did 🙂

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