All the signs point to the re-election of a centre-right coalition. The perception is a switch to centre-left policies at this point could be dislocating, and probably not affordable.
Archive for November, 2011
National has ploughed through the last 4 weeks relying on John Key’s political “pied piper” personality as the fulcrum of its campaign. The party has drawn on the political capital it has built up in earning the trust of voters.
There’s one big problem – a monumental lack of trust. There’s also the matter of the Green’s implacable opposition to many of National’s policies. But in politics, never underestimatethe potential for enemies to get along when they need to.
Labour leader Phil Goff has been asked whether he’ll “do a Helen” and step down on election night, and he won’t answer. He can’t, because if he did it would look as though he’s contemplating the possibility of defeat – which he knows is coming but he can’t say.
A so-called photo opportunity with John Key and John Banks yielded unintended consequences, when a tape of the dialogue surfaced. Suddenly the focus of the election campaign shifted from the major issue of NZ’s economic prospects to one of leadership.
Potential for surprises on election night can’t be ruled out. Can ACT survive as a political force? Will the Maori Party succeed in repelling the challenges from Labour and Mana? Is Winston Peters ready to rise Lazarus-like from the political graveyard? That’s just for starters.
Two recent OECD studies puncture the populist mythology NZ is falling further and further behind in all the OECD league tables. In one of those studies, the Business Confidence indicator rates NZ among the highest of OECD economies.
While Green leader Norman Russell’s swift apology for the billboard saga made him look responsible, the act of vandalism may have killed off the chance for the Greens to work more closely with National, if a Key-led coalition were to be formed after the election.
National insiders have been talking it down the party’s poll dominance. The campaign, they say, is entering a messy phase where those voters who dislike the prospect of a one-party Govt begin to consider whether they swing their votes elsewhere.
Without any plan to grow NZ’s output, and indeed limiting the expansion of industries such as mining, Labour looks like the emperor without any clothes when it accuses National of “muddling through.”
Its sitting MPs are battling Hone Harawira’s Mana Party on one side, and Labour on the other. Trans Tasman says it may be flying below the radar of both the polls and the commentariat.
Labour is playing high-risk politics with its attacks on John Key’s leadership. Goff ’s problem is his own popularity rating is abysmal compared with Key’s and his attempt to bring him down could backfire if voters think it looks like a desperate measure.
Labour chose bold policy initiatives – the retirement age, a capital gains tax, and compulsory KiwiSaver – to put some ginger into its electioneering. But its obsession with trying to depict Key as a flake shows it hasn’t learnt anything from its strategic mistakes in 2008.
Labour’s hopes of the centre-left parties heading off the centre-right are pinned first on ACT imploding, and on NZ First passing the 5% threshold, plus Hone Harawira carrying a couple of his colleagues into Parliament. It’s all a bit of a stretch.
Going under the radar of the country’s mainstream media, some intriguing electorate battles are under way. Both National and Labour are pouring resources into marginal seats.
Survey shows the business community does not believe the Key Govt has a co-ordinated plan to raise NZ’s economic performance. So how will they respond when they get their chance to vote – for a Govt whose plan mystifies them, or for an opposition with plans which discomfort them?