Monday, July 21, 2008

More numbers games

Last year, I wrote about opinion polling in New Zealand. Among other things, I said that neither the polls nor trends really tell us very much that’s useful.

However, a new poll released yesterday by TVNZ did have one thing of interest: Labour went up in the poll, and National went down after months of the opposite. What’s interesting about that is that Labour’s fortunes improved right after the National Party started releasing some policies—usually after being forced into it kicking and screaming.

We’ve recently seen that National plans to privatise ACC, and giving us an accident insurance regime more like America’s or Australia’s isn’t a popular option for the majority of New Zealanders. As they’re forced to admit the extent of their plans to sell-off state-owned assets, their popularity will continue to drop.

So far, most of National’s popularity is based simply on the fact that it’s not Labour. New Zealanders have an almost perverse need to kick a party out of government after a few years, just because it’s been a few years. National has been positioning itself as a kind of “Labour-Lite” so as to capitalise on people who are sick of Labour, but like its policies.

As National is forced into releasing more of its policies, New Zealand voters will see its true agenda, and then the game will be on. So far, polling is showing that National’s continued addiction to neo-conservative nonsense isn’t winning them any friends. We’ll know soon enough if that trend continues.


d said...

I hear a lot of dissatisfaction with Helen and the Labour Party from those who think NZ is a "nanny state". I understand this may lead to people voting in National in the upcoming election.

Since I'm still fairly new to NZ politics - is it possible to vote in Labour, but have a different PM? Do you think a third party has a chance?

Speaking of polls..I read one today that said a majority of Kiwis now support police carrying guns. However, only 500 people were polled - only in Auckland - and the question wasn't specific (as in, "all the time" or "some of the time"). *Sheesh*

Arthur Schenck said...

The next Prime Minister will be either Helen Clark (Labour) or John Key (National). One day the leader of a different party may become Prime Minister, but not this year, and probably not in 2011, either.

Whoever leads the winning party in an election becomes Prime Minister (although they need to form coalitions with smaller parties to govern). No party would dump its leader immediately after winning an election. If they lose, they almost certainly do (Jenny Shipley was rolled after the National Party's loss in 1999, Bill English was rolled after he lost big in 2002 and Don Brash was rolled after he narrowly lost in 2005).

If Labour wins the election, they may still change leaders before the next election in 2011 (and I'd bet that'd definitely happen), but my guess is that Helen Clark would be Prime Minister for a year or so before that happened.

It's true that those who complain about a "nanny state" may vote against Labour, which they would have done in any event (Labour supporters never make that kind of complaint). But even the complainers actually support many or even most of the policies that Labour has, they just want change. Also, the right, like in America, has been expert at framing the debate in their terms. So many people who complain about a "nanny state" have absolutely no idea what that actually means.

That poll you mention is garbage, and I had to write a blog post just about that.