NOTE: You will find strong opinions here. Some of them
I don't fault them for thinking that. As of late we appear to be the last functional representative democracy left, with strongmen on the march and the leaders of the Western World appearing weak, feckless and incompetent. But as great a place as we are, we're not perfect. Jacinda's politics of "kindness" are all well and good, but apart from the immediate crises - which she has responded very well to - the last three years have not produced much in the way of results. Housing is still in shortage and chronically overpriced. Child poverty is still rising. Very little has been done to decarbonise our economy or restore our environment. And while her COVID package did ensure most Kiwis kept their jobs during the lockdown, it was all very business focused, rather than on bailing out the people. As a result, our rich/poor divide has grown further.
But despite her glaring faults, she's currently on track to win re-election, by virtue of the fact that people want stability in a turbulent time, and she did successfully guide us through the pandemic where most other countries have failed spectacularly. Kiwis appear willing to give her one more chance to prove herself.
The right-wing National Party is currently in a nadir of fortunes as they've had three leaders in the space of a year, with Judith Collins currently in charge. Despite her vicious nickname of "the Crusher" (her time as Police Minister had her threaten to crush the cars of boy racers), she's become less and less effective at putting a dent in Jacinda's popularity. Ever since Key left, the party has appeared to be rudderless.
The neoliberal ACT Party, on the other hand, has never been more popular - to my surprise and utter disgust. The minor party is leeching support away from National and is increasingly popular with the Asian community. You'd think after the disasters that 2020 has given us, people would wake up to the fact that neoliberalism is a failure and needs to be replaced.
The Greens and New Zealand First are the current coalition partners of Labour as of this writing, but if the polls are right (and I maintain scepticism there), NZ First may be on the way out while the Greens are set to take a dip in popularity. Despite NZ being an MMP system, people still appear to think in terms of winner-take-all, and the voters appear to be punishing the Greens - and especially NZ First - for the failures of the coalition government. For the first time in a quarter century, Labour may even gain enough votes to govern alone. If this happens, it'll be a possible game-changer, since the whole purpose of MMP was to make sure that one party couldn't gain a full monopoly of power. Labour would have an unprecedented mandate to push whatever it wants without obstruction or dealings with any smaller parties. If that happens, Kiwis will want a true transformation of the country - they'll look at the victory and say that Labour now has no excuses and has to implement real, tangible changes to get us through the pandemic and prepare for the challenges of this century.
OH, almost forgot we have two referendums on top of the election. One to decide on legalising assisted dying, the other on legalising cannabis. At the moment, it looks like assisted dying will pass, but cannabis will remain illegal. We'll know for certain on 30 October when all the votes are counted, but these shouldn't have been put up for a referendum. They should have been decided in Wellington by our representatives and experts, where information on these subjects is more readily available. Leaving it to the public has only resulted in a deluge of misinformation and fear mongering, as you can expect with social media. To me, a referendum is just the government asking the public to do its job for them.
Labour hasn't just won, they've achieved the holy grail of NZ politics: An outright majority. If they so choose, Labour can govern alone without any input from the minor parties, as would normally be the case in an MMP system. There's a major advantage in that they won't have to wheel and deal like they did last time, but it seems likely that they'll still join up with the Greens anyway, if only to further choke the Opposition and starve them of potential allies.
NZ First is gone, ACT is equal in size to the Greens and the Māori Party is back with one seat. Labour has had its best showing in 50 years, while National has had one of its worst ever. Granted, we still haven't got the special votes in, which will probably shift the seats around a little more, but let's be real here. This entire election has been a bloodbath for National, and it's a complete reversal from their dominance only four years prior.