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Hamish McKenzie - list-writer, Ontario

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Haphazard and hazy thoughts on an election not yet decided, by a student trying to find ways to avoid his schoolwork

Labour: Lost Tamihere and, along with him, a great deal of liability. Came out in the best position to form a government. Down two seats from 2002 [thanks to Graeme Edgeler for reminding me of Tariana's defection]. Not a bad showing, but it could have been so much more. That one seat difference between Labour and National means New Zealand will head down a significantly different path. Maori won't be disenfranchised; the principles of the Treaty will be preserved; and perhaps a race relations crisis has been averted. Let's not play about -- that was the major issue of this election. Promised tax cuts helped National hold its core support and win a few more thrifty types, but it was the anti-Treaty policy and "no more special treatment for Maori" rhetoric that really won the voters. That's what put them in the position to challenge Labour in the first place, and that's what catapulted them into a lead in the polls in the last couple of weeks before the election.

National: All things considered, it's been rampantly successful for National. They'll be disappointed they didn't win the most seats, but they came damn close. Very well positioned to pounce on a government that could well crumble in the tough times ahead. Will form a lively and imposing opposition. They bring with them a whole host of new talent, with many potential leaders in their mix, in contrast to Labour, who are lacking on popular and competent figures beyond Clark and Cullen.

NZ First: Winston lost in Tauranga, which has to be a blow to his ego, but his party lives on. Somehow. Winston is the Parliament jester and will always be entertaining -- it would almost have been sad to see him go. NZ First is now in a considerable position of power, even though it brings fewer MPs into the next term. Aside from the initial deal-making stages with Labour (or, a remote possibility, National), Winston's behaviour could well determine whether or not this next government will be a successful one.

Greens: Deserved to do better. Suffered from the two major parties managing to focus this election on tax and race relations, when really this country -- the world, in fact -- needs to be thinking about energy and environment. Sadly, no-one really wanted to talk about that, so the Greens were left to scrap around for attention-grabbers like the Zimbabwe tour, and, perversely helpful for them, the Brethrens smear pamphlets, which kept them in the news. Yeah, you can tell who I voted for, but I don't care. The Greens are going to become a more and more important party as the realities of energy shortages and continued climate change inevitably affect the way we live. And wouldn't it be sad to see Nandor go? Maybe he could play with old-buddy and fellow oustee Craig McNair. Still, those specials could change things significantly for the Greens.

Maori Party: Undisputed winners on the night. Pita Sharples will be a colourful and, I think, valuable addition to Parliament. Hone Harawira will be a shit-stirrer like we've never seen before. Keep your eyes on him -- he will be a very interesting MP to observe. Few have said nice things about the Maori Party, but I'm actually sanguine about their prospects. At least now there's a party that will make sure Maori interests are properly represented. They will bring new perspective to Parliament -- let's just hope it doesn't get ridiculed out of significance.

United Future: Three MPs, on the basis of Peter Dunne routinely winning his obscure seat. Can anyone explain to me why this party deserves to be in such a position of power? And then Dunne has the audacity to insist he will never sit around a Cabinet table with the Greens. Well, Mr. Dunne, the Greens won about 50,000 more votes than your party, so I suggest you leave your inflated arrogance behind.

ACT: I'm happy to see ACT represented in Parliament. Rodney Hide is proving to be every bit the chameleon and entertainer as Winston is.

Jim Anderton's Progressives: Not really much of a party, is it. A one-man-band. Why doesn't he just re-join the Labour orchestra? A bit of a shame to see Matt Robson go, but after his drinking age bill, I can't say I'm too disappointed.