A nine year Government?

Some people seem confident that we have the beginnings of another nine year Government. I presume this is based on the MMP record of two nine year Governments, one led by Helen Clark and Labour, the other led by John Key and Bill English and National.

That doesn’t automatically mean the pattern will be repeated. Many factors, some we know and many we don’t, will come into play with the current government.

It should be remembered that while Labour ‘won’ a second term easily in 2002 (National under English collapsed), but  Labour came very close to losing in 2005 after a controversial campaign.

And National got a second term reasonably comfortably they only just had the numbers to form a third term government. After the loss of the Northland by-election in the third term they relied on the support of all of ACT, NZ First and the Maori Party to complete the term.

What are the chances that Labour will lead Government until 2026? Of course it’s possible, but there will be many challenges.

Partner parties

It is generally accepted that governments lose elections. So much will depend on how Labour performs, and importantly, how NZ First and the Greens perform.

There’s a real chance that NZ First could miss the threshold, they are currently polling under it. There’s also the big question about whether Winston Peters will keep leadingh the party or not, and if he doesn’t who will replace him.

The Greens have their own challenges. They just survived a threshold scare in last year’s election. They have already annoyed some voters for u-turning in some policies to prop up Labour-NZ First. And they have a leadership contest to deal with over the next few months.

While Labour might still be prominent at the next two elections there are big question marks over their partner parties.

The economy

It is also accepted that a sound or booming economy makes it less likely a governing part will be replaced. The economy is currently in very good shape after a solid recovery from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. This means the current government has money available to fulfil some of their promises at least – for now.

The odds are that in the five or so years before the next two elections the world economy will turn to custard, as periodically happens. This will impact on New Zealand and the Government.

Labour last governed for nine years through boom times, apart from the Dot Com crash early on, with the GFC right at the end of their third term. National started with major financial challenges but gradually improved things throughout their term.

The odds must be that the economy will hiccup some time within the next eight and a half years.

Jacinda Ardern

Ardern is the Government’s biggest asset, along with the adulating media. The challenges of leading the country will be enough on their own to put pressure on Ardern continuing at the top, but this is complicated somewhat by her pregnancy.

Ardern may well deal with giving birth and becoming a mother with the aplomb she has shown since becoming leader. Many women transition to motherhood with ease and  manage to continue in their careers.

But having a first child is life changing for mothers, to varying degrees. Ardern my manage fine for a while, but at some stage may choose to put family first.

She will be under huge pressure due to the media and public attention being given to her pregnancy, and that is likely to increase once she has a baby.

If Ardern steps down at some stage Labour may continue leading the government seamlessly under a new leader, but that could also break a bubble of positive support.


National not only have to rebuild, they also need to choose a new leader. It will be some time before we see how this pans out.

If the economy goes well and Ardern does well and Labour doesn’t stuff up too much and the coalition and support party partners hold together, then National may have to twiddle their fingers waiting for their turn.

If the current Government hiccups then National will need to look ready to step in again.

How National manages the transition to a new generation leadership will matter. It’s obviously too soon to tell.

The unpredictable

There is a lot that’s unpredictable, as well as Ardern’s situation.

Will Peters resign? Will his health hold out? He will be 75 years old in 2020 when the second term election is due, and 78 years old when the 2023 third term election is due.

Any number of current MPs could resign – or lose their seats in 2020.  There are new MPs this term that may become leadership contenders next term.

There is far too much that’s unpredictable to have any idea whether Labour will lead a one term, two term, three term or four term government. And it’s even more unpredictable whether NZ First or Greens will last the distance with them.

How long the current government will last is purely guesswork, and a stab in the dark at that.

Those who assume a three term government with the same party composition are wishful thinkers. There is nothing of substance to support or guarantee a nine year claim.

Leave a comment


  1. Kitty Catkin

     /  14th February 2018

    The new generation thing sounds all right, but we also need experience.

    The idea of 9 years with Jacinda Ardern is so awful that I don’t even want to think about it.

  2. robertguyton

     /  14th February 2018

    9 years, easy. Then we’ll talk…

  3. Blazer

     /  14th February 2018

    stupid speculation…talk about getting ahead of…yourself.

    • Zedd

       /  14th February 2018

      tautoko Blazer

      Whilst they often say ‘rarely does a Govt. get only one term’ ?
      nothing is certain in NZ

      Listening to some staunch tories on ZB talkback.. this Govt. wont last through 2018..
      one old woman is still adamant that Natl won the election, “they won most seats”.. (she does not get MMP) even though they obviously ARE in opposition/not in Govt. 😀

  4. David

     /  14th February 2018

    A lot depends on Arderns biology, her cabinet is probably the least prepared and sooner or later the media will actually have to do their job and the country will tire very quickly of PM Peters….she better not take more than her 6 weeks off.
    Twyford seems no closer to actually having any plans to actually start building a house, Shane Jones hasnt planted a tree, Hipkins is causing all sorts of problems trying to close Charter schools and they are back flipping, medical dope is still illegal, the TPP text will come out and under it the threshold for OIO approval will double, Kermedecs still isnt a sanctuary, permits for foreign workers are still flying through so without Jacinda you arnt really left with much reason to vote Labour and absolutely no reason to vote NZ First at all ever again for half his supporters.

  5. What’s interesting is the incompetency of the Government within the House. Now I know that not everybody, in fact very few, watch parliament, but the Press Gallery report on it and they’re settling into a caricature of the ham-fisted group they were on Day One.

    Ardern looks very average in the House, as she always has. When you see a shot of her you see Winston, looking ever grimmer and bitter by the day. When he’s not smirking, he’s jumping up with quite inane points of order.

    If the coalition doesn’t start to look competent and act like they’re in charge, that’ll undo them. They need to perform and get results. As Ardern says, she’ll by judged on achievements. Spin will only take them so far.

    • Gezza

       /  14th February 2018

      Labour members seem to have been given a directive to say “the government is aspirational for New Zealand (or New Zealanders)” in answer to any question that is causing them difficulty or embarrassment. What was National’s equivalent?

    • robertguyton

       /  15th February 2018

      Jacinda is excellent in the House and is getting better and better with each passing day, as are her team; learning by experience. In 9 years time, they’ll be formidable and the Opposition, wizened by years of inexperience.

  6. Ray

     /  15th February 2018

    What those talking about 9 years of government seem to have forgotten, in that seamless way lefties have of rewriting history, is that they govern as a gift from Winston Peters.
    Does Winston have 9 years left?
    And how likely and hard is he going to bargain if he only has one option?

  7. robertguyton

     /  15th February 2018

    The Labour/Green/NZFirst Government is a gift…from the people of New Zealand.
    Too few voted for the other side, therefore, the Right is on the outside of the tent.


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