The National Party stormed to power for a third term after registering a thumping victory in the general election held on September 20, 2014.
The Party defied political gravity and conventional wisdom and despite the so-called anti-incumbency factor affecting many in other parts of the world, it actually increased its vote share compared to the previous elections.
This was the best ever performance by a Party since the MMP voting system was initiated in 1996. It was a superb team effort by National, ably led by John Key, arguably the most popular Prime Minister that New Zealand has ever had in its political history.
In the months leading up to the elections, National was at odds on favourites to win, but its campaign was hit by several roadblocks.
‘Dirty Politics,’ a book on alleged malpractices emanating close to the Beehive, hit the stands. Many political pundits thought this would derail National’s campaign, and erode Mr Key’s credibility. But the election results proved that the voting public are more concerned about issues that directly affect their everyday lives, than unsubstantiated allegations.
National’s opponents also purported that it had no vision for the future, while the Party stuck relentlessly to its message of guiding the economy through troubled times and giving it stability; a message which obviously resonated with the electorate.
The biggest strength for National is obviously Mr Key. The voters placed their explicit trust in him and the tirade by Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom actually helped National garner more votes.
Mr Dotcom promised to bring to the open startling revelations against Mr Key which would prove that he lied to New Zealanders. What he eventually disclosed at the end, proved to be a fizzer.
Another feature of this election was that a large number of people availed the provision to cast their vote early. The numbers were nearly double compared to the 2011 election. Results from these were also in favour of National.
Labour suffered a severe drubbing in these polls, garnering a Party Vote even less than the previous election held in 2011. Under its third leader since 2011 – David Cunliffe, the Party lost heavily across the board.
Serious questions now arise over the direction it needs to take to assume political relevance again. Critics argue that it is only catering to certain people, and not the populace at large. What cannot be doubted is that Mr Cunliffe gave a spirited performance throughout the campaign. He more than matched up to Mr Key and grew in confidence and stature as the elections drew closer.
Labour now needs a serious rethink on its policies and their projection, if it wants to be a political force again.
The 52nd Parliament will have three representatives from the Indian community.
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi became a third time List MP for Manukau East. He registered growth in both Electoral and Party vote in this traditional Labour strong hold.
Dr Parmjeet Parmar has debuted as a List National MP with more than 9000 electorate votes, although she lost against Phil Goff in Mount Roskill. National won the Party vote in this electorate with a sizeable Indian presence.
Mahesh Bindra has the honour of being the first MP of Indian origin for New Zealand First. He will play a major role in reversing the image of his Party as being xenophobic.
Election 2014 has again demonstrated that Economy is a major issue.
National proved that it is a safe Party in this connection and New Zealanders rewarded it with a third term in power.
The onus now lies on the government, and on all MPs to come good on the huge expectations and responsibilities placed on their shoulders by the people.
Apurv Shukla is a regular contributor to Indian Newslink. He lives in Auckland.