In 18 months, memories of March 2019 will have faded but the Coalition’s multiple policy failures will remain.
Far from the 30,000 initially promised, KiwiBuild will have delivered fewer than 1000 new homes in the Government’s first term. The Coalition will be unable to agree on a capital gains tax. There will be no upgrade of the China free-trade agreement given NZ First’s adamant opposition to liberalising rules around Chinese investment.
Even on Ardern’s signature issue of child poverty, the numbers will continue to head in the wrong direction unless, ironically, the downturn is so severe that the median wage falls.
Most decisive, Labour stands at huge risk of being injured by NZ First’s death throes.
And if Ardern did call a snap election, it would remove NZ First from Parliament meaning if she won the election she could have a pure Labour or Labour/Green Government that could implement everything NZ First has blocked them on.
Clark’s decision to go early after the Alliance split over Afghanistan would have paid off had she not been victim to one of Nicky Hager’s far-left election-year attacks, on that occasion over her pro-science stance on biotechnology.
In March 1991, after his perfectly executed liberation of Kuwait by a coalition of 39 nations, George HW Bush achieved a favourability rating of 89 per cent, the highest in Gallup’s history.
He was so popular no serious Democrat even sought their party’s nomination. A year and a half later, in an economic downturn and unable due to political circumstances to progress domestic policy, he was beaten by the previously obscure Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, who based his campaign on the internal slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid”.
Unlike Bush, Ardern has the option of calling an early election. She would be wise to give it some thought.
The comparison to Bush is a good one. In times of crisis, countries rally around their leader. But if the economy falters, people then vote on hip pocket issues.