It’s just under six months until the election due on 23 September, but that’s still a long time in politics. At least as much as ever this election is up for grabs, there is no clear idea of what the outcome will be.
National will be hoping to keep it’s support high enough so that along with it’s current coalition partners ACT, United Future and the Maori Party it can sneak back in.
Labour and Greens are trying hard to become competitive as a duet, but that hasn’t gained traction yet going by the polls.
Media always seem to predict that New Zealand First will be in a ‘king making’ position and they may be right this time, it currently seems to be the most likely outcome – uncertainty of which way Winston will swing.
When John Key stepped down late last year and Bill English took over as Prime Minister doubts increased substantially that National could hold their support for an unprecedented fourth election. Those doubts remain at this stage.
English has had a mixed start as PM. He has a reputation for being steady and reliable, but as leader he has had some missteps and he is not charismatic.
Media appeal should not be a deciding factor in who can run the country the best, but the media insist on making something out of it for their own benefit. So it can dominate what most voters see.
English has one thing in his favour – Andrew Little, who is no more charismatic than English. Actually it goes further than that – New Zealand politics in general has a lack of charisma.
National has to try and battle the growing perception of problems like crime and poverty, and the housing situation continues to pose problems (but many voters have had significant increases in their property values so may not mind).
National has done a good job again of turning over MPs, their regeneration has been effective. The biggest turn over this time is Key, and perhaps key.
National’s biggest asset is the economy, which apart from housing and despite a dairy dip is still looking very healthy.
So National’s fate may come down to whether the economy decides the election or whether opposing parties can get enough traction on other issues.
But they will also be dependent on what happens to their current support parties, and that is a big unknown at this stage.