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Election 2017 – The Winners  And Losers with Frank NewmanElection 2017 – The Winners And Losers with Frank Newman

The votes are in, but the nation waits. NZ First was the big winner on election night. Mr Peter’s has the aces up his sleeve, even though he lost his fortress electorate of Northland.

The winner and loser tag also applies to National and Labour: National because it won the most votes but lost two of its three coalition partners, and Labour because it increased its vote from 25% to 35%, but remains 12% adrift of National.

The biggest losers of the evening were the Maori Party, the Greens, and The Opportunities Party which fell well short of the five percent it needed to enter Parliament.

The election result is reflective of the truism that under MMP, when the major parties do well, the minor parties do badly. That was the story of the evening.

NZ First
Despite losing two MPs, Winston Peters will decide who is the next Prime Minister and the direction the country takes. Will he go with National or Labour, or will he take a third option to give confidence and supply to one and sit on the cross benches and dictate matters on an issue by issue basis? The general view is the latter is less likely, but opinion is divided on whether we will go with Labour or National.

A National coalition would certainly be easier, as it would not involve the problematic Greens, and may suit the longer term ambitions of NZ First which presumably is to be the centralist party in a Parliament of three parties.

Labour
Labour achieved its best result since 2005 with 35.8% of the party vote and has returned to the “normal” that existed before the rise of John Key and the Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe, and Little leadership failures.

The fact that Labour changed their leader just seven weeks out from an election shows how late they came to realise that their prospects with Andrew Little as leader were no better than they had been with David Cunliffe. But while Labour changed its leadership, it did not refresh its policies. Going into a campaign on a platform of new taxes was unwise and Jacinda Ardern made a tactical “captain’s call” blunder to put capital gains tax on the agenda only to back-track and flip-flop on its implementation.

While Labour may well cobble together a coalition and become government , three years in opposition would give Ardern the time to establish her credentials as a Prime Minister in waiting, rewrite Labour’s policies to be more palatable for a broader electorate, and extend its reach into the Green vote. It needs to do all of these things if it is to match National’s share of the vote.

The Greens
Despite the appearances of an election night celebration, the Greens will know the election result is a serious blow. Their party vote has fallen from 10.7% to 5.9% and half the number of MPs from 14 to 7 (although they are likely to gain another after the special votes are counted).

The days of the Greens profiting from a beleaguered Labour Party are clearly over. Their support has now returned to its core voter base, and they are vulnerable to being ousted from Parliament completely in 2020 if Labour continues to out-green the Greens.

Maori representation
The upset result of the evening was Labour’s clean sweep of the seven Maori seats, elbowing the Maori Party out of Parliament and shutting the door on Hone Hariwera. On election night, the Maori Party gained only 15,103 party votes from the seven Maori seats, or just 12% of Maori roll voters, despite the Maori Party extracting significant gains from its coalition with National.

National
Bill English was a clear winner from the campaign, even though National was not. In the last two weeks of the campaign his presence grew from being a respected Finance Minister to a likeable Prime Minister. That was a surprise to most commentators. National has shown it can work with parties like Act and the Maori Party, so it should have no problem embracing Mr Peters, should he entertain their affections.

Disappearing Act
Act gained 0.5% of the party vote, or just 10,959 votes. It has been unable to develop a policy platform that would attract former Act voters despite there being any number of policy opportunities for them to do so. The question for the Act leadership is, why bother? Is the Party content to merely support their sole MP in a well-paid job, or do they want to convince at least 5% of voters to support the principles upon which the party was formed?

TOP
The failure of The Opportunities Party to gain significant support yet again shows that money alone cannot buy representation. The simple truth is TOP had policies that were more plausible in a science lab’ than the real world. It has no future, either with or without Gareth Morgan as its leader.

So who won? National, Bill English, Jacinda Ardern, Labour, NZ First.

Who lost? Greens, Act, United Future, Maori Party, Hone Hariwera, Winston Peters in Northland.


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