Friday, 9 September 2016

From Kingmaker - To King?

Winston Peters PM? Assuming that NZ First’s support sits at around 10 percent at the outset of the 2017 election campaign, its election-night Party Vote could conceivably rise to around 20 percent. If half of those extra votes came from National, and half from Labour, then it’s entirely possible that Labour’s Party Vote could fall below 20 percent. That would make Winston Peters – not Andrew Little – the next political leader on the Governor-General’s calling list in the event that John Key proves unable assemble a parliamentary majority.
 
NOT JUST THE KINGMAKER – but the King. That’s the most likely outcome if Winston Peters doubles NZ First’s support during the 2017 election campaign – as he did in 2014.
 
Such an outcome would herald a revolution in New Zealand’s electoral politics. Not only because a minor party would have usurped the position of a major party in a general election – something which hasn’t happened since the 1930s – but because it would also represent a catastrophic defeat for New Zealand’s ruling elites.
 
Assuming that NZ First’s support sits at around 10 percent at the outset of the 2017 election campaign, its election-night Party Vote could conceivably rise to around 20 percent. If half of those extra votes came from National, and half from Labour, then it’s entirely possible that Labour’s Party Vote could fall below 20 percent. That would make Winston Peters – not Andrew Little – the next political leader on the Governor-General’s calling list in the event that John Key proves unable assemble a parliamentary majority.
 
Should this eventuate, the task confronting Mr Peters would be hugely challenging. His party could only have been lifted into leadership contention on a surging wave of populist anger. Mr Peters could hardly fail to recognise the parallels with 1996. Twenty-one years ago, his decision to throw in his lot with National nearly destroyed NZ First. How likely is it that he would risk a similar outcome in 2017?
 
That would leave Labour, the Greens, and very possibly the Maori Party holding the seats necessary to form a government.
 
Who would Mr Peters call first? Probably the leader of the Labour Party. But who would that be? Almost certainly not Mr Little. Having so thoroughly humiliated his party, the chances are high that Mr Little would have resigned the leadership on Election Night. That would have forced his caucus colleagues to petition Labour’s governing council for the right to elect a temporary leader – someone to conduct negotiations with the other parties. Who would that leader be? Grant Robertson? Phil Twyford? David Parker?  Whoever it was, he would not be holding a winning hand.
 
Who would Mr Peters talk to next?
 
If Labour’s support was seen to crumble during the election campaign, many of its more left-wing supporters, disillusioned and demoralised, would have deserted the party for the Greens. Depending on the scale of that desertion: trickle or flood; the Greens’ Party Vote could easily have risen to roughly equal that of Labour’s. The negotiations between Mr Peters and the Greens’ co-leaders, Metiria Turei and James Shaw, would not be short or easy. To whom, for example, should Mr Peters offer the Deputy-Prime Minister’s post? A Labour MP or a Green?
 
And what about the Maori Party? With Labour’s support crumbling across-the-board, the chances of a Maori-Mana clean sweep of the Maori seats would be high. But, with the memories of what happened the last time there was a clean sweep of the Maori seats at the front of his mind, how keen would Mr Peters be to include Maori-Mana in his government? (Especially a Maori-Mana Party presided over by his old foe Tukuorangi Morgan?)
 
How easy would it be to keep all these parties headed in the same direction? How long could such a coalition hold together?
 
Mr Peters would not be the only one pondering these questions. Nearly all of the news media would be urging him to maintain the economic and political stability of the nation by throwing in his lot with the party which, though badly mauled, still controlled the largest number of seats in the House of Representatives. Editors up and down the country would be urging Mr Peters to recognise National’s “moral mandate” to govern.
 
There would, of course, be a price which National would have to pay in order to retain the Treasury Benches. Mr Peters’ ancestors would have called it “utu” – revenge – for the humiliations of 2008. In return for NZ First’s 25 seats, National would have to surrender up the heads of Mr Key and Steven Joyce – the “hit-men” of 2008. And, in recognition of NZ First’s role in seismically shifting the tectonic plates of New Zealand’s policy environment, the National caucus would also have to agree to its leader, Winston Peters, becoming the 39th Prime Minister of New Zealand.
 
Not just the Kingmaker – but the King.
 
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 9 September 2016.

21 comments:

jh said...

Labour needs to take it's Standard commentors ("the Voice of The Labour Movement") and put them in a recycle bin. The Party has too much baggage. It has become a failed experiment of political correctness.
......
One problem NZ First will have is a growing membership with different expectations as I see Dime on Kiwiblog is signing up. After all we all have different ideas about what is New Zealand.
Party's are shells and when a group take over (as in The Greens) they head in unexpected directions.

Polly said...

Chris, well done a first class political thriller.
To survive perhaps Labour should devolve themselves and all join NZF and Winnie, I do not think there is any precedent for such an action but Labour looks as if it has lost its socialist zeal and simply wants to go through life with a National Lite agenda.
Labour adherents keep saying (The Standard) that Winnie hate's the NATS and will choose the LabGreens as his choice of coalition partner(s).
That seems to me to be 'a wing and a prayer' opinion without factual base.
Winnie is playing an absolutely tight hand in regard to future coalition partners and if Shane Jones joins NZF and stands for a Northern seat then LabGreens will have little chance with coalition with NZF as Shanes Jones detests the Greens and some elements and old enemies in Labour.

King maker Winnie will be pondering what is best for himself and his party.
Shane jones will be pondering a resignation from his sinecure.
John Key will be pondering what he can give to Winnie.
Andrew little, Metiria Turei and James Shaw will all be pondering and praying.

Dennis Frank said...

There was a 2% shift away from the Nats last summer, followed by a further 2% in winter. These centrists will go with National when everything seems okay: they move out when things look dubious. They'll go to NZ First if a centre-left option isn't available. Therefore the longer it takes for Labour & the Greens to deliver substance to the promise of their MoU, the more the scenario you have outlined becomes feasible.

Ultimately the next election outcome will be produced by the viability of a center-left government in waiting. If centrists can see the shape of it in the run-up to the campaign, it will loom as a genuine alternative. You're right that the PM will be produced by the numbers, and I've also seen the three-way split as a likely outcome. However the economy is steady as she goes, we currently lack any trigger to stampede the centrists sideways, and so the most realistic outcome at this stage is further incremental drift in that direction...

Grant said...

Chris. *Tukuroirangi (sp)

@jh. The Standard.org is many things, not all of them pleasant. However it does not belong to the Labour Party or any subset thereof; nor does it act as a mouthpiece for Labour policy, other than on the occasions when individuals express their support and loyalty for Labour policy at which point other authors and commentors often pitch in and express disagreement. How then would the Labour Party exert control or influence over The Standard or any of its authors or commentors? If this is a typical example of your ability to understand and analyse matters political then you need another hobby.

The 'Labour Movement' encompasses the broader left from radical to (debatably) centrist and the left wing commentors include people from Labour, Green and Mana parties along with a smattering of NZ First and mavericks who don't claim a party allegiance but hold to a more or less 'left wing' world view.

@Chris. I don't know if your alternative universe will ever materialise. Winston may well get to play some part in a future Govt. He has before and may well do so again. His Party is ideologically problematic in my view however. If the Labour Party contains a fault line between 'wets' and 'drys' which marks the true centerline in NZ politics (a thesis I seem to recall you have promulgated yourself?), then it is probably also true that a similar demarcation line exists within NZ First between socially conservative / nationalist ex Labour people representing the old Labour movement and their socially conservative nationalist ex National Party colleagues representing farmers and small business owners who admired the kind of conservative governance dished up by the likes of Holyoake and Muldoon. Such a party makes a great social club for the disillusioned and angry who "want their country back", but it doesn't make for a cohesive political force if it ever takes a place on the Govt. benches and gets a chance to turn policy into law.

The main political purpose for the NZ First party is as a vehicle for those who are thoroughly pissed off to register their pissed-offedness. It is the Brexit option. It is the Trump option. It is the 'up yours' to the establishment option. Very funny really because it represents the people who were the establishment thirty years ago.

peter petterson said...

Best piece of science fiction I have read for a long time Chris - you wish!

Gerrit said...

Key (or Judith Collins) have another option if 2017 is as predicted with Labour on 20%, NZL on 20% and the green on 9%. That is not be the government. Let NZF be a minority government, sit on the opposition benches and wait to see how long NZF would last.

National does not have to form a government. Sure Winston would be PM but how would he pass legislation?

With Labour all but gone from the scene a new election could well stir up the electorate to give a fresh majority mandate to National.

As they say interesting times.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Winnie hate's the NATS "

Winston seems to hate everyone. Admittedly it's probably maybe mostly rhetoric, but he's made pretty nasty comments about the Greens, about the Maori party, and Labour. I think he probably does reserve his visceral hatred for National though, considering they deep sixed him largely over his Maori policy which was in fact quite respectable. And wasn't it Holyoke who said he "wasn't very good under the high ball."? A distinctly racist comment if common at the time.

Jens Meder said...

....unless Labour takes up progressive Social Democratic leadership the 3rd way - upwards FOR ALL via meaningful wealth ownership BY ALL !! ?

greywarbler said...

jh
Greens directions can be expected, have been spelt out for years.
Labour Party and The Standard are two different entities.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
@ GS I thought it was the Tight Five that sunk Winston in that era rather than a deep six.
Cheers David J S

aberfoyle said...

N.Z.First,has one foundation and that is Winnie,when he trades his suits for shorts and polo tops it will be all over for N.z. First,as most of their members shall slink back to the farm paddock that is National.

Winston,has shown that he is slippery as a eel in long grass, when it comes to who HE,chooses to go with.If Labour and Greens,need him they will in all out desperation offer him more than the Nats,and for Winston,deputy and Leader bounce he would find not to shabby however unprecedented.

pdm said...

Your scenario appears to omit one other option - National forming a coalition with Labour to foil Peters.

Not palatable but, a pragmatic option if National is on say 37% and Labour on 18/20%.

jh said...

Grant Says:
The Standard or any of its authors or commentors? If this is a typical example of your ability to understand and analyse matters political then you need another hobby.
.......
That's hardly my fault, afterall we don't know what our politicians stand for. They have shiny apples out the front and dirty books under the counter.
Why would I think The Standard is The Labour Party?: (Actually not the Labour Party but a dominent faction) Because there is no one in the labour party who I recognise as having similar interests to my own (Shane Jones perhaps, I approve of the fact he watches blue movies but not his helping Bill Lui). Maybe David Shearer but he reminds me of a dignitary in a suit who overturns the first clod. I first became aware of Andrew little when I switched on Parliament and here is this chap moowing like a cow over giving "succour" to refugees (they never get their "succour" in andrew littles neighborhood - he just gets the accolades). Last election David Cunliffe apologised for being a man and when they lost James Dann of Multicultural (fewer New Zealanders) Aotearoa wrote an open letter saying he should go as he didn't want to keep loosing.

jh said...

NZ First has no infrastructure. As far as I can see only Winston has much talent. If Winston went the demand would still be there.
It is only recently there has been much noise about immigration. The ship had to sink until the water started flooding the upper decks. The New New Zealand is the legacy of Labour, National and the Greens. At issue is the well being of (original) New Zealanders and the benefits to those New Zealanders whose interests those politicians were charged to protect. "New" New Zealanders benefited but (forgetting about them) those in the property construction and associated non-tradeables benefitted, however these industries have no way of making everyone else better off. Meanwhile we suffer a loss of national identity, we have undreamed of traffic problems, we loose the back yard. In short we have a politically sanctioned invasion. And we have an Orwellian institutionalisation of public discourse: a legacy of Labour and the Greens.

jh said...

Does anyone understand the polls on immigration?

Polls asking "should we reduce the number of migrants": about 60%
Polls that ask less; about right; more: 57% "about right" + "more"??

Maybe when push comes to shove "about right" is dominated by "reduce"?

jh said...

"We expect GDP lifted a whopping 1.2 per cent over the June quarter, led by construction, manufacturing and retail activity," ASB senior economist Jane Turner writes in her preview.
.........
but GDP per capita is only .8 and that increase isn't even. Also GDP is just a measure of total economic activity which includes a police chase, cleaning up an oil spill, traffic accident's etc. So where does that leave us?

jh said...

and one other thing related to GDP is the cost of bad (cheap/ shoddy) building. While they like to talk about "starter homes" that is affective language as the reality is that these homes will be lived in by a low paid worker who will either put up with their faults or try to improve them and blow a lot of money (architects costing $Z/ hr).

Chris Trotter said...

To: Jens Meder.

Lengthy discussions about the role of capital in the growth of civilisation are, as I told you before, Jens, best confined to your own blog.

I will not have them on mine.

Charles E said...

Chris if Peters were to get 20% I expect a majority of the extra 9% would have come from Labour (as with the latest poll). But in my opinion that would be the chance for NZ to be more like Germany where our problematic (because we are not German, ie sober & sensible) MMP system was copied from. We could have a grand coalition at last, which if successful could be the best government in our history. Yes even better than the current one which surely is very arguably the current best ever, not that I expect anyone on this blog to agree.
I would vote for that since I think only National and Labour (still) are fit to govern. To have NZF or the Greens in power here is as awful a prospect as Trump in the Whitehouse. And similar. Both NZF and NZG are cult-like, as is the Trump lot: One is a nasty little narcissist's cult & the other an irrationalists' / animists' pseudo-religious cult.

jh said...

I would vote for that since I think only National and Labour (still) are fit to govern.
.....
SWG Report:
The Government’s role
Clearly, there are serious questions to be asked about New Zealand’s economic policy and how we got into this mess. Why was it not better designed and managed, and more focussed, coordinated and strategic? Did the electorate simply get what it voted for, without realising what was really happening, or have New Zealanders not been well served over the years?

http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/savingsworkinggroup/pdfs/swg-report-jan11.pdf

Like any public policy in the area of housing, it's always a delicate balance between being effective in trying to slow prices going up, and making sure you don't have some catastrophic reaction you're not expecting," Key said.
http://www.interest.co.nz/news/83557/pm-says-wary-policy-action-could-cause-catastrophic-slump-housing-market-points-australia

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Yes even better than the current one which surely is very arguably the current best ever, not that I expect anyone on this blog to agree."
Quite right. Neither do all those people who have to live in their cars.