The Day After

On Sunday we woke up to – well pretty much the same flavour of government we had the day before, thanks to voter apathy and one or two quirks of fate. Although Prime Minister Key has predictably adopted the position of “business as usual”, the next three years look anything but usual.

Saturday’s election outcome was fairly consistent with what the polls had been predicting in the week prior. But the returning National government will need to tread warily and not drift too far right. With 48% backing from two thirds of the enrolled electorate meaning only 32% of the adult population has their support. If parties on the Left can better galvanise voters in 2014, the outcome may be very different.

There was some good news in that potentially disruptive, extremist political parties ACT and Mana had their support base obliterated. The one exception was Epsom where greed and stupidity seems to have prevailed. Even the Labour voters in that electorate wasted the opportunity to excise their controversial and divisive former mayor. It may be a moot point, with the ACT party imploding on election night and Banks set to become a National minister in all but name.

The other piece of good news was that the Greens achieved their goal of topping 10% in party votes. An astounding effort after intelligently repositioning themselves over the previous 18 months since the departure of some of their looney fringe elements. The Greens deserved these gains and I hope Key will continue the relationship which has already seen the adoption of some of their more sensible policies. The Greens were also the party that proposed a clean technology fund for New Zealand companies in their manifesto and who have made a commitment to clean up our cow shit infected waterways.

It’s clear that Europe isn’t out of the economic woods yet and China may be on the verge of deflating. A steady hand will be needed on the tiller in the medium term. National would do well to form an inclusive government that sets a cooperative tone for the challenges that lie ahead.

3 thoughts on “The Day After

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one disappointed (to put it mildly) with Epsom.

    It is interesting watching the Greens mainstream themselves. I’m wondering if Labour implodes, could the Greens step in and take over as the main middle class, leftish-but-centrist, liberal party? Or will they and a rebuilt Labour compete for that territory? Or will those two manage to share that territory? Either way, the more and stronger (and more rational!) a voice for cleaning up the environment and sustainable development, the better.

    I’m not as distrustful of Mana as you, though. I am wary, yes, but also curious. Since Labour long ago abandoned its working class roots and went all middle class intellectual, and with the Greens being very much a middle class movement, now going intellectual but with a strong hippy tradition, there doesn’t seem to be any party that actually represents the interests of the poor. By bringing a bunch of pakeha firebrand lefty professional activists in, Hone Harawira seems to be claiming this space. But will the attempted cold fusion of such large personalities result in rather spectacular fireworks? Or with only Harawira in parliament will Mana simply shrivel away, becoming to Harawira what United Future is to Peter Dunne? Or will they manage to hold it together and create a coherent voice for those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap? I’m hoping the third option comes true and the manage to play a constructive, if sometimes disruptive (the two are not mutually exclusive) role in getting the poor a voice in policy making. I suspect the second will be what happens, but we shall see.

    Act, I think, is a spent force. But let’s face it, they could never decide what they wanted to be. They started out all libertarian, but they kept bringing in reactionary populist social conservatives to try and boost their vote. The two are mutually exclusive, and the tension was bound to tear Act apart sooner or later. And a libertarian political party sounds a bit too much like an anarchist with a wristwatch, anyways.

    And now what will Winston do? It’s going to be an interesting three years.

    As for China maybe being on the verge of deflating, I dunno, it’s a big maybe. It’s certainly changing, and some of that change will involve deflation and bubble bursting in some areas (HOUSING!!!!!), but I see other areas where real growth could occur. Internal consumption certainly seems to be on the rise, instead of just production for export. Ready for Chinese brands going global? Chinese innovation? Chinese designed and built fully electric cars, for example? That last one I have seen on the roads, and there are plans to put the infrastructure (charging stations, etc) in place for a larger scale roll out of fully electric cars. We shall see.

  2. I totally agree Chris. Act is toast and Mana will almost certainly implode at some point in the future, given the personalities involved. If the Greens play their cards right, they could position as the natural opposition, provided they can continue to grow the support base. They have a rather uneasy alliance with National but (like the Maori Party) they are pragmatists and realise they can achieve more by being cooperative rather than combative.

    As for China, we are now seeing images in the media here of entire new cities that have been built and then abandoned through lack of uptake. A property bubble collapse could undermine much of the other progress you mentioned.

  3. The name Ordos springs to mind, but even here in Beijing the property bubble is insane. Can you imagine a town whose main street is lined with people hawking real estate – standing on the side of the road with armloads of brochures chasing down cars that look like they might stop? That’s what you’ll see in Yanjiao, in Hebei but just on the border with Beijing. And even though it’s in Hebei, almost all the cars have Beijing plates – refugees from Beijing’s property bubble creating another bubble in Hebei. And the same real estate hawkers work the downtown Beijing stops for the bus to Yanjiao intersections and many an intersection, walking along lines of cars stuffing pamphlets through windows. Crazy.

    And why are Chinese companies starting to sniff around NZ farms? Couldn’t have anything to do with China’s arable land disappearing to pollution and urbanisation and a desperate water shortage covering most of the country, could it?

    I just think the overall situation is far too complex to predict. And to bring it back to the NZ election – you’re right in that we’re going to need steady hands and cool heads in charge in the Beehive.

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