Monday, March 10, 2014

And, we’re off!

Today Prime Minister John Key announced the date of the next General Election: September 20. That means 195 days until a new government or more of the same.

In the past, prime ministers have often waited until the last minute to announce the election date, but there’s no particular advantage in doing so. John Key recognised that in announcing the date. In 2011, he announced the election date nine months ahead of time. I think this is a good practice that I hope all future prime ministers follow.

The complicating factor this year is that Australia has invited New Zealand to participate in the G20 meeting they’re hosting, and if the election was held too close before it, we might not have a government formed when the meeting take place. If it was after that, it would give the current government an unfair advantage, particularly because the campaign would be taking place while the current prime minister was at the meeting. Holding the election in September avoids all those problems.

Parliament will rise on July 31, and the actual election campaign will begin. Restrictions on spending will begin three months before the election campaign.

NZ Labour's social media response to the election date.
However, none of the political parties wait for the start of the actual campaign to begin their work for the election: They’ve all been doing a lot of things, like selecting candidates in various electorates, sending out MPs to give speeches, etc. They also use social media, of course, such as the graphic at right, which Labour posted to Facebook and Twitter.

This past Saturday, a canvasser for the NZ Labour Party stopped by our house. In the 18+ years I’ve lived in New Zealand, I’ve never seen anyone from ANY party doing that. They were doing this around the country, too. From my perspective as a Labour supporter, that’s a very good thing to see because it means that they’re taking their “ground game” very seriously.

I love elections and electoral politics, and have for as long as I can remember. I love it best when the side I support wins, of course. I have 195 days to help make sure I love the results of this election.


rogerogreen said...

I'd have to get used to these "random" election cycles.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Funny you should mention that: It's been proposed (several times) that we go to a fixed-term Parliament. My concern about that is that one of the strengths of a parliamentary system is that if a government goes too far and loses the confidence of the House, it falls and new elections are held. That has to be possible or else the parliamentary system itself would be far weaker. And, if a government can fall, causing new elections, what's the point of changing?

Personally, I don't see anything that's broken, so I don't see that we need to "fix" anything.