‘Jacindamania’ hoovered up latent Labour supporters from within the Greens and New Zealand First – more than halving their poll ratings from what they had been under Andrew Little. Even National lost some support as centre voters swung to the left.
The new look of Labour energised candidates fighting in the electorates, causing Peter Dunne to throw in the towel as United Future leader, and the Maori Party to lose its electorate seat.
It is indeed ironic that the Green Party, which has so assiduously promoted a radical Maori sovereignty agenda, was responsible for the collapse of the two Maori sovereignty parties – the Maori Party and Hone Harawera’s Mana Party.
Perhaps, in a wider sense, this signals that separatist radicalism is no longer wanted by most Maori voters – that indeed they want to be a part of New Zealand, not separate from New Zealand.
There are, in fact, 29 MPs in the new Parliament who have disclosed Maori ancestry – almost a quarter of Parliament. Maori make up only 14% of the New Zealand population, but they now have 24% representation in Parliament.
The Media Play
Labour’s startling rise in the polls, was largely driven by the media. The extraordinarily positive publicity they gave to Labour’s new leader day after day would have dramatically elevated the profile of any party. In fact, it was not days, but weeks before adulation finally gave way to the proper scrutiny of election promises as a focus of news. It was only then that the election battle could really begin.
As could be expected, tax dominated the campaign as the single biggest differentiator of the approach of the two major parties: Labour wanted to cancel the tax cuts and introduce a raft of new taxes to fund their spending programme, while National wanted to reduce taxes and fund their election promises through prudent fiscal management.
Labour again ignored the sage advice of their former leader David Lange, that a Capital Gains Tax is a tax you introduce if you want to lose not one election, but the next three elections.
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes
With Labour having already lost the previous two elections in which they strongly promoted a Capital Gains Tax, it remains to be seen whether the words of the former Prime Minister will prove to be prophetic and they will lose this third election as well.
With the public now rejecting a Capital Gains Tax at three general elections – it is hoped that Labour will finally learn to listen to the voice of the people.
There is much water to go under the bridge before our new government is announced, but despite all the ups and downs, we should not lose sight of the importance of elections and the value of democracy. When we vote, each and every one of us is making a difference. It is now up to those that we have elected into office to do the right thing and deliver us a new government that is capable of running the country well, as we face the uncertainties of the global future that lies ahead.
Dr Muriel Newman is Director of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a web-based free weekly Newsletter, NZCPR Weekly. The above is a small extract of the article that appeared in her weekly edition dated September 30, 2017. For full text, please visit http://www.nzcpr.com/
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Hone Harawira (left) and Te Ururoa Flavell after signing an electoral agreement in Whangarei on February 20, 2017. (Photo RNZ Mihingarangi Forbes)