Prime Minister John Key’s decision to hold the general election on September 20, 2014 has at least removed one element from public debates and social gossips – speculation.
In announcing the date at his post-Cabinet press conference on March 10, Mr Key has continued his tradition of giving sufficient notice for the nation and the political players to prepare themselves for the day of reckoning.
He cited the annual G20 Summit scheduled to be held in Brisbane on November 15 and 16, 2014 and the possible visit of a few G20 leaders visiting New Zealand as the reasons for advancing the election date.
Mr Key believes that holding the general election on either side of the Summit in November would not be conducive for possible visits of world leaders to New Zealand as the country may be either in election mode or in post-election coalition talks.
“I am announcing the election date well in advance as I believe this gives New Zealanders some certainty and is in the country’s best interests. It is my practice to be up-front with the New Zealand public and provide plenty of notice about election timing,” he said.
“National will be campaigning on its strong record in Government and its plans to continue the good progress that New Zealand is making over the next three years,” Mr Key said.
Parliament will end its session on July 31 and prorogued on August 14.
Discounting earlier rumours that changing the National Flag would become an election issue, he told a meeting at the Victoria University in Wellington on March 11 that a referendum would be held during the next term but made his view on the subject clear.
“I am proposing that we take one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand by acknowledging our independence through a new Flag,” he said and outlined a plan for a cross-party group of MPs to recommend the best referenda process. He also believed that a Steering Group should ensure that New Zealanders have an opportunity to engage in discussion on the subject and submit their design ideas.
National would campaign on its six-year record in education, health, law and order as well as the economy.
Labour leader David Cunliffe was critical of the September date in his initial reaction but later reconciled to the decision, saying that his Party was already on election mode.
“Bring it on. We are ready, we are up for this. It is game on,” he said.
Labour is expected to put up a strong fight making the economy, environment, culture, heritage, a more inclusive society and building a new passion for being New Zealanders as the core election issues.
Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman was happy that date of the election was announced well in advance, although he would have preferred going to polls after spring.
“The Green Party will be campaigning on cheaper power prices this election because families have had enough of National’s inaction. Unlike the National Government, the Greens are not prepared to tolerate the status quo, which is working for the energy company executives but not for ordinary New Zealanders,” he said.
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters may hold the balance of power if people return a hung Parliament forcing National and Labour to be under his discretion. A shrewd politician who loves the guessing game, he prefers to wait until the voters have exercised their choice.
From all points of view, the forthcoming election would be interesting to watch. It promises dirty and yet exciting politics.
Indian Newslink will shortly commence extensive coverage of the election scene with analyses, articles and features.