Muller’s resignation has election implications for the smaller parties as well as for the Nats

So is the election   now  a  foregone  conclusion?  With    Jacindamania  still raging,  and the  National Party shattered  by  its  own shambolic  performance,   it  looks  like  a   walk in the  park  for  the Labour Party  and  its   coalition  partners.

Certainly  NZ  First   leader  Winston  Peters  wasn’t   slow   to rub  salt  into  the  wounded  Nats.

After  a  cursory  nod to  National’s departed  leader  Todd Muller   (“ a  good man”), Peters  said:

National has demonstrated to voters as clearly as it is able that it cannot govern itself.  During a time of crisis, when stability and real experience is what the country needs from its politicians and their parties, National’s instability and hubris takes it out of the running for the coming General Election.”

Swinging   the boot  a  bit harder,  Peters  went  on:

Leading a divided and incompetent caucus would have tested even the best leader.

“The National caucus now has the unenviable job of selecting its fourth leader since the Coalition Government took office.

“The National caucus, like too many parties in parliament, lacks business experience, life experience and political experience. Heaven only knows who will be the next cab off the ranks selected to lead such a dispirited and incompetent lot.

“Todd never had a chance given the fault lines of ambition, personality, and ideology that run deep through the National Party caucus.”

This  much  is   clear:   we   can safely   draw  the conclusion   Peters  thinks he won’t  have to  make a  choice  of   coalition  partners   once  voters  have made their  decision.

But  how  will  NZ  First   itself   fare?   Recent   polling has  had  it  well  below the  5%  threshold.  Many of those   who voted  for  it  in 2017  have  become   disillusioned  with it  as an ally  of  Labour.

Does it   think   one-time National  voters  will now  flock   to  it?

Peters   himself,  after  recovery  from  keyhole  surgery, promises to  be  “fighting  fit”   for the election campaign.  And  he  has  displayed  remarkable  stamina   for  a  man in his   76th year.

But  the  problem  for  NZ  First  is  that   it   may  not  have  much  appeal  to  that bloc of  voters  eager to  ensure  there  is a brake  on a  Labour-Green  coalition,  if it  appears  Labour  will get a  majority on its own, or close to  it.

As   for  the  Greens,  they   too  might  be battling  to  break  the   5%   threshold,  since  Ardern’s  popularity  has inevitably    drawn   some   one-time   Green  voters  back towards  Labour.

Analysis   by political  scientist   Bryce  Edwards   has suggested the Green Party could go from helping Jacinda Ardern run the country to being turfed out of Parliament altogether in ten weeks.

Edwards says the Greens have been consistently polling precariously close to the 5% threshold needed by parties who don’t hold an electorate seat.  In fact, since the last election which saw the Greens win 6.3% of the vote and become part of the Labour-led government, their polling has been stuck below that level.

They have recorded an average of only 5.7% by the country’s two main polling companies.  And since the start of the year, this average has been trending downwards to just 5.4%.

Unfortunately for the Greens, they consistently do worse in elections than their polling predicts.”

As  Point of  Order   sees it,    the  Green  Party’s  policy,  including  the  idea of  a  “wealth tax” , won’t  do  much to  attract    voters   who previously  voted  National  and  are  currently disillusioned  with its  leadership  shambles.

Could  the present electoral scenario   offer  an  opening for   small  parties  on  the right to  rise  above  the  5%  threshold?

ACT,  for  example,   has  been  inching  up   in the polls   over the past  12  months,  and its  leader  David  Seymour    is  now  a  respected    figure  for   his  work  on  the euthansia  legislation.

At the  party’s  campaign  launch  ACT  made a  play   for   single-vote  groups   as  in  the gun-owning lobby.  But it has also   put up   interesting  new policy  such  as   employment-insurance   which could have  broad  appeal,  come  September,   when the ranks  of  the  unemployed   may be soaring  because  of the pandemic-induced  recession.

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