We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
I don’t think the above quote has much to do with the outcome of the election. It’s just cool.
The polls predicted a comfortable majority for the National Party and New Zealand First under 5%. What happened? I’m guessing it was the extremely poor voter turn-out. I read somewhere it was the worst since the 1880s. This meant that the votes cast were not proportionate to the support in the wider population. New Zealand First voters showed up. Labour voters – and to a lesser degree, National voters – didn’t.
National: Were a first term government with a popular leader, an opposition party in tatters and a public desperate for stability during a time of national crisis. They were coasting to a historic majority win until they actually began campaigning, which they did with such ineptness they bled votes to the Conservative Party and New Zealand First. They have coalition options to build a comfortable majority, but the other senior Ministers in the party must be wondering how their leadership will perform if they ever have a genuine fight on their hands.
Labour: Needs to rebuild its brand, and the best way to do that is with a raft of resignations of its incompetent, despised front-bench, so it can return some of the talent they lost last night. They need to do the same with their senior staffers. There’s a venomous culture of entitlement and unaccountability poisoning this political party.
I assume David Cunliffe will be their next leader. He could work – my reservations are (a) that if he wanted to be leader why didn’t he step up before the election, assume the throne and try to prevent what was obviously going to be a bloodbath and (b) that he was heavily involved in drawing up the party list, an exercise in incumbency protection that has cost them dearly. What does it say that Carmel Sepuloni came within ~300 votes of defeating Paula Bennett, one of the government’s highest profile Ministers, but wasn’t rated highly enough to get back in on the list because it was more important to get Darien Fenton and Rajen Prasad back into Parliament?
There will be a raft of commentators comparing this to National’s rout in 2002. ‘Oh, this is part of a cycle. Politics is like the tides. It’s fate.’ They’re wrong! National lost in 2002 because people hated the policies and values of the party. This time around the public preferred Labour’s policies. They just thought the people running the party were rubbish.
ACT: Ha! Worst possible outcome. The liberal party’s sole representative in Parliament is now John Banks. ACT is gone, but weirdly, horribly, still exists and is part of the government – so the task of building a new free-market far-right party is that much harder. What’s going to happen when National decides to pass some legislation that deeply offends ACT’s last dozen supporters, and Banks – loyal National man that he is – cheerfully votes for it?
Greens: Will, presumably, get another MP in on the special votes. It’ll be interesting to see which of the other parties lose out in this process. You’d have to guess it would be National – if it is then they could be reliant on the Maori Party to pass budgets.
Maori: Sharples and Turia will take their Ministerial salaries, vote for whatever they’re told to, be rewarded with comfortable sinecures when they retire during this term and their party will be wiped out in the next election.
MMP: Looks to be here to stay. So the long-term prospects for the left are pretty good. If the Green Party can maintain a 10% share, and Labour rebuilds and concentrates on winning votes off National and mobilising all those core, base voters who didn’t bother to support them this time around then the left can look forward to a comfortable victory in 2014.