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Final Count and Coalition Talks: Focus On The Policy

Final Count and Coalition Talks: Ignore Histrionic Headlines, Focus On The Policy

Trans Tasman's Political Pulse - October 09, 2017

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS - The final election results have come in and were pretty much as expected and now Govt formation talks are proceeding, as the politicians said they would.

There has been a narrative in some media outlets to make these events look shocking, dramatic and full of conflict. Happily for the country, senior politicians tend to be a bit more thoughtful and know what cards the voters have handed them.

As predicted by past results, Labour and the Greens did better in the special votes than National. Labour has 46 seats compared with 45 on election night and the Greens 8 seats compared to 7 on election night. As a result, National drops 2 and now has 56 seats. Both Labour and National would have hoped to do slightly better, but this is the Parliament they now must work with.

Crucially, it takes a potential Labour-NZ First-Green arrangement from 61 seats in a 120 MP Parliament to 63 seats. This compares to a National/NZ First arrangement with 65 seats and ACT’s David Seymour as a pretty irrelevant wild card.

It means NZ First now has a realistic and workable choice between the two options. A majority of 61 would have been difficult, especially when it involves a majority of Labour, Greens and NZ First MPs who have never experienced the pressures of governing and putting together a Budget.

Being in Opposition may be frustrating, but it also allows for political grandstanding and making promises which in reality are hard to deliver on. It will be impossible for a Labour-Green-NZ First Govt to deliver all the promises made (or even some of them) and the resulting compromises will lead to disenchantment within their caucuses and supporters. Winston Peters knows from experience that 61 seats may have been difficult to manage, especially in a three-party arrangement. Sixty-three gives a bit more wiggle room.

National offers NZ First a simpler arrangement when it comes to political management. A single party with more MPs which, so far, has shown a united, disciplined front. Whether this would survive a coalition with NZ First is a problematic question.

If no applications for recounts are made - which appears likely - the Electoral Commission will on Thursday return the writ and the make-up of Parliament will be decided.

Peters has said his decision will be made then and it will be based on policy. This will mean compromise between the parties during this week’s talks and compromise is never easy.

Trans-Tasman’s advice in the coming weeks is to ignore the “shock” headlines, forget the dramatic portrayal of personality conflicts and media snubs, focus on the policy.

For analysis and further updates see this week’s edition of the Trans Tasman Political Alert

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