One of John Key’s legacies is announcing the election date early in the year.
He did it, Bill English followed his good example and now Jacinda Ardern has done it too.
This year’s election will be on Saturday September 19th, which is the anniversary of New Zealand women gaining the vote.
Will that give the party with a woman leader an advantage?
Who knows? People vote for and against parties and people for a variety of reasons, many of which have little if anything to do with whether or not it will result in good governance.
If history is a guide, the advantage lies with Labour. We haven’t had a one-term government since MMP was introduced, and the last one under FPP was in 1975.
But history also tells us that this is the first time since MMP was introduced that the party with the most votes is in opposition. It also tells us that it is rare for that party to be polling at similar levels of support it got in the last election and more often than not, polling higher than the party leading the government.
So is National in with a chance to win?
Yes but it won’t be easy and it will depend not only on it at least maintaining its support, it will also depends on what happens to the other parties.
New Zealand First has been hovering below 5% in recent polls. If it doesn’t improve on that, it would be out of parliament, unless it wins a seat.
In spite of its vehement criticism of National’s accommodation with Act in Epsom, NZ First might welcome something similar in a seat with Labour that, if it won, would mean it wouldn’t have to get 5%.
Then there’s the Maori Party. A strong candidate could take a seat from Labour and, in spite of National inviting it into government when it didn’t need to, it might go left rather than right.
Nothing is certain, but In spite of Ardern’s vow to lead a positive campaign, she will find it’s very hard to defend the government’s record when so much of its achievements have fallen far short of its rhetoric.