Every time we meet Prime Minister John Key, the man who rose from a modest economic background to become a millionaire through hard work and later to the top job in New Zealand, seldom fails to exude a high level of confidence and enthusiasm.
Even at the height of an election campaign, he does not show weariness.
“New Zealanders will choose the Government they want but we are focused on what people want,” he would say. With National rated high on all opinion polls, and with Mr Key riding high as the most preferred Prime Minister, the forthcoming general election on November 26 would be a foregone conclusion.
But complacency is a dangerous animal in the political game.
A low electoral turnout, with people staying at home, could spell disaster even for the strongest party. Hence, even National cannot afford an apathetic electorate.
Call it a presumptuous approach or a firm belief, many National MPs and supporters are convinced that they would win by a larger majority, enough to govern on their own, because the Party has never had it so good in the past three or so decades.
Despite its despicable rating, the Labour camp is also awash with enthusiasm and many are already talking of what they would do when they get back to the beehive in less than three weeks.
There is equal buoyancy among ACT leaders, candidates and supporters. Party chief Dr Don Brash, who dispensed with former Leader Rodney Hyde as the Leader was also confident of improving his Party’s performance. Although ACT has electoral chance only in Epsom in Central Auckland, a victory for electoral candidate John Banks would net a handful of seats for his Party, staking a claim in the next Government. ACT is to be a part of the next Government as well, and Mr Key is inclined to oblige again.
New Zealand First Winston Peters, United Future’s Peter Dunne, Greens’ Russell Norman would express similar sentiments.
But all of them seem to understand the most important factor in the election: People like us who matter.
To most hardworking New Zealanders, a free trade pact with India, global economic meltdown or even improving relations with our Aussie cousins across the Tasman would hardly matter.
Talk to them about the rising cost of living, the runaway growth in vegetable, fruits and petrol prices and the impossible task of keeping up with mortgage, they would understand.
National and Labour have stepped far into the field with a long list of pledges, not the least of which is their promise to create more jobs, introduce tax reforms, pay off the ballooning public debt and achieve higher levels of growth.
Although National is expected to win a clear majority to govern on its own, Mr Key is apparently in favour of participative governance; which is why he would welcome a couple of ACT MPs into his next cabinet.
Again, Labour cannot be ruled out in the post-election scene.
If the Party can win at least 35% of the electorate seats and if the Greens improve their performance, Labour can negotiate with them and others including United Future, Maori Party and the Mana Party to be the next rulers.
Whatever be the outcome, the day after the election would not only be interesting but also mark a turning point to New Zealand.
November 26 would tell us how mature we are as voters.