So much for "dirty politics". So much for Nicky Hager, Cameron Slater, "Rawshark", "Whaledump", Kim Dotcom, Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange ... Has the country ever had an election so dominated, or distracted, by people not standing for Parliament, not citizens, not in the country or, in "Rawshark's" case, not even identified?
No matter. Last night the country spoke. It has given John Key a resounding endorsement.
For a Prime Minister to lead his party into a second term with an increased share of the vote is rare enough, to go into a third term with an even higher proportion than last time has not happened since 1925. If Key does not win another election he will stand with our most successful Prime Ministers. But on the strength of his victory last night he has to be given every chance of becoming only the third in our history, with Seddon and Holyoake, to win a fourth election.
Key has said he "doesn't rule it out", though after the unpleasantness and unfairness of much that was done to him in this campaign, it would be understandable if he had already privately decided he will not risk putting himself and his family through such an ordeal again.
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He has been rewarded for his economic record rather than anything he proposes to do. National did not campaign this time on its intentions, unlike the last election when it was committed to an asset sales programme. If National has any plans for its third term it kept them to itself. Its aim is to maintain business confidence with a budget returning to surplus and limited increases in public spending. On that basis, Key believes, "we are on the cusp of something special".
His immediate task is to form a third term Government, for which he may need only Peter Dunne and Act's newly elected David Seymour. But Key will hope the Maori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell joins his next ministry, too. Flavell had a good campaign and has ensured his party can fight another day.
On last night's results, Kay has no need to deal with Winston Peters. For that, 90 per cent of voters will be grateful. Peters has increased his vote at Labour's expense but National has done so well that Peters has been consigned to oblivion. He faces the prospect of another three years in Parliament with nothing to do but raise points of order.
Labour leaked a great deal of support to minor parties, as a big party does when its rival does as well as National has done.
After so much mud was flung, last night was Key's moment of truth, a moment he deserves to savour.