If National maintain current polling and both the Conservatives and New Zealand First get to five percent, Key will be in the catbird seat. But which might he choose and why?

With two weeks to go until election day, it looks highly likely that John Key will be Prime Minister until 2017. The idea that Labour on around 25% could lead a government is improbable. And it's now hard to imagine anything that Kim Dotcom could disclose that will change the voters' minds. The voters are making their decisions on the basis of their experience of living with a National government over the last six years, not on anything that Dotcom may say on the 15h.

There are of course those on the Left who say there are hundreds of thousands of voters who only have cell phones and who are itching to get to the polls and vote out the most evil and corrupt government in New Zealand history. I guess we will know on Saturday the 20th.

But if this does not come to pass and it is John Key returned, then it is time to speculate on coalition partners, especially if the Nats don’t quite get to 50%. That means the Conservatives and New Zealand First are both options as coalition partners (the minnows of ACT and UF already being taken into account).

What if they both get more than 5% of the party vote? After all, if only Winston gets there this discussion is rather moot.

In the case of both the Conservatives and NZ First getting 5%, John Key is faced with a tricky choice. It will turn on both policy and personality.

Taking personality first. With Winston, there is history, and there is bad blood. The coalition of 1996 to 1998 did not work out well, but that is nearly 20 years ago. There is also 2008 and the Owen Glenn donation (disclaimer here, I was on the Privileges Committee at the time). That directly led to Winston going out of parliament for three years. But since 2011 we have seen a more temperate Winston in the House. He is aware of the need for a legacy, and the Nats know that.

In contrast we have the somewhat hubristic Colin Craig. One of the reasons the Nats would not deal with him over East Coast Bays was his completely unreasonable demand that the Nats remove Murray McCully from the ballot paper. Imagine what Colin might be like if he gets 5%. It is all too likely to result in a rush of blood of blood to the head.

So no easy deal there.

On policy there is an interesting contrast. In many respects the Conservatives, at least in respect of economic policy, sound like ACT with some populism thrown in. Coupled with Colins' conservative social policy, the Nats will worry that giving away very much to the Conservatives would simply blow up the Nats. And make a fourth term an absolute impossibility.

In contrast Winston tends to be a bit of poodle on policy, his pre-election statements notwithstanding. And the reason is because at heart he is a traditional Nat.

The things that Winston really wants are able to be accommodated by a pragmatic Prime Minister, who might in any event be tempted to claim the credit for them as they are implemented. They will, after all, be quite popular initiatives, and could soften National’s somewhat flinty image. That sets up a fourth term quite nicely.

So much of this turns on legacy issues. Does Winston want to go down as someone who made an enduring difference to New Zealand and whose party has continuity beyond his leadership? Does this imply that Shane Jones could come back into Parliament in 2017 as the putative next leader of New Zealand First? In many ways Shane is naturally aligned to the political ethos of NZF.

I suspect that much will depend on the style of the entreaties, both public and private, that Colin and Winston make in the first few days after the election.

Key would be in the catbird seat. But the question of the prospects of a fourth term will weigh heavily on him. And it may be that, rather than any immediate political calculation, that will determine John Key’s choice.

Comments (34)

by Nick Gibbs on September 06, 2014
Nick Gibbs

1998 didn't work out, nor did 2008. And while Winston looks more temperate he still can't give a straight answer to a straight question. 

Craig wanted McCully out of the race because he couldn't win with him in it. It wasn't hubris but realism.

Beyond that if JK wants a fourth term then he has to consider politics sans Winston. Will Shane Jones return to the beehive? No guarantees there. Giving the Conservatives a place at the table now likely ensures they will be in 2017.

Winston Peters is a liability with only a term to go. Colin Craig might be a liability, but is also a potential long term partner.

 

 



by Jane Beezle on September 06, 2014
Jane Beezle

Wayne -

Again, this is a highly politicised piece of "commentary" with a pro-National and anti-Labour bias that is not at all disguised.  You are doing more than dog whistling.

My hope is that as a Law Commissioner you might, at least while in office, try to maintain some semblance of impartiality - particularly during the lead up to an election.

Otherwise you live out a poor legacy - that is, a party political appointment, to what many lawyers would otherwise hope is a neutral and impartial office that is supposed to play an important role in our government.

 
by David Farrar on September 06, 2014
David Farrar

My pick is that the PM would do deals with both Conservatives and NZ First, even if he only needs one of them.

by Wayne Mapp on September 06, 2014
Wayne Mapp

Jane, 

I see my role on Pundit as something of a counterpoint to Josie Pagani, to stimulate debate on the Pundit site generally. That is sort of the basis I got involved.

Yes, I do have a view, but I like to think I express my views in a moderate and considered way. The only observation about Labour was the difficulty they would have in forming a government on the basis of being in the mid 20's on election night,

Obviously in this item, my comments relate to an election night result not being hugely different to the polls, with the Nats getting not less than 45%.

And I don't really comment on specific policy, for the very reasons you state.

I would also note that two items ago I was speculating on what it might take for the Greens to become the major party on the Left, and able to lead a centre-left govt in either 2017 or 2020. Not something that a died in the wool partisan would do.

I can assure you I take a professional approach to my Law Commission role. You and others have a right to expect that. And I beleive I have sufficient awareness of how to do that.

by Katharine Moody on September 06, 2014
Katharine Moody

Oh David, you jest surely? Or perhaps you are not the real David Farrar. The PM might contemplate it - but Winston is going for the juggular .. and not just Colin's :-). The suggestion is absolutely, totally laughable.

by Katharine Moody on September 06, 2014
Katharine Moody

Wayne, I accept the question put in the proposition to be okay - but I do think this line:

And it's now hard to imagine anything that Kim Dotcom could disclose that will change the voters' minds.

Was particularly unwise considering your Law Commission role. Sounds like you are saying that if Dotcom produces incontrovertable evidence that the PM lied about matters relating to his Ministerial portfolio (national security), then NZers should accept that as acceptable.

At least that's how I interpreted that statement of yours.

by william blake on September 06, 2014
william blake

The polls are +10% in favour of National over the past six elections. The dirty politics Hager saga may not stop blue voting blue but you can bet every leftie will be at the polls this election. This may all be academic.

by Wayne Mapp on September 06, 2014
Wayne Mapp

Katherine,

My statement about the Kim Dotcom disclosure is in part based on the impact of Dirty Politics, which in poll terms seems minor. It seems to me that voters have made up their minds about the issues that have come out iof Dirty Politics in terms of their vote. And they seem to assessing the situation on their actual experience of 6 years of a John Key led administration.

So even you if you are correct about the upcoming revelations, I don't think that is now going to change the decisions the voters have apparently made (at least going by the polls). So my comments were simply about voter behaviour.

I might be wrong; we will see what happens after the 16th.

I might note that I had never heard of Kim Dotcom until the raid was in the news, even though I had been invited to dinner at a friends place directly across the road from the mansion. Our hosts referred to some flambouyant german entreprenuer who had recently shifted in. It was a few weeks before it occurred to me that Kim Dotcom and the entreprenuer were one and the same person.

 

by Andrew Geddis on September 06, 2014
Andrew Geddis

@Jane and Katherine,

I'm not sure you understand what the Law Commission actually is and does.

The Law Commission’s role is to promote the systematic review, reform and development of the law of New Zealand.  As an independent Crown Entity, its functions are to review the law and make recommendations for improvement.  Additionally, the Law Commission advises the Minister and government agencies on ways in which the law of New Zealand can be made as understandable and accessible as is practicable.  The Commission has a commitment to consult the public on areas of law that are being reviewed.  It promotes discussion and consultation through its issues papers series, and invites submissions from the public prior to making its recommendations for law reform to the Minister.  These recommendations are published in its report series, and the government then decides what future amendments are to be made to the law.

There's absolutely nothing about this role that stops Wayne from expressing his opinions as to how the present election might turn out, or even his hopes for what the result may be. And as Wayne was a National Party Cabinet Minister, it's hardly going to be a shock that he's hoping for a blue win come September. Just as the previous Chair of the Law Commission, one Sir Geoffrey Palmer, is no doubt hoping for a red win. It would be silly for either of them to pretend otherwise.

So as long as Wayne isn't saying things like "Kim Dotcom's role in this election is a compelling reason to overhaul our Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters laws", telling him he's not allowed to say things because he's a Law Commissioner is as silly as someone telling me that because I'm a University Professor I shouldn't be pimping for the Greens/Labour/Mana/ACT Party (or whatever party it is that I'm being accused of being in thrall to this week). And as tiresome.

by Katharine Moody on September 06, 2014
Katharine Moody

Wayne, perhaps you are not aware of exactly what the PM has said. John Armstorng explains it thus;

Key will stand or fall on the strength of Dotcom's case. The time has come for the country to hear it and appraise it. The time has come for Dotcom to cut the babble and prove Key is the one talking nonsense when he insists that until the eve of the police raid on Dotcom's Coatesville mansion he did not know of Dotcom, let alone that Dotcom was living in his Helensville electorate, or that Dotcom was the subject of a FBI investigation even though the intelligence agencies for which Key has ministerial responsibility had known for at least 15 months before the raid that was the case.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11295776

I think it's a bit different than Dirty Politics as the unanswered question there is about whether Key was or was not completely across Jason Ede's less than ethical access of Labour's website.

Whereas, the question on Dotcom is how could the PM not be completely across a joint-operation with another international security agency. And if he was, why lie about it after the fact and in Parliament. Bit different, I think.


by Andrew Geddis on September 06, 2014
Andrew Geddis

@Katharine,

I will bet you anything you want that Dotcom's "big reveal" on September 15 will not "prove" that Key lied "when he insists that until the eve of the police raid on Dotcom's Coatesville mansion he did not know of Dotcom". I strongly suspect that Wayne thinks this, too.

by tussock on September 06, 2014
tussock

The recent history of political polls in NZ is that they are strongly biased to National's favour (particularly the Herald's). It's widely believed to be due to polling via landline when those are less prevalent in low-income homes and shared accomidation.

The shift between the average of various company's polls in the leadup and what National actually get on the day is minus 4-5% and getting worse. You'll remember the 2011 general election various media breathlessly reporting National would govern alone on 52%, and then that didn't even come close to happening. Election day is not an outlier.

The Nats polling this time is 3% under last time's, and falling, so you can expect more like 43% as the final vote, give or take for rain, turnout, random calamities, young people noticing there's an election on, all sorts.

 

Most of that shift goes to the minor parties, particularly NZF, so the net left-right outcome is similar. Not polling retirement homes? Something like that. If Conservative get in on 5.5%, or miss out on 4.5%, that'll be huge. In and they take most of their 7 seats off NZF and National, enough to make it a 3-way. Out and the extra that lost vote goes to NZF and National to go in with about 63 seats just like 1996. Then the Nats can steal his MPs off him again, so maybe not.

by Andrew Geddis on September 06, 2014
Andrew Geddis

@Tussock,

There's been some interesting stuff on the issue of landlines/cell-phones written here. The question is, have polling companies managed to adjust their methodology sufficiently to counter any systemic problems with who they are surveying? Because if they have (i.e. they've managed to "fix" what went wrong in 2011), then we may not be able to assume that the polls this time around are as mistaken as the ones last time were.

(Note also - the polls in 2011 also overstated the final result for both Labour and the Greens, albeit not as much as for National!)

by Andrew Robertson on September 07, 2014
Andrew Robertson

@Tussock

I was actually quite impressed with how well some of the polls did in 2011.

I can't help but feel you're only paying attention to evidence that confirms your belief that polls are crap. For example, you're comparing the 2011 election result to the pre-election polling average. Some polls were worse than others, so the average was worse than the closest polls. And you're judging all firms by that average.

Sure, even the closest polls were out for National and NZ First. But you're holding polls to a standard they cannot possibly achieve, and are not designed to achieve either.

A 'good' poll can only ever measure voter sentiment at the time of the poll. They don't poll on Election Day (most interviews are carried out 5-6 days prior), and they can't predict what undecided voters will do. There is also sample variance. Given all of this, I think a few of the pollsters would have been pretty happy with their 2011 result. I know I was. 

Something else to note - polling data are flawed, and they always have been. Yes there a problems and there is bias. This is nothing new, and has not just come about in recent years due to increasing non-coverage. No pollster can get a representative sample of eligible voters. It’s simply not possible.

The pollster’s job, in my view, is to try to understand why they can’t, and to attempt to disentangle the signal from the noise. They can’t always get it right, but that’s the nature of measurement in a context where there are so many variables.

In reading your comments across multiple blogs, it's pretty clear you think I'm doing a crap job. Sorry, but I'm trying my best and my team is working incredible hard. If you want to engage openly and rationally on the subject, I'd be happy to.

by william blake on September 07, 2014
william blake

So the polls are wrong but they are right, but consistently in favour of the right. Is this mathematical or sociological?

by william blake on September 07, 2014
william blake

"Oh no, my lord, some parts of this poll are excellent"

by Jane Beezle on September 07, 2014
Jane Beezle

Wayne, Andrew -

I understand perfectly well what the Law Commission does - as well as either of you. 

Please don't cite Sir Geoffrey Palmer as evidence of good practice.   That was a very poor state of affairs and Wayne will know that many of his ex-colleagues thought so.  The practice of having Cabinet papers coming direct from the Law Commission was disposed of as quickly as possible and rightly so.

The fact is: many still believe in the value of neutrality of public officials.  A Law Commissioner should not engage in partisan political debate, especially in the sensitive pre-election period. 

As for your comment, Wayne, that the public should trust you to produce politically neutral Law Commission reports - I am sorry, but how can we?   Because you can't even show the good judgement to refrain from engaging in transparent pro-party comment in the weeks before an election.

The purpose, and value, of the Law Commission is to allow indepth, independent proposals for reform of the law.  Political appointments significantly dilute its mana.  Otherwise we may as well shut it down and leave the Commission's job to a government department. 

by Jane Beezle on September 07, 2014
Jane Beezle

This may serve as a salutary reminder of the damaging nature of the poor culture of political appointments that has developed in the past four or five parliamentary terms.

http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/business/qoa/48HansQ_20070510_00000659/10-law-commission—confidence-in-president

by Alan Johnstone on September 07, 2014
Alan Johnstone

Polling is generally very good, the whole landline / cellphone thing is overstated, weighting should take care of it.

What is important is turnout, the higher the turnout the better for the left. I don't think National is picking up support from Labour, I think traditional labour supporters are just staying at home.

The advance voting stats are interesting, it's running at much higher rates than before, i hear first hand accounts of huge turnout and large queues at the weekend.

http://www.elections.org.nz/events/2014-general-election/advance-voting-...

Worth taking a look at this on Monday afternoon for updated figures. If it maintains it's current trend it may point to something important

 

by Wayne Mapp on September 07, 2014
Wayne Mapp

Jane,

I have thought about your concern over the course of the day. 

I have always respected Sir Geoffery's role at the Law Commission. I did make the observation at the time the Supreme Court was established that he should not be appointed to the Supreme Court. I thought once he had chosen a life of politics, he could not make the transition to the judiciary.

But the Law Commission is not the same as a judicial role. It is a policy maker, or rather a policy advisor. Its independence means it is not governed by the same strictures as Ministry officials who have to work to the explicit direction of the Minister to implement government policy.

One of the "value adds" that people like myself, or Sir Geoffery, or Margaret Wilson bring to the role is our knowledge of politics. That helps the develoment of the Law Commissions reports. Everyone knows of our political orientation, and they don't expect us to change that. But we have to act professionally.

I think in particular the Law Commission greatly benefitted from having Sir Geoffery as the President. One of the outcomes has been a considerably higher rate of implementation of the Law Commissions reports, since he was first appointed, and that has continued. And in my view it was his political understanding that led to the higher rate of implentation of the reports.

So does contributing to Pundit change that?

In my contributions I endeavour not to advocate for any policy. I have chosen to be a commentator rather than an advocate (the one exception being TPP). I tend to take the facts as I find them, or as I think they are likely to be. I then bring my personal experience and insight to bear, such as for instance my knowledge of how the Prime Ministers office operates.

I will also speculate on the opportunities of, for instance the Greens, and what I think they would need to do to become the largest party on the centre-left and thus be able to lead a government.

As I noted above I think that is indicative of the level of detachment from partisan politics that my current role requires.

 

 

 

 

by Matthew Percival on September 07, 2014
Matthew Percival

@Alan there has been a lot more publicity this time around regarding the ability to vote earlier than election day. I wouldn't be making too many conclusions from advance voting statistics.

Furthermore in the last election I believe that 10 of the largest 12 electorates in terms of voter participation decline were safe National seats. That would suggest to me it was National voters staying at home and that an increased participation rate won't necessarily be good for the left.

by tussock on September 07, 2014
tussock

@Alan Johnston, advance voting no longer requires a stated reason for needing to, anyone can do it, so it's bound to be higher than previous. They are counted first on the night though, so it's always interesting to see which groups tend to vote early.

 

@Andrew Robertson. Thanks. I appreciate that the process is ludicrously involved and the polls themselves are much more solid than so much of the media commentary around them. I get that it's really hard to design a long series of questions that don't lead people, every time. Without that professional consistency and methodical application through the election cycle, any ability to see bias would be impossible.

But it's there and it's not new. Maybe 10% of National voters really do wander off in the last couple weeks of an election campaign over and over again and the polls are perfectly designed to pick that up. But you can't ignore it when prognosticating on their expected vote on election day. NZF scores higher than the polls at 3-4 weeks out and National scores lower, by quite a lot, have done for ... a long time? Seems like.

Generally the ones a week out are closer, and that last 3-day Roy Morgan one has been pretty solid with the high response rate (96% declaring voting intention) near the polling day. At least it's within the margin of error, their lowest National number for years, and still high.

 

@Andrew Geddis. I agree there's no magic bullet. It's intractable, that's why we ask everyone on election day, even if a bunch of them still don't say. But you can't ignore a known source of error that's only a small cost margin just because it's not going to make things perfect. Better is better.

 

Hell, my real problem with the polls is the declared certainty articles like this profess because of them. It's just not true, and a lot of voters stay home because they think the result is certain (nearly 5% last time), when it's not even known approximately. Even where this article hedges it's assuming National only needs NZF or Conservative, where it could easily need them both if they both get in.

 

I don't see a lot even talking about the Maori seats, or if ACT will actually win in Epsom with that clown, or will the tabacco lobby group get arsed out, we could have a huge overhang this time around and then it's even harder for National to govern. ACT, United, and 3 Māori could make 124 seats, then you need 61 seats + ACT/United for a four-party government. If Conservatives make 5% and there's little wastage, it'll be interesting for anyone to form a government.

And just a few thousand votes could turn it. Who gets those last three or four seats is always tight.

by Andrew Robertson on September 08, 2014
Andrew Robertson

@tussock

I find it equally frustrating when poll results are used to reach supposed foregone conclusions. I also find it a bit depressing when I think about voters basing their decsions on who they think is going to win, or backing an underdog.

The thing is though, I really do think polls do more good than harm. How many times have we heard the PM say something along the lines of "Actually, at the end of the day, I think most New Zealander's are pretty relaxed about it." Or what about when politicians or political commentators report "Internal polls show we're at X." Or do you remember people saying something along the lines of "New Zealanders aren't ready for same-sex marriage"

Without polls we'd have no way to know if we're bring lied to. My view is that democracy would be worse without independent polls.

Actually, without indpendent polling, the marriage amendment may not have got the votes it needed to pass.

by Jane Beezle on September 08, 2014
Jane Beezle

Wayne,

The point made in the parliamentary debates I cited to was that no-one questioned Sir Geoffrey Palmer's "competence, high reputation, honesty, or transparency", but rather his independence and neutrality, alongside its appearance.

As you say, he may have been an excellent appointment.  But the question remains whether his appointment was damaging to the public's perception of the political independence of our top tier public officials, and has now set the bar lower.

Were there any Presidents before him who where not from the judiciary?  Was his ability to submit Cabinet papers a good thing?  I thought Cabinet papers came from ministers.  Call me a traditionalist but that goes to the heart of our constitutional arrangements.  Perhaps we should get Cabinet papers submitted from other non-elected representatives  for the sake of pragmatism and to get legislation passed more quickly.

We could both probably bat around appointments in other roles since that time which have been highly questionable.   All of this ultimately degrades public confidence in our system of government.

You seem to be of the view that as a Law Commissioner, engaging in political commentary is appropriate, and you are careful to "stay away from policy".  Sorry, but it should be the other way around.  You should stay away from politics as a Law Commissioner.  Engagement in policy is what Law Commissioners do. Overall, during the highly sensitive pre-electoral period, even engagement in policy examination requires careful judgement.

I have probably said enough as in the end it is for you to decide how you conduct yourself.  I know that Prof Geddes repeatedly finds me "tiresome", possibly because from the Hocken Building he is sometimes challenged by the experience of a practitioner.

 

by Tim Watkin on September 08, 2014
Tim Watkin

Jane, I think you're right to steer away from personal criticism. We play the ball and not her person here. I invited Wayne to contribute because it's valuable for people with his political experience to contribute to intelligent public debate and it's a rare site that has intelligent insight from various political viewpoints. He writes here in his personal capacity and I think we're all grown up enough to allow that people with professional responsibilities can (and all do) also have personal views.

@Tussock, which polls were 10 points out on the Nats last time? And the Nats actually went up again in the latest couple of newspaper polls, and were not "falling". But they were falling in earlier polls, so it's tricky to read. And the Roy Morgan is famously volatile. I remember in 2008 RM showing a late swing to Labour that didn't show on election day, for example.

by Andrew Geddis on September 08, 2014
Andrew Geddis

 I know that Prof Geddes repeatedly finds me "tiresome", possibly because from the Hocken Building he is sometimes challenged by the experience of a practitioner.

Prof Geddis in the Richardson Building finds repeated attempts to silence others by telling them that they are "not allowed" to say things tiresome. Not sure what your "experience as a practitioner" has to do with anything.

by tussock on September 09, 2014
tussock

Right now. There's a poll from Roy Morgan puts National at 45%. Fairfax Ipsos puts National at 54.2% at about the same date. That's not even in range of a double outlier. At least one of them is very wrong. Roy Morgan isn't especially volitile, it just puts out a lot of polls, so you see the giant random swings they try to storytell away more often.

So the story there is that Judith Collins resigned between them and "dirty politics" suddenly went from -4% to +4%. Or the polls were just a little pushy considering the news cycle. Or it's just noise and bias.

Like the "cup of tea" / media raids. The one that barely registered in the polls until the day on 2011? Fairfax got National at 54.0% five days from them getting 47.31% at the polls. Three weeks out Colmar Brunton at 56%. Six weeks out Reid Research at 57.4%. No one got them under 49.5 the whole time.

I know the pollsters say they're all within the margin of error, but it's bullshit. They're all 2.5% high, which is supposed to be 80% unlikely x 4 companies = 99.84% not. Plus Fairfax Ipsos out in fairyland, and pundits on TV talking up 52%.



Anyway, it's ten points from their highest poll in the campaign to what they really get, a couple points under the lowest. This time they're 54.2% high, 45% low. I'm picking 43%, under everyone like last time, +-2% because I'm guessing. Guessed right last time, but what are the odds. Maybe that same old relative bias between companies doesn't reflect a continued bias for National, this time, despite all the wild swings.

And yes, polling is super hard and actually really valuable for tactical voters, plus I wouldn't be able to sit here snarking about it if it wasn't being done, and then where would I be? Hmm?

by stuart munro on September 09, 2014
stuart munro

So much to comment on - you're a brave man Wayne predicting Winston - Shrodinger's cat is easier to pin down. It's nice to read a coherent voice from the right for a change, and I would hesitate to impugn Wayne's professional neutrality, though if Josie needs balancing it's not from the right.

The polls are increasingly becoming a ground on which issues are fought - and it's not solid ground. Notice the Pols folk in the Otago dirty politics symposium were concerned by poll validity issues and their influence. Experts' opinion in their field should not perhaps be too hastily discounted.

by Andrew Robertson on September 09, 2014
Andrew Robertson

@tussock

I agree with you. The variability between polls is large, and really annoying. It makes the poll-of-polls averages a bit suspect too. 

by onsos on September 09, 2014
onsos

Polls measure something, but we don't know what. They have National at between 45 and 54 at the moment, so that's a good position for National to be in, but we don't know what it means. The polls consistently over-estimate the support that the right receives, and National in particular. But by how much? 

Last election, every poll for months before had National's vote too high. (That would cap National's support at about 44 currently.) That doesn't mean that they are making the same misreading again, as much as I would like that to be true. 

What we can guess is that the two most likely outcomes are that Key is choosing between Peters and Craig, or that Peters is choosing between Key and Cunliffe. (The simple majority to National seems unlikely.)

Wayne Mapp is plainly a right-wing commentator, and I have my scepticism about a lot of what he writes--but he wears his position clearly. He is, as he says, relatively moderate and generally polite. He finds the prospect of the Key decision most likely--and it is certainly not unlikely.

If National are choosing between the Conservatives and NZF, I'd have to agree that there are very good reasons for Key to choose NZF. Key gets to affirm the perception that he is a centrist, he gets a known quantity, and he gets a strident opponent on his side.

It won't help them in 2017, however. The government looked tired two years ago. It is swamped in scandals and debacles of incompetency. Many of its talented people are going or have left. Tougher economic times are on the way. They have a serious succession problem. 

by Nick Gibbs on September 09, 2014
Nick Gibbs

They have a serious succession problem. 

At least they're planning a succession. If Sept 20th goes badly Labour's looking at a bloodbath between the old guard (ABC's) and the dead wood (DC and co)

by onsos on September 10, 2014
onsos

Nick--

I wonder where you are getting your idea that there is a huge amount of in-fighting in Labour. There certainly has been, but it is far from clear at the moment.

National have a different problem. Labour could go into the 2017 election led by Parker, Robertson or Little, quite straightforwardly, and there are others. National, on the other hand, have English or Bennett--who present serious problems, or a swag of unelectable pretenders (Joyce, Bridges... Collins?)

by tussock on September 10, 2014
tussock

onsos: Labour could go into the 2017 election lead by Prime Minister David Cunliffe. The real gap between Labour-Green and National-ACT, if National gets under 45, is tiny. They meet at about 43-44%. NZF has not ruled out the Greens this time, just as National has not ruled out NZF. More polls to come.

If this is like 2008 and 2011, National will get low 40's. Like 2002 they'll get sub-40. Like 2005 they'll get high 40's. Who's actually going to turn out and vote, how much gets dropped by the 5% rule, can the left energise their diverse base. How's the youth vote coming? Better, worse?

National's own adds are reminding voters that under MMP, every election is a close election, asking people to vote early if they might be busy on the day. It's the bit that covers most of the paper, because it's the bit which is true. Labour always gets out the vote, National is praying this one doesn't swing like the last two, because if it does they're done.

by Bruce Thorpe on September 10, 2014
Bruce Thorpe

In the proposed scenario of both Conservative and NZ1 parties  taking 5% of the vote but National requiring only 1 partner of those, it would mean National/Cons/NZ1 would be in excess of 55%.i.e. 65-6 seats in parliament.which does seem quite a stretch.

The difference between polls and the actual vote is usually in a pattern of the major party dropping a point or two, and smaller parties growing in unpredictabler fashion.

 

i would suggest if both parties cross the 5%, then it is probable Key will require both, which could be very messy. Then a similar proportion of "left" parties might  manage something more attractive to Winston..

MMP elections have,as I recall, have never followed predictions and usually produced a surprise or two of significance.

I really think the turn out this time will be crucial.If the stay away factor is the same as last year, the next government will be very similar to the current one. If ex-Labour voters stay home again, Key could win in a trot.

 

But there has been a lot of activity about getting out the new and previous abstaining voter. Labour, Greens, IMP, at least one NGO, unions and the electoral bureaucracy have been busier than in the past. There seems to be something of a lift in public meetings, which could seriously change the results of small parties.

I reckon new and inexperienced voters tend to boost the"boutique" parties which make a campaign virtue of less government. Referendum legislation and the environment will appeal 

Winston stole a March on the experts, and media, at the first MMP election, by campaigning in the communities, he seems to have been busy again, as has IMP, where Harre has been in her element.

ACT did well first out,encouraging adherents to  simplistic slogans. Then we had Dunne bring in a strange bunch of unknowns because of the worm effect. The Maori Party siding with Key was not widely predicted. 

So each MMP has surprised us all, except for 2011, when the Nats did a superb almost  non election strategy, after the campaign had been overshadowed by the RWC tournament. But even then the figures were closer than predicted.

Because the opposition and hostility to this government is really in evidence in clashes around education, WINZ, billboard vandalism and volunteer videos, I expect the polls will be at quite a variance to the election vote.

Labour has done a lot more footslog than last time, the Kim Dotcom focus on change the government isdirected to these political forces, 

i predict a big turnout with all but the two major parties and the Maori Party getting a lift.

It could take a while to put the government omelette together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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