NZ’s 2017 Election, A Postmortem Conversation

Over the weekend New Zealand held its election. Although with that said there was a record turnout of early voters who voted before election day. Labour got a shot in the arm a month or so out from the election when Jacinda Ardern got made the leader of the party. This resulted in “Jacinda-mania” an illness which spread like wildfire throughout social media, creating some pretty amped up echo-chambers. While she is Labour’s best chance, a lack of time to prepare new policies that could have swayed National stalwarts and blunders over tax late into the election took the shine off somewhat.

National came out with 58 seats, Labour with a handy 45, NZ First up 3 sitting on 9, Greens halved down to 7, and ACT with just 1 as usual. Greens will be siding with Labour, but this won’t be enough to give them a majority. This leaves NZ First’s Winston Peters in the Kingmaker position to decide who gets to win the game of thrones.

I spoke to Kristof Haines about his thoughts about how it all turned out, and who Winston might pick.

Any big surprises for you over the election?

Honestly, it played out very much as I expected. I thought Labour might get a little more, but not more than National.

Yeah, it ran the course you were predicting pretty closely. It’s what anyone who wasn’t caught in the hype should have been expecting. My only big surprise was the Maori party turning to dust. But In hindsight, they were nonexistent during the narrative leading up to the election.

Very good point. I wasn’t expecting that either, but then I was hardly thinking about them. Which is telling. They’ve always relied heavily on electorates, and they lost their strongest contender. This was not an election friendly to small parties.

You’re right! Greens got cut in half, and all the other minor parties disappeared. The Maori party really should have been playing up the water thing.

Water was a crowded arena with Labour and Greens making a fuss about it.

True! So who’s your money on Winston going with? National is the safe choice that a majority of his voters would be fine with.

It’s really hard to say. The main reason for going with Labour would be the very real danger of propping up a fourth term government. Getting a fifth term is near impossible, and the coalition partner is almost always blamed for any failures of a government this old. NZers get antsy when there’s been no change for this period of time.

He could also squeeze a lot out of Labour if he tried. Although it’s a crowded party, Greens would be sort of an annoying bedfellow when it comes to hashing out negotiations.

It would be annoying, but maybe worth it.

National is throwing away ACT for the complications they might cause with NZ First.

Yeah, ACT is utterly fucked. I doubt they’ll have a dirty deal with National next election. Which means they’ll disappear.

My favourite fantasy at the moment is the Greens making a sudden break for it and doing a deal with National, cutting Winny out, and possibly getting a couple of their bills out there before they go down in a blaze of glory in the next election.

Hahaha that would be entertaining for sure.

Will Labour be smart enough to hold onto Jacinda till the next election?

I’d say so. They’re not going to axe her after she brought them up out of the doldrums and made them relevant again.

I hope so, for their sake. She’s the best chance they have.

She is. Hopefully that’s blindingly obvious enough for them to recognise. I’m glad that girl-wonder Swarbrick squeaked in. She could be Prime Minister one day.

The movie script of her life is writing itself pretty well so far for sure!

Her relentless rationality really appeals to me.

The media have already asked her whether she’ll be contesting the greens vacant leadership position. Of course her answer was a well thought out “no, I need to find the toilets in the beehive first.”

It’s an attractive idea, but she’s far too new.

While we’re discussing happy endings, Bill English must be pretty happy with only losing 1 seat.

Yeah, I’d say that would be a relief after a campaign that didn’t go according to plan at all. Their “Labour wants to tax the shit out of you” narrative really paid off.

It really did! I get the feeling this would have felt like quite a personal victory for him. He was painted as a bit of a loser himself, constantly haunted by his past failures.

Well, he hasn’t won yet. He may still be the guy who dropped the John Key ball.

You’re more optimistic than the rest of the left bloc, and that’s not something you usually excel at. Ha ha

I just think it’s still up in the air. There are legitimate reasons for Peters to go either way.

About the Author

Izak Flash
Entertainment writer and illustrator. He holds the conch, so he gets to speak. Send him abuse on twitter at @Izak_Flash