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Mythbusting: Winning a fourth term is impossible

Written By: - Date published: 4:24 pm, May 11th, 2008 - 50 comments
Categories: election 2008, history - Tags:

It has become a media mantra that winning a fourth term of government is nigh on impossible, but is that claim actually based on the record of past governments or just a political myth? 

The first government formed along party lines in New Zealand was the First Liberal Government, which took office in 1891. Since then, there have been thirteen party-based governments (twelve, if you count the 1928 United Government and the 1931 Reform-Liberal ‘National Coalition’ Government as the same government under a different name). Seven of them have faced an election to win a fourth term in Parliament. Four of those have succeeded in retaining power.

Those are pretty good odds: if a government wins a third term, it is more likely than not win a fourth term. That’s hardly a basis to say that winning a fourth term is rare or intrinsically unlikely. It certainly won’t be easy for Labour to win a fourth term but there is no reason to think the weight of history is against them.

Record of first term governments winning a second term: 9/13

Second term governments winning a third term: 8/9

Fourth term: 4/7

Fifth term: 2/4

Sixth term: 1/2

Seventh term: 1/1

Eighth term: 1/1

 

50 comments on “Mythbusting: Winning a fourth term is impossible”

  1. AncientGeek 1

    It is not only possible, but I’m coming to the conclusion that it is probable.

    There is no doubt that voters are generally grumpy at present, and a lot of that is directed at the government. Each tends to have a different reason, but there doesn’t appear to be any particular over-riding reason. With the exception of a noisy group around the blogs who appear to be largely from the Act end of the spectrum, there isn’t much widespread hostility. At least not in the order of what I saw in 1984, 1990 and 1999.

    The Nat’s haven’t exactly been presenting themselves as a credible government. Very little policy apart from me-too, no vision about how things could change for the better, and a disturbing sense that they live on the edge of falling apart through factionalisation.

    It is going to be a fun election.

    Oh if anyone bothers to raise the polls again, I’ll be happy to resume discussing how pathetic they are as a forecasting device.

  2. higherstandard 2

    Of course it’s not impossible it is however unlikely as NZ has not returned a fourth term government for over 40 years.

    While I suspect the continued economic statistics and accompanying hardships will be taken out on the current government come election time with or without the opposition presenting much in the way of policy due to their current quiescence being, I suspect, poll driven it would be interesting to see the popular response to their policy release which will no doubt be rolled out closer to the election in response to movement in the polls.

    And Yes AG I agree with you about the polls but the reality is in election year the politicians are driven by them to a large degree.

  3. AncientGeek 3

    Personally I don’t think that the politicians are obsessed with them. But the mainstream media certainly are. Seems to be a cheap way to get a headline story.

    Perhaps editors and journo’s should get some mandatory education in demographics and statistics. I wonder if they are given any in those journalism courses?

  4. higherstandard 4

    AG

    You are far to long in the tooth not to believe that both the major parties wouldn’t have looked very closely at the polls after blocking the AIA and the Toll purchase

  5. AncientGeek 5

    hs: Oh they’d have looked at them. They are interested in trends.

    But notice that I used the word “obsessed” quite specifically. What gets me is that way that the msm does things like saying “this is the way that parliament would look”, and then treating the polls if that is the way the final poll will turn out. As if comparing a poll of 892 people who have land-lines is in anyway comparable to to a poll of 2.8 million.

    If they sampled say 10k and did the demographic split to capture the 30% of so of people without land-line numbers. Then I’d have a bit more respect for the polls. As they are currently run, I treat them as being about indicative as on-line polls – a test of who has the better web-savvy supporters with time on their hands and continuous access to the online computers.

    Is it my imagination or is captcha throwing up more unwriteable phrases?

  6. Of course its not impossible for a Government to win a fourth term.
    For this particular Labour government who has moved so far to the left, than any other party in our history, it might be though.

    People are sick of corruption by Labour, people are sick of them wasting our tax dollars , people are sick of this Government telling us how to think or what to eat or how to pronounce certain words, people are sick of the anti western views of the left, people are sick of a Labour Government who will only listen to one side of the Climate debate, people are sick of Cullen and Clark.

    Labour’s action of stopping 20 thousand New Zealanders for selling their shares in AIA, summed up how disgusting this Government has become.

    People are tried of it, they just want Aunty Helen to butt out of our life’s, and come November, no amount of Liberal Bloggers will change the election result.

  7. K1 7

    Although choosing Labour/Nat is really picking the lesser of two evils, I’d be pleasantly surprised if Labour won again. I wouldn’t put a fiver on it though… for two reasons:

    1. National are more likely to spread a “good news” message to a populace that is experiencing increasingly hard times, and many will support them for this – irrespective of whether it is complete bullshit or not.
    2. Labour have a reasonably long list of “mis-steps” that will be trotted out by National at every opportunity (and no doubt billboarded and the rest) as we get closer to the election. This is partly a consequence of being in government for the length of time they have been, but partly because they’ve been off their game of late. Labour will have little to counter these with other than portraying JK as slippery and the Nats as generally untrustworthy.

  8. AncientGeek 8

    BD: What is amusing about your comment is that most on the left would complain how far to the right this government is. Irish was complaining about it in the previous post.

    It seems to me that you lack a certain level of historical perspective. It is also apparent that you don’t actually get out much amongst ‘people’. I’ve been involved in canvassing this year and last year, and as per usual, the overwhelming majority of people canvassed really aren’t that interested in politics. Most of the swinging voters haven’t decided where they’re likely to vote this time around.

    What you’re saying is that the people you associate with might think that way. But they (fortunately) are not the electorate, just a small bit.

  9. AncientGreek:

    We will see come election day, I talk to a wide range of people, from all different walks of life, it’s not looking good for Labour, and unless a major scandal comes for National, they are going to be the next Government, and a house in Maui isnt a scandal.

  10. Phil 10

    ” … the overwhelming majority of people canvassed really aren’t that interested in politics. Most of the swinging voters haven’t decided where they’re likely to vote this time around. ”

    Interesting that you neglect to mention the fact that the vast majority of undecided voters on election day tend to do one of two things;
    A) Stay home
    B) Vote for the opposition

    Very rarely do undecideds back the incumbent.

    I’m also intrigued by your hostility toward polling. Personally, I think that says more about your ignoance to the polling process, rather than the poll-sters ignorance of statistics or those without landlines.

  11. big bruv 11

    Brett

    In the eyes of a twisted socialist a house in Maui is a major scandal, of course a house in London is perfectly fine.

  12. higherstandard 12

    Brett

    I’d have to say you’ve got it wrong on the current government as a voter from what the bloggers here would describe as the right I’ve seen far more left leaning interventionist governments in my lifetime than the current mob.

  13. merl 13

    “I’m also intrigued by your hostility toward polling. Personally, I think that says more about your ignoance to the polling process, rather than the poll-sters ignorance of statistics or those without landlines.”

    Don’t you think that it’s hostility towards a poll result that isn’t in line with the result they want?

    I agree with K1’s post above. This election seems like national’s to lose, and I suspect that the current national leadership is competent enough to not screw it up before getting elected.

  14. higherstandard 14

    Phil

    In AG’s defence as the polls have been discussed previously many are getting a bit jaded with polls coming out so frequently while the trend and gains for National are undeniable it would be more useful if they only came out once every 8 weeks or so.

    Lyn the captchas are getting really blurry ??

    [lprent: There have been a few complaints about them recently. We get get them in from a free service at recaptcha.net. They’re scanned in images of text. When you type them in you’re helping digitize books. The quality is dependent on the quality of the book they’re digitizing at present.]

  15. AncientGeek 15

    Phil: I’ve been involved in political canvassing since 1983. All the major parties do it to one degree or another. You do it because you get to talk to the politically inactive. The ones that don’t turn up at public meetings or write on blogs.

    It is rare for the polls to actually reflect what you see on the ground or on the phone. There have only been three elections that I’ve seen that happen – 1984, 1990 and 1999. I’m not getting that sense this time – but that is my personal opinion.

    What the polls reflect is what I call the first brush response. It is frequent to get someone on the phone, and to get an earful about what the government is doing wrong. You have to let it peter out. The interesting responses are for the questions after the first one. They give the closest approximation to what is likely to happen heading up to the election.

    As you say, I don’t do polling. But from the results that they get against what I see, I’ll bet that they just rush through their assigned set of questions getting binary answers. Just like I get when polling companies get through on my landline. So the callee doesn’t get time to have a think and give a considered response – similar to the one that they will do at election time – so you get a series of first responses.

    As for the “Vote for opposition”. The best indicator for that is probably the special votes – look around elections.org.nz. A lot are for hospitals etc. But a high proportion are late decision voters. You don’t see a strong vote for the opposition vote in those. You do see a strong vote for green, but that would be expected if you had young non-voters turning up at the polls.

    In my experience of rousting people out to vote on election day, the most common reason is that they forgot there was an election, or hadn’t gotten around to it. It seems weird to me – but that is what I see.

    Another group are mainly the younger (less than 30) who don’t vote – their general reason is something in the order of why do I need to vote. They’re the best reason I’ve seen for better ‘civics’ classes at school. Once they start to vote for whatever reason in their life, they carry on doing so.

    The other major group are what I call the ‘alienated’. They are the ones who would like to call a plague on all parties. They’re the smallest group, and it is rare for them to get to the polls.

    Most of the ‘undecided’ voters will vote – it shows in the turnouts. The biggest factor I see in the changes in turnout is the percentage of the possible electorate who is enrolled. Which is of course why the Nats ritualistically disembowel the electoral commission whenever they get into office.

    But thats just my opinion having been through a few of these elections.

  16. AncientGeek 16

    I suppose you could say that I suspect the polls at many levels and I have done so since the 80’s. I think that their methodology sucks, their quality control is lousy, and they are a classic case of what you get when you hire monkeys at low rates of pay.

    They get more ‘accurate’ closer to the election. But this far out they are mainly interesting because of the media’s reaction to them rather than anything else. The most interesting figure is the one that they seldom report – how many people refused to give answers.

    Anyway, on a completely different note – this Eye to Eye at Maori TV on the death penalty was good. The biggest problem was Willie Jackson having chronic verbal flatulence.

  17. r0b 17

    Very rarely do undecideds back the incumbent.

    That’s an exaggeration Phil. They tend to break for the opposition is the strongest claim you can realistically make. (Recall too that the polls had National ahead on the eve of last election).

    But pollsters and we political junkies are in never never land here. Over half of some large demographics in the population don’t even know it’s election year: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4509670a6160.html Voters in these groups are more likely to break for Labour.

  18. AncientGeek 18

    rOb/Phil: also read this press release from last year

    Building interest in politics key to voter turnout survey results from the electoral commission.

    BTW: I tend to trust the EC’s polling more. They use much larger samples than the public polls, and target into specific groups (as in rOb’s reference). They do not try to sample everyone with small sample sizes. The questions are far more in-depth than check-box questions, so they’re likely to elicit considered information.

  19. AncientGeek 19

    hs:

    I’ve seen far more left leaning interventionist governments in my lifetime than the current mob.

    And the most left-leaning interventionist with popularist bits of quick-fix was the ignoble national governments from 1975 to 1984. They explored the limits of government to intervene in the economy to an extent not seen outside of the old soviet states or the wartime economies.

    They managed to screw things up to an extent seldom seen anywhere in the world that hasn’t had an active civil war on at the time.

  20. r0b 20

    rOb/Phil: also read this press release from last year

    AG – Thanks for that.

    They managed to screw things up to an extent seldom seen anywhere in the world that hasn’t had an active civil war on at the time

    Amen to that. Rob Muldoon, the man who inspired me to get active politically (and thus the inspiration for my screen name). Ironic isn’t it that the most Soviet style interventionist government has been from National, and the most Right wing free market government from Labour. Gotta love NZ.

  21. DS 21

    Just to quibble a bit on the stats, there are two elections (1911 and 1931) which are a bit of a grey area. In 1911 the Liberal Government was returned for its eighth term; the problem is that it fell to a vote of no-confidence in 1912, and the Reform Party came to power without an election being held. In 1931 the United Party, which had won in 1928, was part of the Coalition which won 1931. In that case, 1935 was both the Reform Party going for a second term (in Coalition) and the United Party going for its third term.

    Anyway, the four term or more term governments in NZ history, with the elections we’re talking about:

    Liberal: 1890, 1893, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1905, 1908, 1911?
    Reform: 1911?, 1914, 1919, 1922, 1925
    First Labour 1935, 1938, 1943, 1946
    Second National: 1960, 1963, 1966, 1969

    The third term governments that failed to get a fourth:
    First National: 1949, 1951, 1954
    Third National: 1975, 1978, 1981
    Fourth National: 1990, 1993, 1996

    And the others:
    United: 1928, 1931?
    Fourth Labour 1984, 1987
    Reform/United Coalition: 1931
    Second Labour: 1957
    Third Labour: 1972

  22. r0b 22

    Useful list DS, ta!

  23. AncientGeek 23

    Ironic isn’t it…

    Oh yeah. One thing you have to say about this country, it certainly believes in overturning the “political rules”.

    I was just contemplating the numbers that Steve put up in the post. Those are probably pretty unique in the 20th century western world apart possibly some of the Scandinavian countries? Part of it is this ridiculously short electoral cycle we have of 3 years. Most western countries have either 4 or 5 year terms. Part is probably the gerrymandered electorates we had for most of the 20th.

    But a lot of it is probably this tendency of kiwi’s to complain rigorously about governments, but to re-elect ones that they consider are reasonably competent. I’m going to laugh like hell when that happens again this year – which is what I feel is likely to happen.

  24. AG, What you say about the lack of focused rage (my words) against the current government echoes what some friends have been saying; that the atmosphere is nothing like 1990, the last time the NZ electorate went to the polls positively baying for blood.

    However, the Bob Chapman used to say that it was the trend in the polls that mattered, and that if the trend was consistent for a year or so before the election campaign, that is what would be reflected in the ballot box.

    This Government has one last chance to get it right IMO, and that is the budget. It needs to show that it can do more than manage prosperity in a fair and prudent way, which is what it has excelled at. It needs to convince NZers that it can deal with a downturn and secure our future. Its record on this is patchy.

  25. randal 25

    Years ago I used to work in the bush felling anything that got in the way with an 80 year old man we all called Snapper. his favourite saying was “shit in carrying a pig”….geddit!

  26. DS 26

    “Those are probably pretty unique in the 20th century western world apart possibly some of the Scandinavian countries?”

    Australia is even more ridiculous. Since WWII, they’ve had a nine term government (the Liberal/Country Coalition won 1949, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1961, 1963, 1966, and 1969), a five term government (the ALP won 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990, and 1993), a four term government (the Liberal/National Coalition won 1996, 1998, 2001, and 2004), a three term government (Liberal/National won 1975, 1977, and 1980), and a two term government (the ALP won 1972 and 1974).

    The last Australian federal government not to get elected to more than one term was the ALP in 1931.

  27. r0b 27

    Oh yeah. One thing you have to say about this country, it certainly believes in overturning the “political rules’.

    All the way back to women and the vote. I wonder what’s next!?

    that the atmosphere is nothing like 1990, the last time the NZ electorate went to the polls positively baying for blood.

    JP, AG, agreed. AG, I will join you for a drink if your prediction comes to pass!

    “shit in carrying a pig’ .geddit!

    randal – no I don’t – must be getting dim(mer) in my old age…

  28. AncientGeek 28

    DS: That is useful getting the detail.

    j: At a ‘feel’ level for me, 1990 was the worst as a labour supporter. Phone and door canvassing that year was really bad, and it carried through into the 1993 election.

    1984 was the same, but the other way. There was a determination to zap the government, and 1987 the nats had a carry through. Even where they didn’t like labour, voters were determined to make sure that the nats didn’t get in

    1996 was ambiguous. People were putting vote in the minor parties directions. 1999 was a lot ‘softer’, but there was a steely determination amongst the less-affluent non-voters to get rid of the nats. They were the people that had family getting hurt deeply by the benefit cuts and had a sense of unfairness about their taxes paying for the rich instead of the people they wanted to help.

    The elections since then have been almost boring from the canvassing side. This one doesn’t ‘feel’ much different from what I’ve seen so far. People are grumpy but not hostile. It is probably different in different places, but it doesn’t look like labour is losing core vote, and swingers are willing to talk rather than yell.

  29. AncientGeek 29

    DS: Agreed, aussie is really wierd. But they have some of the most ‘interesting’ electorate seats outside of the southern US. Have you ever seen a map of one famous southern US electorate – its shape looked a bit like a corkscrew.

    Mind you, those hamilton seats were feeling like that in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The way they projected as half rural and half urban was an exercise in how to render a anti-national vote ineffective.

    I have to say that MMP has calmed that kind of gerrymander down a lot.

  30. AG,
    I agree with you about the feel. In 1981, for example, I actually detected the swing in Auckland the last couple of weeks of the campaign. Things were so close that it would have carried Labour into office had it been reflected in the provinces. But Pig had made sure of the provinces with Think Big and the Tour.

    Yep we had gerrymanders here alright. The best included Hastings (a spanner) and Gisborne. In the latter case the principal Labour voting area would be carved out into the surrounding rural seat. Chapman would fulminate for days after the boundaries were released, and put it all down to Pig.

  31. Oops, that should have read, “The best examples…” But you probably figured that.

  32. DS. Thanks for the contributions. I just took the list from wikipedia but I was a bit sus on counting the United Government and the Liberal-Reform ‘National’ Coalition governments of 1928 and 1931 as seperate too – especially as we consider the three different combinations of parties led by Labour since 1999 to be one government.

    Good spotting on the first Liberal Government, I had forgotten they won the election but collapsed soon after.

  33. ak 33

    You’re onto it rOb (as usual). Wlth 70% refusal rates and half not even knowing there’s an election on, it’s another reminder that our fates will be decided by dilettantes – and also yet another reminder of the power of the press sound-bite and the “self-fulfilling prophesy” aspect of the polls.

    The tories have been on to this for years (natch, marketing is their entire world). Hence the ultra-heavy repetition of even the most unfounded inanities and I suspect a concerted multi-level campaign to influence the popular press a la pre-Orewa One as alluded to in The Hollow Men – not to mention the selection of El Blando the real estate agent from Central Casting as frontsman. Hence too the high dudgeon at the EFA which thwarts further populist propaganda bombardments.

    Then again there could be a calamitous collapse in the supply of printer’s ink, in which case the election will be decided on the quality of political comment on the blogs. In that case we’ll shit in – with or without a pig. (I don’t get it either…)

  34. AncientGeek 34

    jafa: I was not really political in 1981. Well apart from the tour where a police baton managed to send my teeth through my upper lip. In fact I actually helped the Nat’s put up hoardings. That was because my father asked for some help and he was supporting the poor candidate opposing a certain Ms Clark.

    He supports candidates not parties. So he went very apolitical after moving into the Rodney seat in ’83. For some reason he couldn’t bring himself to be interested in Lockjaw Smith. Now he has moved down country, he has found a labour candidate worth supporting and has been getting very active in his retirement.

  35. rex brown 35

    This isn’t really myth busting. More stating the obvious.

    MMP has given Labour more chance than what they would have had under the old/better system.

    BUT

    They will still be gone come election time. No matter how often they (and their supporters) repeat their mantra of re-election.

    I wasn’t too happy when National were ousted in 99, but upon reflection, it was a good thing. They had come to the end of their road. Losing power has given them a chance to rebuild and they now have some great candidates.

    Once Labour falls, they will be gone for a min of 2 terms.

    That may give them a chance of recruiting some quality people – if they can look outside the unions! Probably best to stay clear of teachers for a while too.

    Just my 2 cents…

  36. Ari 36

    Hey- just for those interested in the track record of re-election as a total, not just out of governments that made it to one term less, here’s steve’s numbers as fractional totals and as percentages to 2sf:

    1+ Terms: 13/13 100%
    2+ Terms: 9/13 69%
    3+ Terms: 8/13 62%
    4+ Terms: 4/13 31%
    5+ Terms: 2/13 15%
    6+ Terms: 1/13 7.6%

    So not only do governments running for a fourth term have a better track record of winning than of losing, almost a third of our total governments have made it to fourth terms. Long governments are most definitely possible.

    As for Rex Brown: I think given National’s current showing, they’re in for one disasterous term at best. Don’t get me wrong- if they do get in I’ll be hoping for them to keep the country in working order, but I’m not optimistic given their terrible (lack of) policies. I agree that Labour has lost some steam, but it has very little ground to retake. It needs to knock back Act and National about 3 or 4 percentage of the vote, even assuming our famously inaccurate polls have got it right.

    Labour COULD win this, but the way they’re going right now they’re going to need a change of tactics, as they’re letting the media and National beat them up as arrogant jerks who aren’t doing anything about food prices, etc, and while the policies they’re knocking out are solid, they haven’t really countered National’s usual spin tactics. They’ll also need to mend bridges with the Greens and reach out to the Maori Party if they want a good basis for another term.

  37. higherstandard 37

    AG

    “And the most left-leaning interventionist with popularist bits of quick-fix was the ignoble national governments from 1975 to 1984.”

    Yes agreed – as you guessed that is who I was alluding to it was also the last time I voted for Labour.

  38. Once Labour starts reminding the 50% of Kiwis who are now benefiting from some form of ‘income redistribution” which side their bread is buttered the numbers will shift. It also helps they have cleverly employed a whole army of socialist policy wonks (chart-public service staffing) who know they will be out the door if National takes the treasury benches. Sad as it might be, I reckon Helengrad will survive another three years.

    Mental note to self: book one way ticket to Melbourne for December.

    [lprent: corrected link so it could be accessed. I think that the system got confused by the brackets]

  39. Phil 39

    I’m part of the “…whole army of socialist policy wonks” having come into the public service in ’03.

    When I look around my colleagues, I don’t see anyone who is in the slightest bit concerned they may lose their job, because they realise that ‘capping’ and ‘cutting’ have two completely different meanings (Steve may want to google a definition for those… )

    On the other hand, DPMC (downstairs) may well be worried… as an interesting aside, I wonder if the level of resignations from DPMC change year-on-year depending on the election outcome?

  40. AncientGeek 40

    Phil: what is “DPMC” ?

  41. Tane 41

    Mental note to self: book one way ticket to Melbourne for December.

    Please do. I’m getting mighty sick of right-wingers threatening to up and leave New Zealand if they don’t get their way. If you can’t handle the results of democracy then piss off.

  42. Phil 42

    Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

  43. Lew 43

    I work with a bloke (and a few of you Standardistas know him too), whose political nous I rate highly, and he reckons neither National nor Labour are really that thrilled at the idea of winning the election. Possibly a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the reason is that whoever is in the house in 2009 is fighting an uphill battle against recession, and is vulnerable to `it’s the economy, stupid’-type attacks. If National win, with all that they’ve been complaining about Labour’s blaming previous National governments for privatisation, housing shortages, etc. are hardly on firm ground to object to Labour’s current policies unmaking their economic bed. If they win the election, Labour would widely be seen as having made that bed and therefore having to lie in it. Whoever wins in 2008 has a very, very hard road to win in 2011 if the economy goes the way economists seem to think it will. Colin James implies something similar in his latest Management Magazine column: http://www.colinjames.co.nz/management/Management_column_08May.htm

    Partisan cynics will say failure of the 2008 winner in 2001 would be down to John Key’s lack of policy experience – that he’s nice to look at but not a strong leader. On the other hand, I believe that Key would withstand a Labour win, and would concentrate sufficient fury against Clark and Cullen to win an election on a centrist policy platform.

    Which way do I think it would go? Can’t say, and to be honest, I don’t think I really mind. Whatever happens it’ll be interesting.

    Oh, and mawgxxxxvi – the ironclad riposte against your `bureaucrats will be out of a job if they don’t vote Labour’ rhetoric is that National will hire ’em back on consultants’ fees. If you’re going to be partisan and bag the public service, at least have the decency to recognise the failings of private-sector business models as well. On this logic, smart public servants should be voting National, since there’s more money in it for them that way.

    L

  44. Lew 44

    Stupid blog software, munging my URL. Why can it not just leave ’em as Plain Old Text?

    L

    [lprent: I was trying something out to get rid of url’s overflowing on the right sidebar in firefox. Thought I had it – but obviously not. Reverted the code.]

  45. Ari 45

    Personally speaking, I think the best thing Labour could do in this election is actually to point out we’re likely headed into tough economic times and that National is very, very bad at weathering recessions. The trouble is that this is a risky tactic as National is (oddly) percieved as the stronger economic party, so they’d need some good convincing policies for doing that. (like pointing out how an economic focus on broad employment helps)

    As you point out lew, whoever wins is going to have to weather a recession. But if you go INTO the election saying that, then the political landscape changes a bit.

  46. Phil 46

    Labour has spent 9 years blaming National for all-and-sundry. What makes you think the boot won’t fit just as neatly on the other foot?

    It did the first time under Muldoon…

    =P

  47. randal 47

    phil; because National will not win the election…q.e.d.

  48. I doubt National would have an issue with a recession. It would give them the opportunity to prescribe the hard neoliberal medicine they itch to inflict on us.

  49. Lew 49

    Phil: I think it would fit. Certainly National is spinning the tail-end of an economic boom that way now, with what Steve calls the New Zealand Sucks discourse (a discourse which is much more traditionally rolled out by extremists on both sides, ironically). But I think National would lose face if they did so once in government, since they’ve consistently pooh-poohed Labour’s blaming them so much.

    This is what I mean when I say it’s interesting.

    L

  50. Ari 50

    Phil: I’d be bagging Labour just as badly if it was running a policy-free campaign blaming National for everything minor thing that isn’t perfect with New Zealand. Partially because I have a distaste for negative politics, partially because I am very very worried about the possibility of a government being formed around a large party that has done very little policy planning, and has announced none of the principles behind its new policies after a radical re-branding.

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