NZ politics in 2020: The big issues on which this year’s election will hinge

To complete our series looking back at 2019 and peering into 2020, we asked our political sleuths to nominate the three issues that could make the difference in this year’s election.

Alex Braae

  1. Many polls indicate that if Labour is to keep leading the government, it will be in charge of a coalition. There could be quite a few voters who would rather not see another such arrangement, which could push swing voters to National, if it’s looking like being easily the largest party.
  2. A hell of a lot of young people became politicised this year through the issue of climate change. Their continued participation (or otherwise) in politics could end up mattering a lot.
  3. There’s a segment of the voting public that could theoretically swing anywhere between ACT, NZ First, National, New Conservative, or Hannah Tamaki’s Vision NZ party. Where they end up coalescing will have profound impacts on the election result, especially for those parties that need to clear 5%.

Linda Clark

  1. Delivery – did they or didn’t they?
  2. Who are voters willing to trust in troubled times?
  3. Climate change – who has a plan that’s believable?

Emma Espiner

  1. Those bloody referendums.
  2. The economy. It’s always the economy.
  3. Perceptions around the use of propaganda and internet advertising voodoo. Who can you trust!? (Spoiler: None of them. It’s politics.)

Morgan Godfery

  1. The economy.
  2. Health and education.
  3. The National Party social media team’s lies.

Liam Hehir

  1. The marijuana referendum: will younger people flock to the polls in the hopes of making it legal?
  2. The assisted suicide referendum: will older people flock to the polls for fear of being pressured into an early meeting with the grim reaper?
  3. The economy, I guess.

Stephen Jacobi

  1. Housing.
  2. Poverty and homelessness.
  3. Health.

Annabelle Lee

I’d like to think it will be poverty, climate change and equity but it will probably be:

  1. Boomer stuff.
  2. Cannabis reform.
  3. Gone By Lunchtime’s powerful analysis.

Toby Manhire

  1. The government’s ability to deliver a tangible lift in economic health for lower- and middle-income New Zealanders – and put a tangible dent in child poverty.
  2. The risk of a coalition implosion as parties strive to differentiate, or an opposition implosion born of a late leadership challenge.
  3. Advertising, truth and lies.

Danyl Mclauchlan

  1. Leadership. Which will win out? The torrents of fear-mongering, disinformation and lies vomiting from Simon Bridges’ mouth, or Jacinda Ardern’s heartfelt promises that if re-elected she’ll abolish sadness because she believes in the power of dreams?
  2. The margins. Does either of the minor parties go under? Does ACT win additional seats? Do any new parties or a resurrected Māori Party win anything? Small variations in small party votes can lead to massively different outcomes because of the current configuration of the MMP system.
  3. The stability of the coalition.

Shane Te Pou

  1. Cost of living.
  2. Leadership (the Jacinda factor).
  3. Climate change.

Claire Robinson

  1. Which major party has the numbers to form a coalition.
  2. Whether more people think the economy is improving vs getting worse.
  3. Will Winston Peters step down before or after the election?

Trish Sherson

  1. Winston Peters.
  2. Apathy.
  3. Disenchantment.

The Spinoff politics section is made possible by Flick, the electricity retailer giving New Zealanders power over their power. With both spot price and fixed price plans available, you can be sure you’re getting true cost and real choice when you join Flick. Support us by making the switch today.


The Spinoff is made possible by the generous support of the following organisations.
Please help us by supporting them.