Easy, breezy election year (Images: Jason Stretch, Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images, Greg Bowker/Getty Images, Tina Tiller)
Easy, breezy election year (Images: Jason Stretch, Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images, Greg Bowker/Getty Images, Tina Tiller)

The BulletinJanuary 17, 2023

Definitely not a sideshow, but could it be a sidecar election?

Easy, breezy election year (Images: Jason Stretch, Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images, Greg Bowker/Getty Images, Tina Tiller)
Easy, breezy election year (Images: Jason Stretch, Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images, Greg Bowker/Getty Images, Tina Tiller)

It’s an election year and consistent polling numbers from Act and the Greens creates a potentially interesting dynamic, while next week could provide a roaring start to the political year, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday morning, sign up here.

 

When will the election be?

Let’s start today’s edition, which looks at the early portion of the political year and associated commentary, with this fine piece of succinct data analysis from Toby Manhire. Headlined “Act Party goes hundies on summer releases”, it reveals just how many press releases each party sent over the break. The Act Party absolutely went hundies. With that covered, let’s get on with it. It’s an election year and Manhire has made his annual earnest attempt to establish when the election will be held. That prediction is available in both written and auditory form this year.

January 25 will be a big day for the government

While the first sitting of parliament isn’t until Valentine’s Day (not as incongruous as you might think), traditionally the political year starts with the Rātana celebrations (January  24 – 25). The first cabinet meeting is on January 25. That could be a very big day. We may get the announcement of the election date, a cabinet reshuffle, an indication of what policies will be “deprioritised” and we will get the Q4 inflation data. Stuff’s Thomas Manch details what we might be able to expect from the cabinet reshuffle and which policies will stay or go. I agree with him on all three of the picks he’s made for the ministerial portfolio shuffle.

What the two main parties need to focus on this year

Much of the political writing at this time of year is about what the parties must do to win the election. Stuff’s Luke Malpass looks at the key questions for National, writing that the party starts the new year in good shape but several questions around policy, positioning and Christopher Luxon’s campaigning chops remain. At the end of last year, Politik’s Richard Harman wrote (paywalled) that based on polling, Labour needs to convince at least another 10% of its total 2020 voters to stay loyal for 2022. “That is what will define next year’s politics”. Enter Henry Cooke, who writes the Museum Street newsletter. He’s used the New Zealand Election Study (NZES) to look at who Labour’s lost voters, or the swing voters, are. Great read, good graphs, big fan.

A sidecar election?

Stuff’s Bridie Witton reports that Act party leader David Seymour is prepared to sacrifice a ministerial position in government to pursue his party’s policy interests. The Green party is on a mission to increase its influence, but is still highly sceptical about working with National. At the end of last year Te Pāti Māori said they didn’t see themselves being part of a Labour or National government. And then of course there is New Zealand First (NZF), last polling at 3% in the 1 News-Kantar poll. Winston Peters has ruled out working with Labour. Simon Bridges ruled out working with New Zealand First in January 2019 at the National party retreat. National will meet soon in the Hawkes Bay and Luxon will be asked whether he too will rule out working with NZF.

To end, a column from Max Rashbrooke who asks whether the electorate is in the mood for radical change and a departure from what Chris Hipkins described as “radical incrementalism” and what Bill English described as “incremental radicalism”. Rashbrooke posits that with Act and the Greens consistently polling at around 10%, “we face what you might call a sidecar election” where “one or the other could win unprecedentedly large concessions from their centrist big sibling”.

Keep going!