Election 2017: Let the campaigning begin...

by RNZ / 13 February, 2017

The date that has been set for the 2017 election won't have surprised many politicians, with opposition parties already setting their plans in motion, writes Jane Patterson.

Mark it in your diary - New Zealand will go to the polls on 23 September.

That Saturday has been the most widely-picked date, and will take place almost three years to the day since the 2014 election.

Before he resigned as Prime Minister, John Key dropped hints about a September election. Bill English has stuck to that timetable.

To go much earlier would have opened the party up to criticism it was panicking, and that it feared Mr English could not hold, or attract, the attention of voters for that many months.

He will want to give himself as much time as possible to settle in as Prime Minister, and have as many photo opportunities as possible with world leaders at international events, all of which helps build the "prime ministerial" image.

Political parties get punished for going to the polls too early without a good reason, and, alongside the risk of lower turnouts, there is little enthusiasm among politicians to be out and about during an election campaign braving winter rain and wind.

Opposition parties would have started their planning around a September election, so they would not have been caught off balance.

In fact, while Mr English was still in his media conference and only minutes after he had named the date, Labour put out a media release "Bring it on - we're ready to fight for what matters", obviously pre-written and ready to go.

They and the Greens will want to use the next seven months to boost leader profiles and hope the government will be hurt by scandal and voter fatigue with a third-term National Party.

Mr English is following his predecessor's election-year script by indicating National's preferred partners - no surprise there - ACT, United Future and the Maori Party.

Ever aware of the fine balance under MMP, Mr English is leaving the door open for an "unlikely" partnership with New Zealand First.

He cannot afford to shut out New Zealand First and its mercurial leader Winston Peters altogether, with the fortunes of National's three support partners by no means secure.

Mr English needs to brush up on his courting skills.

In the same breath as naming them as a possible partner, Mr English compared New Zealand First unfavourably to his own party, which he described as "outward looking and open to investment" (Translation: National is not anti-immigration and xenophobic - accusations it has levelled at New Zealand First in the past).

The news briefing had the feel of a campaign stump speech, with Mr English extolling the virtues of his stable and economically successful party, and lashing into Labour and the Greens for being on the "far left" (Translation: terrible at managing the economy).

Mr English took things further and ripped into the Greens after questions about when the two parties worked together in the past on the home insulation initiative.

He laid out a litany of complaints about how they did not like to share credit and were "nasty" about National Party leaders.

None of that worries the Greens too much, with one MP shrugging it off as a sign National was rattled.

Welcome to election year.

 

 

This article was originally published by RNZ.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Density done well: Q&A with economist Shamubeel Eaqub
Is menstrual suppression the solution to period pain?
69711 2017-03-28 00:00:00Z Health

Is menstrual suppression the solution to period pa…

by Ruth Nichol

As a feminist, Tara Forde has always tried to be “period positive” – to celebrate menstruation as normal, natural and healthy, but after years of pain

Read more
Film review: Loving
Crossword 1020 answers and explanations
Importing a workforce - 10 years of seasonal workers
69870 2017-03-27 12:54:43Z Economy

Importing a workforce - 10 years of seasonal worke…

by Philippa Tolley

As demand increases for migrant employees in New Zealand so do fears about how the overseas workers are being treated.

Read more
The problem of how to replace school deciles
69865 2017-03-27 12:46:47Z Education

The problem of how to replace school deciles

by John Gerritsen

The school decile is not yet dead, but researchers are already thinking about how they will replace it with a new way of comparing schools and student

Read more
A winning design: Concept for future Ponsonby Park chosen
The new age of fire: Why infernos like Port Hills could become more common
69813 2017-03-27 00:00:00Z Social issues

The new age of fire: Why infernos like Port Hills …

by Rebecca Macfie

Infernos like the "unstoppable" Port Hills fires could happen more frequently in New Zealand as climate change worsens.

Read more