The two major parties have begun to pitch their battle tents as Prime Minister John Key announced that the General Election to choose new Members of Parliament will be held on November 26, 2011.
The February 2 announcement, made almost ten months before the actual date, was a departure from the erstwhile norm (of about eight weeks notice), could be interpreted as National’s confidence in returning to power after a stunning victory in the 2008 Election.
National had an impressive finish of 59 seats and Labour had an insulting outcome of 43 seats. Then Prime Minister Helen Clark quit politics to take up the top job (Administrator) at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in March 2009.
Mr Key said it was in the country’s best interests to know the date of the General Election early in Election year.
“It creates certainty for New Zealanders and allows people to plan accordingly. This is particularly true this year when the Rugby World Cup, the third largest sporting event in the world, is being hosted by New Zealand,” he said.
Will the outcome of the World Cup determine the electoral fortune?
“Of course, it would,” a Rugby veteran told us, citing the 1999 General Election, which followed an All Black failure, in which the incumbent National Government was defeated.
But Rugby World Cup Chief Executive Martin Snedden does not agree.
“It is the hosting of the Tournament that matters,” he said.
Perceiving the future through the rear view mirror could be preposterous and we believe that Rugby would not decide the fate of National or Labour in the forthcoming Election.
The core issues
The economy, rising unemployment, spiralling prices and the general hardship that ordinary New Zealanders face would be issues that would weigh in the minds of voters and the Party that looks best to deliver us out of the quagmire would emerge as the winner.
National insiders are upbeat about their Party’s prospects, saying that the public mood is clearly in their favour, given the consistently high percentage it gets at opinion polls. They say that the tax cuts have left the average New Zealander better off and that its policies are working.
But Labour would bank on its promise to provide further tax relief (the first $5000 of income would be left untaxed), remove GST on essential items including fruits and vegetables and create more employment opportunities.
It is too early to determine voter behaviour.
The current political climate indicates that in the event of neither Party securing a majority to govern on its own, each of them would require the support of smaller entities. The Maori Party, which could be assured of at least seven seats in the coming Election, could continue to partner with a National Government.
The ACT Party, which returned to Parliament with an unexpected windfall of five members in 2008, would hope to either repeat its performance or even do better. But languishing below the threshold, it would be a hard task.
New Zealand First is back in the news, with its Leader Winston Peters trying to woo voters. It may be fatalistic to write them off, because, if the past is any indication, the Party may do well in the ensuing polls.
The state of the economy will undoubtedly play an important part in the electoral fate of National and Labour.
There are of course many other issues that must be considered and placed before the voters to determine their choice.
Indian Newslink will analyse these in its ensuing editions, providing equal opportunity for all players to voice their opinions and propagate their policies and programmes. A newspaper that is fair and balanced is the hallmark of democracy.
Additional reading in this section and our Editorial, The Election Crystal Ball is obscure