NZ Election result

Written By: - Date published: 6:03 am, October 17th, 2023 - 45 comments
Categories: act, campaigning, election 2023, greens, labour, maori party, national - Tags: , , , ,

Originally published on Nick Kelly’s blog

On Saturday Labour lost of General Election in New Zealand.

Whilst there are special votes still to count, which make up roughly 20% of total votes cast in this election (including this author who voted from London), these will likely change the numbers in parliament but not the fact that there will be a change in Government.

Above: the provisional results of the 2023 NZ General Election. 20% of the vote is still to be counted and will not be known until early November

After UK Labour lost in 2019, I wrote nine fairly lengthy posts about why they lost. For NZ Labour the reasons can be summed up in a paragraph. I wrote two blog posts just for the election, one addressing Labour’s response to the Housing Crisis and another regarding their response to the coronavirus pandemic. It became apparent writing both these that Labour’s chances of winning were slim.

On key policy areas like housing, but also education and transport Labour had over-promised in 2017 and underdelivered in Government. With the pandemic, unrealistic expectations were set, rather than properly preparing the public for community transmission post vaccinations, they locked down Auckland (the nation’s largest city) for weeks in 2021, only to have the inevitable community transmission throughout the country by early 2022.

In my post on historical trends and perspectives in NZ politics, I said that every time the National came to power since 1949, they have won a minimum of three terms. This is not inevitable for the incoming National Government. In part, this will be down to the performance of National, ACT and possibly NZ First in Government. It also will also come down to how well Labour perform in Opposition.

Immediately people will start speculating on the leadership. Yes, in politics leadership is critical. But the last thing Labour needs right now is a popularity contest amongst its remaining MPs, coupled with the weird parochialism that masquerades as factionalism in NZ Labour. Instead, Labour needs to grieve, try to understand and accept the loss, and then re-group and prepare to be the next government in 2016 (if not earlier).

NZ Herald reporter Simon Wilson made the following astute comment the day after the election:

One of the grat fallacies in politics is that there is a big middle ground of voters who like quiet moderation. Actually, voters want thing to be better. Those who swing from one party to another are not looking to reinforce the status quo. They have become disillusioned and want a shake-up

Labour needs to plan for government. Instead of glib slogans about fairness or positivity, Labour needs a believable plan to make life better for the people who are doing it tough right now. This does not mean over-complicated policy proposals, or arbitrary targets on building new homes. It means a clear vision with priority policy areas that resonate with the voting public.

NZ Labour will not be in government anymore. But the Party and its MPs must quickly start looking like a Government in waiting. This means a front bench with a mix of experienced and new MPs. Decisions about the party leadership should be part of this, but it is only one part.

There will need to be a reaffirming of commitments with The Green Party and strengthening alliances with Te Pāti Māori to show what a progressive centre-left government will look like next time. This work should be starting now.

In parliamentary politics, there are no final victories. After losing the 2023 election, Labour must now immediately focus on winning in 2026.

45 comments on “NZ Election result ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    • Labour needs to change leader asap, (and there are only two realistic candidates at this point…c’mon Micky Savage…you know who). Chris Hipkins was anointed and not put through the often more extended party election processes.

    Mr Hipkins dropped the ball with his various Cap’n’s calls, after canning a wealth tax despite clear evidence of the need from working class people for such an approach, the polls dropped irretrievably. But having said that, on election night he also conceded too early, should have just sat on it and told Luxon “I’ll get back to you” given the number of specials.

    • NZCTU needs to rediscover what “class left” and “fighting” mean. Their economist Craig Rennie did a sterling job puncturing the Natzos lies and miss speaks. This will need to be extended to direct action of all sorts to retain 10 days sick leave and all the rest of the gains made since 2017.
    Union membership density remains low in this country after the union busting 1991 Employment Contracts Act, but Unite, Etū, First, DWU and the Public Sector and smaller medical unions have put in some major fightbacks and strikes. In my view there was a soft target in a Labour Govt. Hopefully NZNO etc. will participate strongly in dealing with a new tory Govt. The NZ ruling class still want nothing less than the destruction of organised labour.

    • NZ Labour needs to join the political movements that are already here, and others that will likely arise as 2026 approaches, particularly if Act are determined to take on the Māori world.

    • Louis 1.1

      Who do you suggest should take over the reins? Let the dust settle. There is plenty of time to select a new leader. Hipkins is the mp for Remutaka and I suspect will make his intentions to retire from politics before the next election. A new leader would be installed well before then anyway.

  2. alwyn 2

    You suggest that "This means a front bench with a mix of experienced and new MPs."

    That is going to be quite a feat when there are only two new MPs in the Caucus.

    As always the dinosaurs of the party have hogged all the high places on the list and all the seats in the House.

    • Grey Area 2.1

      Valid point but don't all the parties load their lists with "dinosaurs" or at least their anointed ones starting with their leader and deputy leader and working on down?

      • alwyn 2.1.1

        I have been told that the Clark Government, as a matter of policy, put every sitting MP higher on the list than any new candidates.

        I have not personally checked this and I don't know whether it was at every election but I was told by someone who was in a position to know that that had happened.

        • Incognito

          A Schrödinger comment, as usual.

          • alwyn

            Please enlighten me.

            Do you mean the Schrodinger of the quantum mechanics wave function or someone else.

            If it is him what does it have to do with my comment.

            • Barfly

              Well IMO

              "I have not personally checked this and I don't know whether it was at every election"

              So it can be true or not true until it's checked – hence the Schrodinger reference

              • alwyn

                You and, if this is what he meant, Incognito have the wrong physicist.

                Schrodinger did not accept this interpretation, which he thought was ridiculous, as he demonstrated with the example of Schrodinger's Cat.

                So, what is Incognito talking about?

        • Craig H

          Certainly wasn't the case this time.

          • alwyn

            "Certainly wasn't the case this time"

            Well that statement is true. As you may, or may not, have noticed the Clark Government followed the famous stage direction in Shakespeare's A winter Tale and in 2008 that Government followed the direction to 'Exit, pursued by a bear'.

            They haven't been back.

            • observer

              In 2008 Clark's biggest problem was a Minister mired in scandal, who she eventually had to sack. This cost Labour the next election.

              Can't remember his name, Peter Winston or something, but anyway that's ancient history now, he is long gone and Luxon is not going to face the same problem, everything will be fine, just fine …

            • Craig H

              I had look back via Wikipedia at lists from Helen Clark's time as leader:






              All of them have some new MPs via the list (e.g. Shane Jones in 2005 and Jacinda Ardern in 2008) and some electorates being won by MPs lower on the list (e.g. David Parker in 2002), but it does seem a lot more the case than this year that most current MPs were above most non-MPs.

  3. Louis 3

    'This means a front bench with a mix of experienced and new MPs.' And here it begins.

    “With the party going into opposition it’s important to give those who will form the Seventh Labour Government every opportunity to home their skills and cement a strong team."

    • alwyn 3.1

      Andrew Little quitting means, if my copy of the Labour List is correct, that his place will be taken by Shannan Halbert who has lost his seat of Northcote.

      In other words not a new MP. Three others will then have to quit before we get a New MP. That would be Georgie Dansey. After that another half dozen would have to be defenestrated before we got another new one.

      Not terribly fast progress in refreshing the Party, is it?

      • Louis 3.1.1

        "Not terribly fast progress in refreshing the Party, is it?"

        Are you for real? It has only been 3 days since the election and Labour is the caretaker government. Can I expect you to demand the same swiftness of Luxon to enact all his promises within 3 days of taking office then?

        What Andrew said was that stepping aside will make room for one more. MP's will decide for themselves what they wish to do and speaking of Andrew Little, that was a good interview.

        • alwyn

          Well, what you said was

          "'This means a front bench with a mix of experienced and new MPs.' And here it begins."

          I read you suggestion that "Here it begins" was that you were going to get a new MP and they would be able to "hone their skill" etc. You can't really expect that people like Rurahwe, Jackson, Parker and O'Connor who are all in their sixties are going to be around in 9 years time when, if history repeats, is the first chance they will have.

          Why were they put so high on the list when they could have been placed where they would have got back if Labour did well enough to be the Government but not if they lost

          • Louis

            You should have watched the interview. No doubt Andrew Little will not be the only MP to retire, which will make room for others. As I said, MP's will decide for themselves what they wish to do. It is not up to you and your reckons.

  4. Muttonbird 4

    Have Labour lost this election? Seems to me everyone is getting ahead of themselves…

    • weka 4.1

      Hipkins ruled out a coalition government with NZF.

      • Muttonbird 4.1.1

        Yes, but that is not an insurmountable obstacle in the event of a breakdown in the relationship between Winston Peters and the National/ACT spectre.

        • weka

          I think a NACT government with NZF C/S is much more likely. If Labour did a deal with Peters it would make a liar of Hipkins.

          • Belladonna

            In that scenario – Green/Labour/NZF – Hipkins would almost certainly have to be rolled as Labour leader. His credibility couldn't survive a NZF coalition.

            Note: I don't think it's a likely scenario – but if it did happen…..

            Part of the issue then, is that any replacement is likely to be to the left of Hipkins – and thus less acceptable to Peters.

    • pat 4.2

      On 26% I think its safe to say they have no viable pathway to Government

      • Muttonbird 4.2.1

        Have you not caught up with the news? The right wing block does not really have a majority, certainly no mandate. The result is very similar to 2017 and we all remember what happened then.

        • pat

          Not similar to 2017 at all.

          Short of a new election and a very different result , Labour has no realistic pathway to the treasury benches

          • Muttonbird

            It's really similar if you look at the left/right numbers as per this comment by Incognito:


            No swing to the right comparing 2017 to 2023.

            Luxon has no mandate and he at least knows it. His handlers will be hoping to just get across some sort of line after which he'll try build that crappy in charge CEO vibe.

            • pat

              Two or three fundamental differences to 2017…

              An arrangement with NZ First and labour has been categorically rejected by both parties

              Even should all parties risk the ire of the electorate there are still insufficient seats in an improbable Labour, Green, MP and NZ First arrangement

              Labour have not only been voted out of office, they have been punished by a very unhappy electorate.

              2017 revisited it is not.

              • Muttonbird

                there are still insufficient seats in an improbable Labour, Green, MP and NZ First arrangement

                At this point. Only takes one or two seats to change and the Nazis are in the minority once again.

                • pat

                  We have no idea of the impact of specials on either seats or the size of Parliament ….except to say that the odds favour the current situation unlikely to change to the advantage of Labour.

                  And the attitude of both the electorate and the politicians themselves dosnt lend itself to the multi party agreement that would be required should the unlikely occur.

                  You are hoping against hope.

                  • Muttonbird

                    I don't have any particular hope or expectation, that is something you projected. I'll ask you to desist, thanks.

                    What I said @4 was everyone is getting ahead of themselves.

            • Phil

              Luxon has no mandate and he at least knows it.

              Muttonbird-math asserts that 39 is actually less than 27.

  5. Thinker 5

    I've said similar things across several recent posts, but by no means as succinctly as you, Nick.

    I believe the right scored an own-goal when Luxon panicked and validated NZF. You are right, Nick, that change what has historically been the case for National's three term expectations. As you, say, Nick, it's up to the left to make that happen.

    And, yes, what I've been looking for since Graham Crombie wrote his book I've been looking for a government with a strategy to grow the pie rather than vary the pie we already have, which may even be shrinking, per head of population.

    Lastly, I hope that, when the left gets in again, it carefully chooses the Chair of the Reserve Bank, which we've now seen is a pivotal role to the success of the country during any particular political term.

  6. Ad 6

    The basic assumption of the post is that Labour will recover and Green and Maori Party will be there to prop up the numbers.

    So we get the glib "…a reaffirming of commitments with The Green Party and strengthening alliances with Te Pāti Māori …"

    Nick Labour has lost 8 electorate seats and shows every sign that next time it will lose even more.

    The Greens got 50% of the vote Labour did.

    All those Green and Maori electorates are about to get staff and money and larger volunteers and a power base. They aren't coming back to Labour any time soon.

    This is a fundamental re-ordering of the left in New Zealand more gradual and hence more permanent than anything Anderton ever tried.

    A 'reaffirming of commitments' won't cut it. They should divvy up the Select Committee and Spokesperson roles into an organised entity. They should have their leaders come and talk to ours and actively influence policy. That is what a functioning Opposition needs to look like.

    After all if we could persuade National to vote with us 50% of the time in the last two terms, we can do even stronger cooperation with the whole of the left.

    The ground has permanently shifted. So Labour caucus and Labour Org thinking needs to as well.

  7. Corey 7

    I'm not sure it can look like a govt in waiting, The Labour party nearly died the last time it was in opposition, it couldn't connect with anyone and had no vision.

    The only reason its polls ever went up was because people liked Jacinda, not Labour, take Jacinda away and Labour is once again a dying irrelevant out of touch organization.

    The partys senior leadership are all people who were useless as opposition mps during the 5th national govt, who then became useless ministers in the 6th Labour govt who couldn't deliver anything or organize a piss up in a brewery.

    Jacinda was well liked but her party wasn't, one of her many failings was that she never reformed her party organization so it was fit for purpose.

    She may be the last Labour leader to win an election because without her the party has once again become an irrelevant party.

    The party needs to get rid of about 30% of its remaining mps, replace them with young, vibrant working class people who speak the same language as New Zealanders, it needs to win back male voters and it needs to be social democratic and populist on economics, anti elite (it's a Labour party ie workers not managers) and it needs to stop parachuting in nice but dull liberal academics from other parts of the country as candidates for seats and start selecting people from inside those electorates.

    Honestly Labour and the left in general needs to win back men (the male female vote split is horrendous) and be a party of the working and middle class by the working and middle class that speaks the language of the worming class instead of waffling on.

    Basically the left needs to learn to fight, it needs to head hunt charismatic people who are from the same backgrounds as the people they represent, it needs to have a vision that's different from national and it needs to be able to communicate.

    Labour needs to stop being a party full of tory kids who are trying to make their parents mad by being in Labour.

    The last govt achieved fuck all for the poor and working class because Labour has fuck all working class and poor people in leadership roles so like fuck are the poor and working class going to vote for a bunch of waffling managers, geeks and cos playing torys.

    • In Vino 7.1

      Pretty much so, Corey

    • Craig Glen Eden 7.2

      Boom nailed it Cory

    • SPC 7.3

      National was the largest party after the 2017 election.

      What followed was the first time a party that was not the largest in parliament has ever formed a government.

      Labour can return to being a "working class unionist party", but the economy has changed since 1984 (and so has the employment sector – diminished unions and migrant worker exploitation). The Fair Pay Agreement Industry Awards was a belated effort at redress (back in 2000 replacing the ECA was met with a winter of discontent led by the BR muppet puppet, the NZH).

      In some ways the attack on Labour for not being just working class, is akin to the attack on Greens for not just being an environment party.

      That said workers in this country are under class war attack (competing with migrants for full time jobs and foreign students for precariat ones), and its resulting in an underclass of those who will never own a home – all so an investment class can profit from a growing population with untaxed CG. And another class those who own their home and expect their children to, have a privileged existence (and it is to them that National sell their narratives to, to win votes). Once owning a home was the expectation for all – an egalitarian society.

      Now it is the deserving and entitled and pampered and the rest – who have a survival of the fittest contest to climb into the middle class, despite less than equal opportunity.

    • Anne 7.4

      Basically the left needs to learn to fight, it needs to head hunt charismatic people who are from the same backgrounds as the people they represent, it needs to have a vision that's different from national and it needs to be able to communicate.

      Spot on. I remember former Labour MPs and Cabinet Ministers from the 1960s, 70s and 80s who would be spinning in their graves over the demise of their Labour Party.

  8. pat 8

    I hope for the sake of the wider left that the analysis of this OP is treated as deserved.

  9. NZsage 9

    I suspect the NATZ performance and policies over the next three years will play a large part in Labour's re-election.

    Unfortunately, that will mean a whole world of pain for ordinary NZ'ers some of whom would have inexplicably voted for these right wing zealots.

    • Michael P 9.1

      Relying on the poor performance of your opponents to win sounds a bit like developing the toxicity of low expectations.

  10. Michael P 10

    "There will need to be a reaffirming of commitments with The Green Party …"

    The trouble with Labor and the Greens is that the Greens best results (2011, 2014 and 2023) where they got around 10 – 11% and 14 seats all coincide with the Labor party's worst results where they got around 25 – 28% and 32-34 seats.

    So it seems ('seems', not 'is') that the Green party's extra share of the party vote when they go up around 4 or 5% comes from Labor voter's, which doesn't boost the left vote. It'd be interesting to know what it was policy wise that made people switch or if it was something else.

    In my opinion, Yes Labor needs to remember it is supposed to be the party of the working class, etc but first it needs to do a very detailed analysis and work out why a certain percentage of voters switched from Labor to National, giving them a good basis for figuring out how to get them to switch back. This should be the main focus of the back office for at least the next year.

    (Yes I know special votes may give the Greens another seat or maybe 2)

    It could be that the main reason for most people who switched was the way the government handled the covid crises. If that is the case then it is not all doom and gloom for Labor and it should leave them in a better place to get those voters back.

    As a side note, please don't let me be the only one. I'm really pissed off that I've allowed some damn software to socially condition me into using poor spelling. It cracks me up a bit to be honest that I now prefer to spell Labour incorrectly rather than have a squiggly red line under the word!!

  11. aj 11

    work out why a certain percentage of voters switched from Labor to National, giving them a good basis for figuring out how to get them to switch back.

    Bullshit intolerance level exceeded for these people, and co-governance intertwined. Could be that simple.

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