The election date

February 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

TVNZ report:

Prime Minister John Key gave his clearest hint yet that the general election is likely to be held before the G-20 global leaders’ meeting in Brisbane, in mid-November.

He told his weekly post-Cabinet press conference that it would be preferable not to leave the country to attend the high-powered meeting of the world’s most powerful 20 economies, which Australia has invited New Zealand to attend this year.

Describing the G-20 as a “complicating factor”, Mr Key dodged questions about exactly when the election could be, but was lukewarm on attending an international meeting during the course of an election campaign.

“You can do anything you want to do, but I just don’t think that’s likely,” he said. Asked whether that meant an election would be before the Nov. 15 meeting, Mr Key replied: “Or after.”

However, the situation is all the more complicated by the fact that Mr Key has invited several of the world leaders heading to Brisbane to make flying visits to New Zealand around the time of the G-20, including US President Barack Obama.

If they arrive before election day, their presence could be criticised as designed to influence the election, while also requiring much of the Prime Minister’s and other senior politicians’ campaigning time.

If held after the G-20 meeting, a four to six week election campaign would push polling day into Christmas or beyond.

Under the Electoral Act, the latest date for the election is around mid-January, but conventional wisdom dictates that is a terrible time to hold a general election.

Okay lets looks at what dates are probable and possible. First what is the last possible date.

Parliament expires on Wed 17 Dec 2014. Writs must be issued by Wed 24 Dec and returned within 50 days which is Thu 12 Feb 2015. You need two weeks or so to count special votes so the last possible date is Sat 24 Jan 2015.

However let us assume that an election after Christmas is undesirable, and that you also want final results before Christmas which means an election no later than Sat 6 December.

Now election campaigns tend to be from four to six weeks in length. That means the campaign would start 8 November at the latest. So it is hard to see the election being after the G20 meeting unless you have a three week campaign only (or have the PM overseas for some of the campaign).

So when could the election be if before the G20? You could have it on Sat 1 November but there may not be a clear election outcome by 15 November (especially if Peters is involved).

The Saturday before (25 October) is Labour weekend, and apart from not wanting to give Labour a campaign slogan (Vote Labour on Labour Weekend) having so many people on holiday would be a problem.

Sat 18 October is possible. The All Blacks do play the Wallabies that day but it is in Australia so not as major a factor as if it was in NZ.

So I’d say 11 or 18 October are pretty likely dates. Of course as a pollster I’d be happy with 24 Jan 2015 :-)

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27 Responses to “The election date”

  1. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    hmmm ill be surprised if the choose to clash with the all blacks.

    930pm kick off – there wont be enough people watching the victory speeches, no politician likes that :D

    Oct 11 for me.

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  2. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    I don’t see why an away match for the All Blacks should prevent us from having an election. There might be a few thousand Kiwis going to Aus to watch the game by early voting is common now.

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  3. Nigel Kearney (1,019 comments) says:

    Those winter elections we had in the Clark era were excellent and we should try to go back to that. Who wants to spend their summer campaigning? Also, I saw fewer fat labour unionists out trudging the streets when the weather was freezing cold.

    But why should it be before the G20? The free publicity is one the benefits of incumbency and counteracts the opposition’s main advantage of not having their policies tested by experience. Key should not be afraid of using that advantage and surely doesn’t want to turn up at the G20 having just lost an election.

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  4. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    The game will be in the evening our time so I do not see the match clashing. 18 oct seems fair enough. John key seems to gave dropped the idea of announcing it early. Why I wonder. I thought it was a good idea as it gave plenty of time to organise and there is minimal tactical advantage with the uncertainty.

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  5. Andrew (84 comments) says:

    “Of course as a pollster I’d be happy with 24 Jan 2015.”

    Ha! For the sanity of myself, my wife, and my kids, I’m hoping you’re right about the October dates.

    Mainly though, I’m hoping it’s not the weekend after Labour weekend.

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  6. Longknives (4,764 comments) says:

    So the whole nation must shudder to a halt because the All Blacks are playing yet another test against Australia?

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  7. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    Political polls taken through the Christmas/New Year/holiday period for a 24 Jan election would be even more misleading than usual.

    A plus would be having the politicians working through a traditional time off period rather than through a more productive time of year.

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  8. Steve Wrathall (284 comments) says:

    October vs. January. Three more months of troughing. What’s not to like?

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  9. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Nigel Kearney why would Key be going to Aus as leader of the opposition ?
    Or have the Aussies only invited their conservative brethren from NZ ?

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  10. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    Longknives – correct. Just like the rest of the world, our great nation will come to a halt when the worlds best sports team is playing.

    If you thought the superbowl was big yesterday, wait til you see this years beldisloe!

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  11. homepaddock (408 comments) says:

    October 11th is the last weekend of the school holidays when lots of people could be on or returning from holidays.

    The last couple of weeks of a campaign are the most intense – it would be much harder to get and keep people’s attention when they’re on holiday.

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  12. arkhad (68 comments) says:

    The mood of the nation is good and the left are still in a shambles. Why not just call a snap early election and be done with it.

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  13. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    “The mood of the nation is good and the left are still in a shambles. Why not just call a snap early election and be done with it.”

    Also, the economy slows before an election. why drag it out?

    Then again, the longer the people have cunliffe in their faces, less votes for labour :D

    I guess the greens will only roll out norman? not the other one whos so large she requires custom clothes..

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  14. smttc (752 comments) says:

    Key is all over the shop at the moment.

    First he says he won’t rule out NZ First but a deal with them is unlikely.

    Then he says NZ First’s result in the recent 3News poll is unlikely to be replicated on election day and if people want a continuation of the last 6 years then they need to go and vote for National.

    And then he says a deal with NZ First could involve giving Winston Peters a significant cabinet post.

    FFS, he should have just ruled the guy out. The mixed messages are alarming.

    And now he is pissing around with the date for the election.

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  15. JMS (331 comments) says:

    An early October election.

    Those opposed to a flag referendum will be pleased.

    Unlikely the Electoral Commission can make that date.

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  16. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    I recall Julia Gillard giving almost 9 months notice of the election date in Aussie. I suspect John Key knows when the election will be but is playing games. What a statesman!

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  17. kevn (2 comments) says:

    ‘Sir’ Winston Peters will behave on cue…

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  18. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    ross69 – our election is likely to be in about 9 months and Key has said he will advise the date soon. He gave plenty of notice of the last election too, unlike previous Prime Ministers who did play games with election dates.

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  19. OneTrack (3,114 comments) says:

    “I guess the greens will only roll out norman? not the other one whos so large she requires custom clothes..”

    Not at all. Turei will be the co-Minister of Finance. Anything else would be racist and sexist and the Greens wouldn’t agree to that.

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  20. chris (647 comments) says:

    I suspect John Key knows when the election will be but is playing games. What a statesman!

    As usual with Rossie, it’s OK when his side does it but not when the other does (not that there’s any indication John Key is playing games at the moment). Helen Clark was very good at playing games with election dates.

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  21. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    chris

    Helen Clark was very good at playing games with election dates.

    Yes but remember that in the eyes of a myopic lover of self serving corruption – It’s different when their team do it.

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  22. iMP (2,387 comments) says:

    Agree DPF, Sat 6 Dec. is the most feasible latest date (because who wants to campaign over Christmas? and voters are on holiday.)
    Possible campaign kickoff is therefore 01 November to 06 Dec (if JK selects the feasible latest date).

    Other options for Election Day (working backwards from 06 Dec):
    29 November
    22 November
    15 November

    15-16 November is the G20 in Brisbane. JK has already hinted he might not go to G20 as an Aust. guest.
    US President barack Obama is a possible to visit NZ for golf soon after the G20 from Brisbane. I believe J.Key would want that visit pre-election, preferably just before (ie a 22 Nov election). However, Obama is highly unlikely to come to NZ just before an election campaign; and National would be criticised for using him for that. That mitigates the late Nov. dates.

    JK is more likely to be bold and expect to win and hold the NZ election BEFORE 15 Nov., and then attend G20 as the newly re-elected NZ PM and then have Obama (elected the same month as he was 2008) come to NZ (Obama likes winners). Remember, this is likely to be JK’s last term, and is Obama’s last term, so JK has to cement this relationship now, or not at all. A pre-15 Nov election date is more likely, and fits JK’s personality, so mitigates for pre-15 Nov options.

    08 November
    01 November

    These dates (walking back 6 weeks) allow the campaign to run through the school holidays when many are on holiday, but that in itself is not a hinderance to campiagning.

    25 October (Campaign 13 Sept – 4 Oct)
    18 October (All Blacks in Oz, Bledisloe) So what? (Campaign 06 Sept- 4 Oct)
    11 October (last week of school holidays; people still on holiday). So what? (Campaign 30 Aug – 11 Oct)
    04 October (campaign 23 Aug – 4 Oct).

    With MMP and a possible result depending on NZF and other coalition negotiations, results may be delayed. So that would mitigate for an earlier October date. But if National has the largest result, and JK is still PM, he can still go to G20 and invite Obama back even if the result of the 51st parliament and Govt. is in question.

    I think economic news is good and Labour has all the running to do, so JK may elect to have an early October election, which gives David Cunliffe less time to improve and gather his allies and puts space on G20 and Obama coming over the Tazzie.

    4 or 11th October 2014 is my pick.

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  23. Matthew Hooton (131 comments) says:

    The APEC Leaders’ Meeting is in October in Beijing. Look to election in September.

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  24. Paulus (2,632 comments) says:

    As a hypocrite I could not care a stuff who or where the All Blacks play rugby, or when.
    Yes – I dislike professional Rugby, as do many other people in New Zealand but we have to keep our mouth’s shut as we are considered unclean.
    It is far more important that we have a National Government as soon as possible.

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  25. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Key waits till January. He would get the publicity and profile of attending G20, APEC etc. He gets a good long run of positive economic performance for the year leading up to the election and all those soft news cycle end of year retrospectives etc which would probably benefit the government.
    Running an election over the summer holiday period would likely see a big drop in voter turnout – but the conventional wisdom is that a low turnout would benefit National and hurt labour. Just look at the last election, one of the lowest voter turnouts ever and Labour was decimated, National’s vote held solid on 1.05million but because the total vote count dropped by over 100,000 increasing National’s vote share from 45% to 47%.

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  26. iMP (2,387 comments) says:

    Matthew, Jenny Shipley tried the APEC trick (LookatMoi with World Leaders); it didn’t work (about as effective as Mike Wall’s ICanRunFasterThanPeterSnell trick). Sept. election means teams campaigning through late July-August which is winter. Wait, that’s brilliant…

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  27. MH (762 comments) says:

    Can’t wait,have been practising my ballot boxing for weeks already. Cunliffe’s shadow, Shearer takes a mandatory count in the 3rd round,English a bit listless but will come through.

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