Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup:  Why Jacinda Ardern’s resignation changes everything

  • Dr Bryce Edwards writes:

Should New Zealand have a snap election? That’s one of the questions arising out of the chaos of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s shock resignation.

There’s an increased realisation that everything has changed, and the old plans and assumptions for election year have suddenly evaporated. So, although Ardern has named an election date of 14 October there’s some good reason for the new prime minister to bring that forward to, say, March.

The big issue is one of electoral mandates. Will New Zealanders feel that Prime Minister Chris Hipkins – or whoever is chosen on Sunday – has a truly legitimate right to govern the country? Of course, constitutionally and legally the new PM will be able to govern – the role of PM is merely the choice of the ruling party. And, when Bill English took over from John Key a year out from the 2017 election, there was no expectation that an early election was necessary. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup:  Why Jacinda Ardern’s resignation changes everything”

Ardern government takes a dive, but Jackson’s acrobatics  are even more spectacular

The  Ardern Government  has  taken a hammering  in recent days.

The weird aspect is that it has largely done the damage to itself, with the Opposition left only to rub salt into the ugly wounds.

Pollsters have been on hand to measure the extent of the harm done.

First out this week was the  OneNews Kantar, which put Labour at 33%, behind National on 38%.

Then came Roy Morgan with Labour on 25.5% and  National on 38%.

The Hamilton West  byelection is  to  round  things off  on Saturday. Continue reading “Ardern government takes a dive, but Jackson’s acrobatics  are even more spectacular”

Bryce Edwards: Can NZ First once again fill the vacuum at the centre of politics

DR BRYCE EDWARDS,  director of the Democracy Project, looks into support for New Zealand First in opinion polls, the politicking of Winston Peters and the party’s 2023 general election prospects.  

They don’t get much media coverage at the moment, but the New Zealand First party could be central to the next year in politics and determine the shape of the next government.
The latest opinion survey out yesterday – leaked from Labour-aligned pollsters Talbot-Mills – has New Zealand First on 4.4 per cent. The party has been edging up in the polls all year. The last few Kantar-1News polls have had the party on 3 per cent.
This level of support is relatively high for the party, which tends to do poorly between election years and then have a surge of support during campaigns. So, it’s certainly not out of the question that Winston Peters’ party could soon register 5 per cent and suddenly become a real force in next year’s election.
This would change everything. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards: Can NZ First once again fill the vacuum at the centre of politics”

Why we are puzzled by the polls and what they are telling us about prospects of the Nats and ACT forming a government

Here’s a  political  conundrum:   why  aren’t   Opposition  parties  doing better in the  opinion polls?

National’s  leadership  has  settled  in, and it’s fair to say support for the Nats has increased since Christopher Luxon replaced Judith Collins.  But the gains have been at the expense of ACT.

And  together,  the two parties  are not  polling  well  enough  to  form a  government on  their own.

It will be worth watching to see if ACT does better after  holding an upbeat  conference last weekend,  oozing confidence levels which  party leader  David  Seymour  might  not  have  recognised  just  five or  so years  ago.

But meanwhile it might take only the suggestion of  a  success  or  two  for  the  government to  turn  around  the  slump  in its  fortunes.

So  far  there  is  no  sign  of that turnaround.

A  government   which began with a  show  of  capability,  if  not in a  blaze  of  glory, is  now finding  that  almost everything  it  touches   fades  into  ashes  so  quickly that   there  is  nothing, or  very little, to see. Continue reading “Why we are puzzled by the polls and what they are telling us about prospects of the Nats and ACT forming a government”

Cost of living accounts for some (maybe much) of the shrinkage in support for Labour – but is co-governance a factor, too?

Latest  polling  has  underlined  how  support  for the  government has  eroded  almost  as  fast  as inflation has hit  New Zealand  households.

Both polls  have  National  ahead  of  Labour.  The  difference  is  that the Roy Morgan poll (for  the  fifth time  in a  row)  points to  a  change of  a government  while  the  Newshub-Reid  Research sampling   has  National  only two  points  ahead  of  Labour.

This means that  even with  ACT’s  support, the Nats are still  trailing  parties  of the  Left.

But what stands  out  starkly in  both polls is  how  far Labour’s  support  has  fallen since  it  swept  the  deck in the  last  election.

Equally,  the  polling  underlines  how  well Christopher  Luxon  has  done in  re-energising National  since  he  took  on the  leadership, despite  his  relative inexperience in Parliament and  the  critical exposure   he  gets in  the  state-subsidised  mainstream media.

Here are  the  details  of  the two  poll results  (as  reported  by that expert pollster David  Farrar): Continue reading “Cost of living accounts for some (maybe much) of the shrinkage in support for Labour – but is co-governance a factor, too?”

Firing the flops in her Cabinet (we suggest) might spark a return to the fold of 2020 voters who have cooled to the PM

So  what’s  happened  to  the  widely admired  crisis management  skills that  elevated  Jacinda Ardern   so  far above  other New Zealand  politicians and  won her re-election in 2020 with  a 50-year  record result for Labour?

She sounded almost  forlorn  as  she  spoke  on Monday of  how Covid  will  increase  “and  rapidly”  and  conceded “there  will be  disruption and  pressure  from Omicron”.

Just  as 2019   was  to be the “year of delivery” and 2021 the “year of the vaccine”, this is to  be  the  “year  of  moving  forward”.   But  moving forward to  what?

Well,  once Covid  reaches its peak and starts to come down, she says

“… we can start to move towards a life that feels a little more like a new normal that we can all live with”. 

Oh dear.

Ardern   says her  primary goal is to manage Covid with few restrictions and accelerate the economic recovery while continuing to ensure that lives and livelihoods are protected.

She  sounded positively elegiac in this  final  stanza: Continue reading “Firing the flops in her Cabinet (we suggest) might spark a return to the fold of 2020 voters who have cooled to the PM”

The Big Boost aimed to combat Covid but Ngāti Hauā have been given a boost, too – $1.12m to grow a blueberry business

The first ministerial press statement posted on the Beehive website after Point of Order had published its latest roundup of Beehive news dealt with something the government grandly dubbed The Big Boost.

No, this was not another boost for farmers or growers from Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor (although he was busy dishing out $1.12 million from his ministry’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to a Waikato-based Maori tribe, Ngati Haua).

The Big Boost on which we are focussed was an exercise in vaccination, booster shots and  – let’s face it – political hype, if not propaganda.

“New Zealanders have rolled up their sleeves in droves as part of The Big Boost nationwide call to action – but we’re not done yet, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

“As predicted, Omicron cases are increasing across New Zealand and it’s critical we get as many people as possible boosted in February to slow the spread of the virus and protect our communities…”

The timing was a tad unfortunate.  On the same day Family First published the results of a nationwide poll which found –  Continue reading “The Big Boost aimed to combat Covid but Ngāti Hauā have been given a boost, too – $1.12m to grow a blueberry business”

Ardern and her team will be tested as NZ adjusts to new economic realities in the wake of Covid

Latest opinion  polling  suggests the  political mood is  still  coloured  by  the  pandemic,  with  support  for  the Prime  Minister  and  her  party remaining  strong.

Yet uncertainty  about economic   trends points  to  the  risks that  will have to be navigated  through the  next  12  months.  Will inflation  burn  out of control? How  will  the  tourist  industry  recover?  Will   the  surge in  house  prices flatten out?  May  the  trend in  growing  inequality reverse?

Through  all  the  uncertainty, the  faith  in  the Prime  Minister  remains unshakable. Any regular  reader  of  the “letters  to the  editor” columns  in  newspapers  will be  familiar with  how  any  criticism  of Jacinda Ardern  is  met with a  volley  of  responses  from  those who  ascribe  to her the  power  of  defeating Covid in its different  variants, and preventing  New  Zealanders  from suffering  the  rate of  fatalities experienced  in the  UK, Australia  or  the  US. Continue reading “Ardern and her team will be tested as NZ adjusts to new economic realities in the wake of Covid”

The PM loses her halo in assessment of ministers – but how did Sepuloni earn her higher rating?

Latest   polling    showed   Labour’s  rating    at 41%,  down  2 points from the  previous  sampling. Significantly,  it  charted  Prime Minister  Jacinda Ardern’s  rating  slipping  even  faster,  to  39%  or  5 points lower.

The trend  confirmed  what  some of  the  country’s  top political journalists (Barry  Soper  of  Newstalk ZB   and Audrey Young  of  the  NZ  Herald) had   already  been  telling their   audiences: that  Jacinda  Ardern’s  halo  had floated  out  to  sea.

In  fact  Audrey Young, in  a  recent   article   on  how  cabinet  ministers have been performing, gave Ardern   only  7  out  of  ten, down 1  from  the  previous rankings  six months  ago.

The  slippage  may  have  accelerated, given that Ardern’s  excusing Auckland’s tardy emergence  to  freedom is  causing  immense  frustration  among  Aucklanders. That   frustration   was  compounded when  Ardern chose  to flip  in  and out  of  Auckland,  using  an RNZAF  757 jet  for the  flight  from Wellington (hey,  no  worry  about the  carbon  emissions, even  though Cop 26  was  in  session  at the  time).

But  back  to  Audrey  Young’s   Cabinet ratings:  what put  her assessment of  Ardern’s  fall  from the  heights into perspective is  that  she  rated   seven   ministers  as  doing  better—-

  • 9/10: Robertson (no change), Sepuloni (+2), O’Connor (+5); and
  • 8/10: Little (-1), Henare (+1), Wood (-1), Shaw (no change).

What  might have  upset  Ardern fans  even  more  was  that the PM was  placed  alongside Phil Twyford, and William Aupito Sio,  not  to  mention  Kiri Allan who had  spent  months  recovering  after treatment  for  cancer.

Of  course   those  fans  might  have  cited  Carmel  Sepuloni  being  given  a  9  out of ten  as    showing something awry with Audrey Young’s judgement.

Lindsay Mitchell, on  her  blog, pointed out   just how  well Sepuloni  had  actually  performed  in the social  welfare  field.

These  are the ministry’s own progress indicators:

  • Average future years on a benefit have increased from 10.6 years in 2017 to 12.4 years
  • Median time to house clients has increased from 54 days to 168 days
  • Percentage of clients who exit a benefit who return to it within one years – increased from 51% to 69%
  • Client net trust score dropped in the last year from +43 to +40.

Point  of  Order   has  difficulty seeing  Nanaia Mahuta  given a  7  out  of  ten  ranking. Her  bludgeoning of local  bodies  in her  Three  Waters policy  demonstrates  a  total  disregard  for  democratic  values.

And  how could Marama  Davidson  rank  alongside Megan  Woods, Stuart  Nash,  or  Ayehsa  Verrall?   Some   would assert   Verrall,  in  her  first  term  in Parliament,  has  shown  a  range  of  skills    that  marks  her  out   for a  senior  portfolio  in  the  next term .

In  any  case,  there   is  plenty   to  chew  over, as  ministers  (and the  country)  enter  the  final  weeks  of  what  history might  mark  as  a  difficult  year  for  politicians  of  all stripes, but  especially  its leaders.


Holding the govt to account takes a curious toll – Nats sink in the polls and Collins rethinks her 2018 views on quitting

The hounds of the parliamentary press gallery are smelling Nat blood.

More particularly, they are smelling the blood of National Party leader Judith Collins, who is reported to be shrugging off talk of a leadership challenge.

Poor polls – she contends – are due to her party holding the Government to account.


Holding the Government to account explains why a recent opinion poll shows the party’s popularity sinking to just 21 per cent?

We wonder if something might be missing from that analysis and that inadequately holding the government to account might be a factor in the Nats’ poor poll showing and the rise (comparatively) of  ACT and David Seymour. Continue reading “Holding the govt to account takes a curious toll – Nats sink in the polls and Collins rethinks her 2018 views on quitting”