Quantcast

New Zealand Elections

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,890
4
Hypernormality
Are in three days. Up until yesterday it was looking like a sure win for sensible Labour, but today new polls show Conservative Don Brash's party moving into the lead. This is a BAD thing.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4240444.stm

As New Zealand prepares for a neck-and-neck general election on Saturday, a secretive Christian sect has been in the news as much as the issues.

Don Brash, leader of the main opposition National Party, has had his credibility questioned after he first denied knowing about the sect's controversial leafleting campaign, then admitted he did.

The leaflets target the governing centre-left Labour party and its coalition partner, the Greens, with titles such as "Are you really safe?"

The leaflet affair has been an unexpected bonus for Labour, which is hoping to win a third three-year term in office. Labour's leader, former academic Helen Clark, is an experienced politician and her government has presided over a sustained period of economic growth.

But Labour is facing a strong challenge from National on the two big issues of race and tax, and opinion polls put the two parties level.

"The polls are reflecting the uncertainty in the electorate," according to political commentator Colin James.

"This should be an unloseable election for Labour because of the strongly growing economy, but cutting across this is the highly contentious issue of indigenous rights. Plus there is a subsidiary issue of large tax cuts promised by National," he said.

Analysts say there has been a shift in public sentiment against what many see as Labour's special treatment for indigenous Maori, who make up around 15% of New Zealand's four million people.

National has taken a popular stand against what Mr Brash calls race-based funding, through which Maori receive targeted government funding for health, education and development. Also under fire are new laws allowing same-sex civil unions, a ban on smoking in public places, and a proposed ban on smacking.

While race relations may have soured, the economy has boomed. Unemployment is currently at 3.7%, the lowest in the OECD, and annual growth has been running at more than 4% over the last five years - higher than Australia and the United States - although it has slowed significantly in the past year.

As a result, the Labour government is now sitting on a budget surplus of around NZ$7bn ($4.9bn).

Tax offers

Voters want to know how some of this extra wealth will make its way into their pockets. Both Labour and National have promised tax cuts in their election manifestos.

National is offering a temporary cut in taxes on petrol, generous across-the-board reductions and a promise to reduce corporate tax, while Labour is targeting lower middle income families with its Working for Families tax credit package. Labour is also offering a sweetener for debt-laden students, many of whom will be first-time voters, by proposing to make government loans to students interest-free.

But this election is not just a two-horse race. Nineteen political parties are contesting the 2005 polls, including six newcomers. Under New Zealand's mixed-member proportional representation system (MMP), the larger parties are likely to have to seek support from the smaller parties in order to gain a workable majority in the 120-member single chamber parliament.

Currently, Labour governs with the support of the Green Party, the tiny Progressive Coalition and the pro-family United Future New Zealand. The Greens and Progressive say they would be willing to work with a new Labour government; United Future says it will seek talks with whichever party gains the most votes.

If it wins, National can count on support from the pro-business Act Party. Another key conservative party, New Zealand First, which currently has 13 MPs, is keeping the big parties guessing. Its leader, Winston Peters, has supported both Labour and National in previous governments, and could well play the role of kingmaker once again.

A new entrant to the political system is the Maori Party, which says it aims to give indigenous people an authentic voice in parliament. The emergence of the new party is expected to encourage a bigger Maori voter turnout.

It is also likely to take votes from Labour, which has traditionally been seen as more sympathetic to Maori aspirations.

Foreign affairs

If there is a change of government, the biggest shake-up is likely to be in foreign affairs.

"If National wins, you'll see an opening of dialogue with the United States," said John Armstrong, political commentator at the New Zealand Herald. "They'll want a closer defence relationship in the hope of getting better trade relations."

New Zealand is seeking to follow Australia's lead in winning a free trade agreement with Washington, but a major stumbling block has been Wellington's liberal internationalist stance.

But whoever forms the new government is likely to face an economic downturn in the wake of sharply higher oil prices and the widening trade deficit.

"It's not going to be an easy ride," cautioned Mr Armstrong. "It will be difficult for a National government to keep its promises on tax cuts. And it will be difficult for a Labour government to maintain its spending plans."
Don Brash can eat a dick.
 

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,890
4
Hypernormality
We have to wait up to 2 weeks now for the final result. Labour scored 0.9% more than National in the election, which equals 1 more seat in Parliment, but neither has enough seats for a majority, which you need to become 'The Government'. This means each side is fighting to do deals with the many minor parties. The first to form a coalition which represents a majority will be the new government. It could go either way at this stage.
 

valve bouncer

Master Dildoist
Feb 11, 2002
7,791
35
Japan
Could you vote Chang or not yet? I know up until the mid 80's Brit permanent residents could vote in Australian elections. Kiwiland must be similar.
 

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,890
4
Hypernormality
valve bouncer said:
Could you vote Chang or not yet? I know up until the mid 80's Brit permanent residents could vote in Australian elections. Kiwiland must be similar.
No, I could not, but being fairly politically aware, I bullied all my friends into voting as I chose :D Wasn't much bullying required to be honest. Pretty much everyone I know voted Labour and/or Green. I'd imagine that on the whole Labour and the Greens took most of the youth vote. The right wing parties are mostly dependant on religious types and old people.
 

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,890
4
Hypernormality
A section of an opinion piece from stuff.co.nz

Who backed Helen? Overwhelmingly, working-class voters of the metropolitan centres. In South Auckland especially, Labour activists and their trade union comrades tirelessly enrolled voters and canvassed their support. On election day, in pouring rain, they fanned out across the sprawling state house suburbs, knocking on doors and ferrying voters to the polling booths.

It was here, far from the leafy redoubts of Dr Brash's middle-class "mainstream", that the election was won for Labour. In spite of the fact that their wages have barely kept pace with inflation during the past six years. In spite of the fact that their unions are leg-ironed by one of the most restrictive industrial relations regimes in the Western world. And in spite of the fact that Labour's proposed free-trade agreement with China is likely to wipe out 300,000 manufacturing jobs – their jobs – Kiwi workers stayed staunchly Labour. Miss Clark and her party owe these working-class voters, big time.

Miss Clark also owes the women of New Zealand, big time. The gender gap in this election was huge. While far too many Kiwi blokes simply reached out for the money, their mothers, sisters and wives reached out a helping hand to the young, the old, the sick and the unlucky. If ever the claims of the early feminists – that the enfranchisement of women would refine and civilise society – were borne out in practice, they were borne out on Saturday night.

Miss Clark should also feel indebted to the young people of New Zealand. They have repaid her faith in their creativity and idealism by giving Labour and the Greens their support. Their optimism and energy are crucial to raising the productivity of the New Zealand workforce. In return, Labour owes them a policy regime in which the needs of young New Zealanders are accorded a much higher priority than has been the case for the past 15 years. Removing the interest on student loans should just be the beginning.

The tens of thousands of new New Zealanders from South Asia and the Middle East who rallied to Labour's banner are similarly deserving of Miss Clark's gratitude. Her Mount Albert electorate is home to many immigrants from India and Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Socialism and Islam have much in common, and it is hard to imagine a more politically engaged culture than that of the Indian sub-continent. New Zealand's immigrant communities hardly needed to be told which way to vote.

But more than any other group of New Zealanders, Miss Clark owes a debt of gratitude to Maori. It was their strategically savvy decision to vote for Labour with their party vote and for the Maori Party in the Maori electorates that created what amounts to an insuperable overhang for Labour's right-wing opponents.