If the opinion polls are to be believed, National looks like securing a massive mandate on Saturday week. But a mandate to do what, exactly?
Rather than pushing new policies, John Key has largely campaigned on National's track record - with the added plea "not to put everything at risk" by opening the door of government to Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First and Internet-Mana or some combination thereof.
The question of whether National actually has any new ideas was highlighted by Bill English's failure to come up with a fresh one for boosting economic growth when asked on TV3's The Nation last Saturday.
For National's opponents, this was further evidence the governing party is devoid of vision and drastically lacking in new and exciting initiatives.
Hauling out National's trusty old friend - tax cuts - only underlined that perception in the minds of critics.
The economy aside, National is not short of policy. Just look at the party's website. But there is little that leaps out and grabs your attention. Moreover, much of the supposed "new" policy has been well flagged.
The absence of big, bold and radical policies fits the "business as usual" image National is trying to project.
Key is playing very safe. There is nothing in National's campaign this time that comes within a coo-ee of the party's 2011 plan to sell up to 50 per cent of the Crown's stake in the three big electricity generators alongside partial sell-offs of shares in Solid Energy and Air NZ.
That policy effectively turned the 2011 election campaign into a referendum on partial asset sales.
That things have suddenly gone relatively quiet on the campaign trail this week is testimony to Key's relentless efforts to shut down issues, replicate popular Opposition policies and ensure nothing bothers or upsets the punters this side of election day.
One of the reasons Opposition parties struggle for traction is that Key and English made the right political decision in softening the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on ordinary people - rather than using it as cover for slashing income support and public services. Voters are not stupid. They could work out that they dodged a rather large bullet and National has thus been rewarded with the votes of those who normally would not give that party the time of day.
That reward remains conditional, however.
Some in National might see a renewed mandate as carte blanche for reform. Key and English will not make that mistake. They know that the mandate they look like getting will be a mandate for the retention of the status quo - not for radical change.
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