Editorial: Poll gives John Key every chance of a fourth term

John Key looks likely to deliver National a fourth term. Photo / Mark Mitchell
John Key looks likely to deliver National a fourth term. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Politically and economically, New Zealand remains an island of stability in an uncertain world. This country is expecting another good quarterly growth figure tomorrow while nerves jangle overseas at the slightest hint from the US Federal Reserve that it will raise interest rates next week, as it should.

Politically, US voters are toying with their own version of Brexit, contemplating putting in the White House a man who wants to renege on its trade treaties. Here, another ONE News Colmar Brunton poll finds the Government at the same level of support it had at the election two years ago.

With the next election just a year away, John Key looks likely to deliver National a fourth term, the first prime minister to achieve that feat since Sir Keith Holyoake in 1969. That was before the turbulence that shook the economy in the 1970s and the radical reforms of the 1980s and 1990s when the country had 10 prime ministers in 30 years. Since the turn of the century we have had just two in 16 years.

The Clark and Key governments have been remarkably stable, especially considering they have had to operate in a multi-party system.

Undoubtedly, the stability of the reformed economy has underpinned their governments' longevity. That will be why the same stability can be seen in the Labour Party despite another bad poll. Down three points in Colmar Brunton's latest sample, Labour is barely above the 25 per cent it received at the last election.

Ordinarily, this would spell trouble for its leader but Andrew Little seems not about to be toppled. Labour MPs probably sense that as long as the economy remains strong, no new leader could make much headway. Undoubtedly, Labour's next leader is already in its caucus, keeping his or her head down because the time is not ripe.

The poll follows a cold winter of considerable angst about housing, homelessness and immigration, especially the last. The Government has not been at its best as it cast about for temporary accommodation for those sleeping rough or in cars but those problems do not have the electoral implications of high immigration.

The protective "nativist" politics of Brexit and Donald Trump could easily have emerged here on the immigration issue but New Zealand First has risen only two points and Winston Peters has lost a point in the preferred prime minister rankings.

Third and fourth parties usually do better when the main opposition party does badly. The Greens are on 13 per cent and NZ First 11 per cent. Labour would need the support of both of them, and one or two more, to have a chance of governing if an election was held now.

But a coalition led by a party with as little as 26 per cent would not be an attractive prospect. It would have to be a full coalition, not just a confidence and supply agreement between a strong governing party and its partners. On these figures, the Greens and NZ First could claim nearly half the seats in Labour's Cabinet.

No such coalition is in prospect, unless the economy delivers National a shattering blow within the next 12 months.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 05 Dec 2016 06:45:27 Processing Time: 788ms