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The Election With Many Victors Ends And Now We Wait

The Election With Many Victors Ends And Now We Wait

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS - NZ has to wait and see what form the next Govt takes after the weekend’s election.

In some ways this was an election of many victors. It was a personal triumph for Bill English, banishing the demons of 2002 and running a strong campaign with National remarkably exceeding the levels of support it had when it came into office in 2008.

Jacinda Ardern transformed Labour’s fortunes. Until she came to power Labour’s phone to the voters was “off the hook” and the party was stumbling to election humiliation. It is now once again a credible political force. Winston Peters is yet another winner as he is now the PM maker.

The most likely outcome is National forming a Govt with NZ First or with its support. However, this is not a certainty and Peters may consider backing Labour in some sort of arrangement. This would be a more complex undertaking and some would argue a Govt which ignores the wishes of 46% of voters will lack moral authority. However, moral authority and a majority in Parliament are not the same thing and it is the majority which commands power in the House.

Special declaration votes still to be counted are estimated at 384,072 (15% of total votes). The final results are due on Oct 7. In recent elections, special votes have resulted in National losing an MP and the Greens and/or Labour gaining one. This is possible, but unlikely this will change the process of Govt formation.

If past trends are repeated it may make the prospect of Labour/Green Govt more tempting to Peters as it would move away from the narrowest of majorities in Parliament – 61 – to something with a little more wiggle room.

Exploratory talks will begin this week and Peters has learnt from experience voters do not have patience with excessively prolonged negotiations.

Mention also must be made of the election’s biggest losers.

The Greens will consider their survival a small victory, but they started the campaign with the hopes of increasing their party share to 15% or even 20%. They barely survived and their members’ refusal to even flirt with National means they could face the humiliation of being shut out of Govt and being forced to support a Labour/NZ First Govt in exchange for a few policy crumbs.

The Maori Party are the worst victims, they find themselves out of Parliament and it is a difficult place to get back into once a party has been rejected. It’s fall meant English could not celebrate a potential election night majority. It also meant Labour lost a potential ally.

It is a reminder of how being in Govt can often crush smaller parties. However, some in National will look at being in Govt with NZ First as a similar problem. No major party has ever survived being in Govt with NZ First. National in 1996 and Labour in 2005 were both thrown out of office at the next election.

Right now, only one party is assured of being in Govt - it is NZ First, with its 7.5% support. Is this the result NZ really wanted?
For analysis and further updates see this week’s edition of the Trans Tasman Political Alert


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