The date was announced in February: Saturday 23 September 2017.
This is the day that National will either earn the historic right to form a fourth term Government, or see the Sixth Labour-led Government defy the odds that the political bookies have lined up against it.
Now, with 99 days to go and 98 until the hoardings must come down, the party websites disabled for 48 hours and the set corner and hall meetings of the candidates wound up, New Zealand faces the most important electoral campaign in a generation. With each term this National led Government has clocked up it has defied all reasonable polling expectations. Even Prime Minister Bill English, otherwise known as Boring Bill to the electorate seems to be streets ahead of the Leader of the Opposition and Labour counterpart Andrew Little known to some as Angry Andy.
But the discontent is simmering not so subtly in the background. People are frustrated over mental health, the environment and housing. They are frustrated with declining social welfare standards,
I predict one of four outcomes will occur in the 2017 General Election. My views have been reinforced by the recent dismantling of the French left/right political spectrum by a start up party. The victory of Emmanuel Macron who has since had overwhelming victory in the French Parliamentary election points to a profoundly angry electorate, disgusted with the excesses of the Francois Hollande presidency, but not wanting the hate filled Front Nationale to win.
Likewise the slamming of the brake on British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s ambitions by the voters shows that hardline conservative politics like far-leftist politics can only go so far before the voting population say enough is enough. The threat to go around basic human rights law to get at terrorist factions was in actual fact a grotesquely short sighted move that could have completely undermined the whole basis of the “War on terror”.
So what do I see happening in New Zealand? Any one of these four scenarios are possible:
- The voting public decide enough is enough and kick out National on the grounds of simply wanting someone else to make the mistakes for the next three years, in which case there is pretty much nothing National can do – neither mainstream party has a terribly flash election campaign
- Labour suffer a historic fourth election defeat in a row – resulting in an immediate, brutal yet decisive civil war from which a Corbyn type leader emerges
- Labour take inspiration from last weeks British election and inflict a bigger than expected defeat – evidenced by any abrupt drop in support for National following a major Labour policy release
- New Zealand First stun the country and take enough seats to force the mainstream parties to talk to Winston Peters – an increase in seat numbers is totally realistic, but I wonder how many have memories of the last coalition Government with National in 1997-1998
Parliament will probably be dissolved within six weeks, clearing the way for the General Election to proceed once the Writ has been issued.
After that, it’s all on.
Are you ready?