The New Politics Of NZ – National Wins 46%
“New Zealand politics seldom grabs international attention. That changed six weeks ago when Jacinda Ardern, the 37-year-old female deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, was gifted the party leadership and a mission to lift its vote share,” writes Dr. Jennifer Curtin in an article for Forbes.
“Within a week of taking over, Ardern rejuvenated Labour’s membership and its campaign coffers began to fill” and “opinion polls showed a surge in support for Labour and for Ardern as preferred prime minister.”
Reasons for the support for change in New Zealand – a country that came through the Global Financial Crisis relatively unscathed, and is experiencing solid economic growth are complex, writes Curtin.
“To simplify there seemed to be a sense that the National government’s fiscal prudence and retaining a surplus at any cost, was proving too high a price for many,” she writes.
“Socially, there were also signs that all was not well with New Zealand. Comparatively speaking, New Zealand’s rates of family and domestic violence and child poverty are shocking, and pressures on the public health care system have led to some hospitals closing their doors to new patients.”
“In the lead-up to the 2014 election, inequality was a recurring theme in public discourse. But National’s record on economic management, and the leadership and likability of then Prime Minister John, secured National their third term.” When the Prime Ministership was passed from Key to former Finance Minister Bill English there was little damage to the party’s high levels of support. “Labour by contrast was underwhelming under former leader Andrew Little,” writes Curtin.
“Enter Jacinda Ardern, whose rhetoric of “relentless positivity” and authentic commitment to addressing poverty, gender inequality and environmental degradation gave voters a message of hope,” as reported in the article.
“Ultimately it was not enough. Some business leaders were unsure, others were wholly unconvinced” and National regained its lead in the polls one week out from the election.
“Almost immediately the New Zealand dollar surged, and National’s traditional voters turned out in droves. Although the results remain provisional, with more than 380,000 special votes (15% of the total) still to be counted, it is apparent that with 46% of the vote, National is in a strong position to form a government with support from the center-populist party, New Zealand First,” as reported in the article.
“This is not a hung parliament. This is a normal outcome produced by proportional representation. No party has won majority government in New Zealand since the adoption of the German-style system of MMP in 1996 and post-election negotiations are commonplace,” writes Curtin.
“It is not yet known who New Zealand First will support. What is known is that Jacinda Ardern made Labour competitive again. And National now knows that there is an appetite for more than business as usual.”
Article Source: Forbes, Dr. Jennifer Curtin, September 24, 2017
Image Source: Twitter – Bill English