Just three years after Jacinda Ardern’s landslide victory in New Zealand, the Labour Party has collapsed, polling half as many voters as it did last time. With over three-quarters of the votes counted, Labour is on 26%, National is on 40%, the Greens 10%, ACT (low taxes) on 9% and the Māori Party on 2.5%. Nicholas Sheppard in the Spectator explains what went wrong for Ardern’s party.
Astonishingly, Labour lost the electorate of Mount Albert, the seat of three former Labour prime ministers: Jacinda Ardern, Helen Clark and the abiding saint of the Labour Party himself, Michael Joseph Savage. Savage was an icon of the party during the depression and world war two.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins took over in January, and was initially warmly received. His easy-going, subdued appeal, combined with a managerial approach to governance, seemed to strike the right chord after the loftier but somewhat abstracted idealism of his predecessor, Ardern. But the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, a blemished agenda and to a lesser degree, an inchoate wariness of identity politics and ‘wokeness’ ultimately made his task too difficult. He also presided over a succession of ministerial mishaps resulting in firings and reshufflings.
Nobody particularly dislikes Hipkins – he is regarded as decent and unpretentious – it’s just that his administration gave the impression of muddling along and not offering any particular rationale for re-election.
Former prime minister Sir John Key said: “In 2020, Jacinda delivered a result I didn’t think was possible under MMP (mixed-member proportional voting). But, [Labour has] gone from that to losing half their caucus. It’s pretty brutal.”
The final results will not be reported for another three weeks. Plenty can change between election day and when the verified results are declared. In 2020, 488,776 people cast valid special votes, which are ballots returned by voters who can’t attend their polling station on the day of a vote. They can be returned up to 10 days after an election and still be valid. These types of votes accounted for 16.9% of all votes cast in the last election.
Worth reading in full.