National in drag difficult sell

May 30, 2018

Two polls this week show the National Party still ahead of Labour with about 45% support.

That is encouraging for National and worrying for Labour.

But the latter has two support parties, although New Zealand First is registering below the 5% and the Green Party is hovering close enough  to the threshold to make it possible it might not make it back into parliament and we’d return to a two-party system in spite of MMP.

Possible isn’t probable and in spite of being the most popular party, National lacks any allies with sufficient support to enable it to form a government with more than 50% of the vote.

Act could gain another MP or two, but it hasn’t managed to do that in recent elections and would have to do so without taking votes from National to make a positive difference.

The Maori Party might win back a seat or two, but that too is more possible than probable.

Finding another party which could either win a seat or cross the 5% threshold would not be easy.

Some are suggesting a National MP leaves the party to form another one. But National in drag would be a very difficult sell for party members and other voters, and would only help if it got votes from the left and not the centre-right.

Tariana Turia managed to win a seat when she left Labour and formed the Maori Party; Winston Peters did it with NZ First; Peter Dunne held his seat under several manifestations of what eventually became United Future and former Labour MP Richard Prebble won a seat for Act but they are the exceptions. Any other MPs that I can recall who left a party and formed another failed to hold their seats.

The other option is standing back and making an accommodation to let a new party, which would take votes from Labour, NZ First and/or the Greens, take a National-held seat.

But that would be very difficult to do and would be entering very dubious territory.

National voters gave electorate votes to Dunne but he was a sitting MP when he formed his own party. Act voters opted for Rodney Hide of their own volition and not because National made an accommodation. They supported him and subsequently David Seymour but didn’t have to vote against a sitting National electorate MP to do so.

Trying to persuade National voters to swap support from an MP they voted in for someone from a new party would be a very different matter.

National is a victim of its own success and any attempt to help another party is likely to backfire and sabotage its own support.

It’s also a victim of the failure of MMP to give us a party in the middle that stands for something and could go centre-right but what can it do about without endangering its own support?


It’s only one poll

April 16, 2018

Labour’s honeymoon is over for now.

National is back in front of Labour but the three parties in the coalition are still comfortably ahead of National and Act.


Satire or serious?

November 29, 2017

Act’s newsletter Free Press says it’s learned from a usually reliable source what’s in the secret coalition document:

First Things First: Why is it Secret?
It is very damaging in a democracy for Jacinda Ardern to keep secret what the Government has pledged to its coalition partner. Why the secrecy? There are significant new extra spending promises. Labour does not want the Treasury to know or the extra spending will be added to the Treasury forecasts due to be published shortly.

Running out of Other People’s Money
Already the treasury forecast will show Labour’s election spending promises were understated and there is a blow out. Add the new secret spending promises and New Zealand’s credit rating is at risk. A credit rating decline means everyone’s mortgage payments go up.

Second
There are or were 38 pages to the Labour-New Zealand First agreement. As the PM has almost admitted it has been edited down to 33 pages and Labour is trying to get it lower. The missing five pages are still part of the coalition agreement but both governing parties have conceded it will be very damaging if they are ever published.

The Two Governments Agreement
What is in the agreement? In effect the document creates two governments, A Labour/Green government and a New Zealand First government. Winston Peters is granted a veto over the Labour/Green government but in the New Zealand First government his powers are untrammelled.

Labour/Green Government
The government budget must be submitted to NZ First (Winston) for approval
Labour has agreed to a 10 percent a year increase in the Foreign Affairs budget.
Labour has agreed that NZ First manifesto promises will have priority. The Northland port and railway, for examples
New Zealand First nominations will be approved. For example to the port inquiry.
No concessions can be made to the Greens without prior approval from New Zealand First, think Kermadecs
No new policy not contained in the coalition agreement can be advanced by Labour Ministers without NZ First approval.
All government appointments must be approved by NZ First
New Zealand First Government
Foreign Affairs budget to be increased and Mr. Peter’s Foreign Affairs budget requests cannot be vetoed. Mr Peters can spend his budget how he chooses.
All budget requests from New Zealand First Ministers that have been approved by Mr Peters must get priority.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Peters has the sole right to nominate all Ambassadors and other diplomatic posts not just Washington and London but he cannot be stopped from appointing his mates to be consuls as he tried with Owen Glenn.
As Minister of SOEs Mr Peter’s has the sole power to appoint all the chair and directors of every SOE. Dozens of appointments.
New Zealand First can nominate, over three years, six people to be knights (or, theoretically, Dames) and its nominations will be favourably considered for other honours.
New Zealand First will appoint the next Chief of Defense
A provision requires all Ministers to refer any request from or to a New Zealand First Minister to go through Mr Peters office.
The PM has agreed that she will not dismiss any New Zealand First Minister, MP or appointee without Mr Peter’s approval and the PM has also agreed to dismiss any NZ First minister, MP or appointee if asked to by Winston Peters.
Unbridled Power
No previous Prime Minister has had the power and patronage that Winston Peters has been given. He can appoint his cronies to be Ambassadors, SOE chair and directors and he can give them knighthoods. He has an iron grip over his party. Winston in effect controls the government budget and can spend billions of dollars on his pet projects while vetoing the plans of both Labour and the Greens.

Snookered
No wonder the Prime Minister, who foolishly thought none of this would become known, is desperate to keep it secret. We suspect that at some stage some of the document will have to be released but as the PM is now denying even the existence of five pages of the secret deal it may be years before we know.

We Need Some Responsible Adults Here
The Secretary of the Treasury should demand to see the full 38 pages. If the government will not let the Treasury see the full secret coalition agreement then the Secretary of the Treasury must tag the Government accounts saying that the Treasury had asked and been denied access to the full coalition agreement and future spending may be significantly greater than the forecast.

For the country’s sake I hope this is satire, but I think it’s serious.

We’d know which it is if the document was released to the public as Peters said it would be but Jacinda Ardern is refusing to do.


Why are we waiting?

October 8, 2017

The official election results left National with two fewer seats than on election night and Labour and the Green party with one more each:

  • The number of seats in Parliament will be 120.
  • The National Party has 56 seats compared with 58 on election night.  
  • The Labour Party has 46 seats compared with 45 on election night.
  • The Green Party has 8 seats compared with 7 on election night.  
  • There are no changes to the number of seats held by New Zealand First and ACT New Zealand which remain at 9 and 1 respectively.
  • All electorate candidates leading on election night have been confirmed as winning their seats.
  • The total number of votes cast is 2,630,173.  47% of votes were cast in advance.
  • The turnout as a percentage of enrolled electors is 79.8% (2014 – 77.9%).  This is the highest turnout since 2005 (80.9%).
  • The final enrolment rate is 92.4% (2014 – 92.6%).

This still leaves a possibility of National and NZ First governing with 65 seats or Labour, NZ First and the Greens governing with 63 seats, or NZ First giving confidence and supply to one of the bigger parties while sitting on the cross benches.

The difference between the numbers has got a little smaller but nothing else has changed about the options since election night so why couldn’t negotiations have started sooner and why are we still waiting for an outcome?

 


It’s only another poll

September 20, 2017

This is a good boost for Prime Minister Bill English as he heads into the final leaders’ debate:


Labour’s poll lower

July 15, 2017

The 1 News Colmar Brunton poll released this week was bad news for Labour.

Its own poll is even worse.

Newshub has been leaked poll results from the company that does Labour’s internal polling which show it is in big trouble, two-and-a-half months out from the election.

The results show Labour is on 26 percent support – crashing from 34 percent in May. . . 

National is chugging along as usual – currently on 42 percent – then Labour (26 percent), the Greens (13 percent) and New Zealand First (14 percent). . .

The Roy Morgan poll released last night held better news for Labour:

The overall support for the governing National-led coalition was down 3.5% to 45.5% with National support down 3.5% to 43% while support for their Coalition partners was unchanged with Maori Party on 1.5%, Act NZ on 1% and United Future on 0%.

Support for a potential Labour/Greens alliance was up 4.5% to 44% driven by the 5% rise in support for Labour, now on 30.5%, while support for the Greens was down 0.5% to 13.5%. Support for New Zealand First was down 1% to 8%.

But that poll usually has bigger changes than the others and it’s the trend which matters.

The UMR polls shows a downward trend for both National and Labour.

That’s similar to what happened in 2002 when many voters didn’t think National, the bigger Opposition party, had a chance, but Labour, the main governing party,  didn’t benefit.

Act, NZ First and whichever iteration of what is now United Future was then, mopped up support instead.

This time neither Act nor United Future are gaining but NZ First is.

People tend to bank the good things a government does and the longer a party is in power the more people will take issue with what it does, or doesn’t do.

Even though polls continue to show a reasonable majority think the country is on the wrong right track, that might not be enough to return a stable, National-led government.

 


Election Sept 23

February 1, 2017

Prime Minister Bill English has announced that the general election will be held on September 23rd.

He’s following the example of his predecessor John Key who announced the date early.

This gives certainty for everyone about when the regulated period before election day starts, makes it easier for the people who administer the process and takes the politics out of setting the date.

September 23rd is the first day of school holidays but with the freedom for anyone to vote early that shouldn’t be a problem.

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He also spoke of which parties National could work with in the next term should it be in a position to lead a fourth government:

“Under MMP elections are always close so we will be taking nothing for granted as we campaign for the right to lead New Zealand for another term,” says Mr English.

“We will be fighting hard to win every party vote to ensure we are in the best possible position to form a strong and stable Government that continues to deliver for all New Zealanders.

“However, MMP means we will almost certainly have to work with other parties.  This will likely be in the form of confidence and supply agreements, which have worked well for us in the last three terms.”

Mr English said his preference is to continue working with current partners –  ACT, United Future and the Māori Party.

“Together our parties have provided a stable and successful government at a time of great uncertainty in many parts of the world,” says Mr English.

Mr English ruled out working with the Labour-Greens grouping. 

“They are an increasingly far left, inward looking grouping, with no new ideas who don’t back New Zealanders to succeed.

“New Zealand First is an unlikely partner, however I am prepared to have discussions with them post-election depending on the makeup of Parliament,” says Mr English. 

 


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