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ELECTION 1999: Jonathan Hill's Election Prediction

Right. As the chances of getting this right are slim indeed, this guess is purely on gut feeling. I'm picking a week of negative campaigning from National is not going to wash well with voters and will eventually be to the party's detriment.

The launch of such a campaign last week in the Coromandel has started badly and was a public relations disaster. Such a campaign worked for National last time, allowing them to snatch a victory in the last 72 hours but Labour seem better prepared to counter this and the public look set to punish it.

ACT will launch a late but vigorous campaign to eat further into the softer National support base around the midweek mark. Realising that their chances of being a part of the next government look poor they will soon be going all out to maximise their own support, largely at National's expense.

All is fair in love and war!

I guess ACT will eventually poll 10 per cent and National will slump to 30 per cent. Richard Prebble will lose his prize Wellington Central seat to Labour's Marian Hobbs by a margin of around seven or eight per cent and the swing towards the left will also be mirrored in the Coromandel where I pick Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons to win the crucial seat from National by at least a 10 per cent margin.

Both Wellington Central and the Coromandel were won by the encumbents as a result of vote splitting last time and the left look better organised to combat this this time around. Especially the Alliance and Phillida Bunkle.

Assuming a strong campaign and the dollars to effectively fend off the looming National onslaught I reckon Labour look set to end up with a percentage of the party vote in the high thirties - between 35 and 38. I'm going to say 36 per cent.

The Alliance campaign has been strong and consistent and if Anderton doesn't sleep during the last week and continues to dominate the leaders debate I pick the Alliance to end up with 10 per cent of the party vote.

I'm taking a stab on the Greens and say they will break the five per cent threshold - I put them on six per cent.

I am sorely tempted to write off NZ First but can't quite bring myself to do it. With Peters narrowly trailing in Tauranga and Tu Wyllie in a one percent race for Te Tai Tonga the party must break five per cent to guarantee it a place in parliament. A poll last week showed NZ First on 4.8 per cent.

Both Tauranga and Te Tai Tonga are far too close to call.

I am in turmoil over this one and really cannot decide but, as this is a silly game anyway, I put NZ First on five per cent and not a fraction more. I feel this may be against my better judgement as the wheels certainly seem to have come off the Peters campaign over the last 10 days.

United's Peter Dunne will win his seat of Ohariu Belmont.

Well there you go, that's my pick: Labour 36 per cent, National 30, ACT 10, Alliance 10, NZ First five, Greens six.

That leaves three per cent to split between the minor minor parties such as the ALCP and Christian Heritage.

This leaves National / ACT / United with a total of 41 per cent and Labour / Alliance / Greens with 52 per cent. Labour and the Alliance will need the Greens to avoid depending on Peters, and NZ First will not have enough support to be of any use to the right.

Well there you go, a hiding to nothing… I'm picking a Labour / Alliance / Green change of government and if I'm wrong I would guess that the left will have a bigger majority. If the undecided voters swing one way I pick it will be towards a change of government.

Go on, prove me wrong!

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