Labour battles problems, National lines up its warriors

Our Second Leader in Digital Edition April 1, 2023

 

 

Venkat Raman
Auckland, March 31, 2023

While the Labour Party and its Leader (Prime Minister) Chris Hipkins battles with the indiscretions of his ministerial colleague (Please read the Leader above) and public ire over a number of issues, the National Party, its main opponent has completed the selection of candidates in most major constituencies, lining up its warriors to ballot war on October 14, 2023.

The 54th Parliament will be the most diverse in terms of ethnic representation if Labour and ACT also choose their candidates from ethnicities to bring a fair representation of the country’s changing demography.

The selection process

National is fielding five candidates of Indian origin as of now, the largest in our parliamentary history. The share of Maori and Pacifica is also likely to be larger than the previous years.

Dr Steve Barnes, Director at the Wellesley Institute, cited an attitude amongst large party MPs that gaining a nomination for a winnable electorate seat was a sign that they were valued by their parties. List MPs who stood in an electorate and lost thus entering Parliament with less mana than their electorate seat counterparts. This attitude was less apparent in List MPs who had stood only on the list; the list was bound to be their means of entry to Parliament.

He said in his thesis that the candidate selection processes are characterised by a myriad of supply and demand factors.

“Selectors seek a range of individuals with the skills required to fill all aspects of legislators’ roles. Thus individuals with a variety of characteristics, including temperament, occupation, gender, ethnicity, and party experience, are sought. On the supply side, individuals who have qualities typical of MPs – including high levels of ambition are most likely to stand,” he said.

Labour’s Performance

Jacinda Ardern led the Labour Party to a spectacular victory in 2020 building on her promise to offer fair and equitable governance.

But people saw her performance betraying the lofty plans to build a fairer, better New Zealand by slashing child poverty, ending homelessness and erecting 100,000 cheap houses.

As ACT Party Leader David Seymour said, her idealism collided hard with reality. The affordable-housing targets were scrapped, while a well-intentioned policy to put homeless people into emergency accommodation is blamed for causing crime. Gangs are warring. Kiwis have been getting worried about a spate of ram-raids, an ostentatious kind of theft that involves driving cars through shop windows.

These aberrations do not spell imminent defeat for Labour. The Party has bounced back in opinion polls, hedging above National and Mr Hipkins is ahead of National’s Christopher Luxon in the order of preference as Prime Minister.

National’s Promise

National has presented itself as more business-friendly and less bureaucratic than Labour, promising to cut taxes and repeal many of the laws passed by Labour as antithetical to a progressive and diverse society.

But, as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand has predicted, a tough year lies ahead. The United States of America and Europe are facing political, social and economic challenges.

At home, interest rates are rising and along with it unemployment and house prices are falling.  As a small, isolated country, New Zealand has one of the world’s most unregulated economies and is highly dependent on foreign investment, the export of agricultural commodities and long-haul tourism.

We are very vulnerable to the slowdown in the global economy.

There are no foregone conclusions about General Election 2023. It is still an open race.

We will watch and report people’s aspirations and expectations.

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