At last, after nine years, we have the change of government we need. I think the most telling part of the results is that the winners are the parties that are willing to work with others. The Maori party will work with Labour if that’s what gets their policies advanced, but their leaders (and the constituents will eventually catch up) understand that they can advance under National as well. United Future, setting in the centre, can obviously work with anyone. ACT, even though they are not in the centre, will work with National, but also with other parties (e.g. they agree with the Maori party on many issues). National, obviously, is willing to put all of these pieces together and get something that is hopefully stronger than the individual parts.
I think the TV3 commentators were wrong when they said that ACT had no power being on the right, since National has the Maori party on the centre. The Greens had a significant influence on Labour, even though they are less centre. ACT will be no different, and have their 5-seat influence.
The Greens show up as the real losers. They ended up with more seats, but no power. If they were willing to work with National, like the Maori party are, then they could get things achieved, and appear more magnanimous as well. I really hope that some day the Green party wakes up and realises that caring about environmental issues is not a left or right issue, and straddles both. National and ACT would do positive things for sustainability & general environment issues by actually getting something done. Why is that so much worse than Labour doing positive things by doing a great deal of talking and planning? Why should one’s position in the debate over climate change have anything to do with whether you care about the environment or not?
The other thing that the TV3 commentators got wrong was Clark’s speech – she wasn’t that gracious. She pointedly attacked the National policies. If she was gracious, she could have said something like “I hope that when we come back in 2011 National have managed to safeguard all of the improvements we have made over the last nine years”. Polite about National, but not praising them (just “safeguard”, not improve in any way), but not attacking either, and still putting in the note about the ‘achievements’ that Labour has managed. Key was a much more gracious winner than Clark a gracious loser.
It’s not the result that I was hoping for, but I do hope that Key manages to do a good job, and the meme that I certainly agree with is that this is how democracy works. Although I’m on one end of the new government’s policies, I respect that there are others who are on the other side and we can achieve greatness together. Certainly if Key succeeds (with the Maori party included), then Labour is in a very tight position for 2011 (no NZ First, maybe no United Future, no guarantee of Maori party support, maybe no Progressives, no clear leader yet).
If the Maori party are included (and I hope they are), then it’s the first real MMP government (in my opinion), too – with four parties (National, ACT, United, Maori) working together for real progress. Hopefully National and Labour will both continue to decrease in numbers, and we’ll have a real multi-party government one day.
I wonder if house prices in Australia just dropped