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Cablegate: Polls Indicate Public Disaffection with Labour Becoming

VZCZCXRO2533
RR RUEHNZ
DE RUEHWL #0538 2062347
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 252347Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4500
INFO RUEHNZ/AMCONSUL AUCKLAND 1406
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 4892
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0551
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS WELLINGTON 000538

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
STATE FOR STATE FOR EAP/FO, AND EAP/ANP, INR,
PACOM FOR J01E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NZ
SUBJECT: POLLS INDICATE PUBLIC DISAFFECTION WITH LABOUR BECOMING
EMBEDDED

Summary
-------
1. (SBU) Recent political polling indicates the emergence of an
embedded trend against the ruling Labour Party as it struggles to
close the sizeable gap in popularity with the rival opposition
National Party. Buttressing this trend is Labour Party leader and
Prime Minster Helen Clark's diminished personal polling versus the
popular National Party leader, John Key. Although the next election
is not scheduled until late 2008, the polls suggest the mood of the
electorate appears to be increasingly hardening against Labour and
Clark herself. End Summary
Polls shows mood against Labour and Clark entrenched
--------------------------------------------- -------
2. (SBU) NZ political poll results over past months indicate that a
trend is developing against the current Government as it struggles
against the growing popularity of the National Party and its adroit
leader, John Key. Although the next scheduled election is a year
away, the net effect of Labour's inability to close National's
sizable lead in party polling and Helen Clark's diminished personal
standing is a growing sense of a difficult-to-reverse hardening of
the electorate's mood against Labour.
2. (SBU) Key, who only became party leader in November 2006, is
firmly affixed as New Zealand most popular politician. Key's first
overtook Clark in preferred Prime Minister polling in May this year,
after eight years of dominance in the poll by Clark. This change at
the top of preferred Prime Minister polling is highly symbolic since
it places the new leader ahead of a long-established one thereby
removing the aura of invincibility which has surrounded Clark since
she took office in 1999. It signals that she is now politically
vulnerable.
Results of latest polling
-------------------------
3. (SBU) The latest Colmar Brunton-One News poll (July
8th)underlined the difficulty that the ruling Labour Party is having
in winning back the large lead built up by the National Party over
the past couple of months. This poll shows National at 52% and
Labour at 36%, virtually unchanged since the last survey in early
May. The most recent 3 News-TNS political poll (July 11th) has
National at 48% and Labour at 36%, a finding that is unchanged since
the last poll in early May. In the past Labour took consolation in
the "3 News-TNS" poll results which consistently placed it ahead of
National thus bucking the trend. Now, not only is this poll in tune
with the other major political polls, it forecasts a possible change
in the political guard. Although the July 23rd release of New
Zealand's third major political poll, the Herald DigiPoll, showed
that Labour ticked up slightly in the last month it still faces a
challenge to overtake National with 48.5% favorable support (Note:
This poll showed that Labour improved by taking numbers away from
smaller parties rather than eating into National's lead. End Note)
4. (SBU) Comment: While many voters may admire Clark's steadfast
political abilities and management skills, they have never really
warmed to her personally. Key is also admired for exhibiting these
same professional traits, but unlike Clark he represents other
qualities that endear him more to the average New Zealander. Key's
advantage lies in the perception that he does not fit the mold of a
career politician because he previously had a successful career in
the private sector. While Clark on the other hand, has been a career
politician practically her entire professional life. In the past
Clark's childlessness has been exploited by political opponents but
Key is not likely to resort to this tactic overtly. Key's family
life (he is married with three children) and an innate understanding
of what it takes to raise a family are important prerequisites to
most voters, especially women which accounts for his consistently
strong polling results. End Comment.
Keegan

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