Political parties begin gearing up for 2017 election

The New Zealand Parliament might still be in summer recess, but it is clearly obvious that the political parties are not. With the announcement that Iranian refugee Golriz Ghahraman will stand as a Green party candidate, it is clear that pre-election marshalling of the troops is well underway.

Ms Ghahraman, is not the only Green Party candidate to be announced. Chloe Swarbrick, who came third in Auckland’s Mayoral election campaign is another, and television presenter Hayley Holt is understood to be a third.

It is the employment records of these candidates that make them worth looking at as well. Ms Golriz has worked as a lawyer with United Nations tribunals in Cambodia and Rwanda. Hayley Holt earned a name on Dancing with the Stars television series, before becoming a television presenter. Chloe Swarbrick might have none of this, but her performance in the Auckland local government elections was impressive.

And the Green Party are not the only party to be announcing candidates, despite the year still being only 3 weeks old. National are close to announcing¬†former Wellington City Councillor Jo Coughlan as standing for Wellington Central. Former Police boss Greg O’Connor is considering standing for Labour. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has hinted in a coy way, without mentioning names that the party has some heavy hitters being lined up.

This puts pressure on United Future, the Maori Party and A.C.T to find candidates that suit their respective parties. It also means that long held seats may now be less secure. For A.C.T. leader David Seymour and United Future leader Peter Dunne, this must be nerve wracking for the survival of their parties depends on Epsom and Ohariu respectively.

With National seeking a fourth term in office, backed by A.C.T., United Future and the Maori Party – an unconventional arrangement that has worked surprisingly well given the ideological differences – Labour is facing its do or die year, despite showing its strongest signs of improvement in the last year. New Zealand First is facing the possibility that it may have a substantial hand in the next Government, not only dictating who forms it, but commanding a number of Cabinet seats around the table.

So roll on the election. You are going to be – for better or for worse – a very interesting one.

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