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New National leader tomorrow ?— and for 2020?

Opinion Piece

The winner of tomorrow’s National Party leadership vote could be handed a poisoned chalice if history is anything to go by.

After falling out of power in 2008 Labour went through four leaders before returning to government with Jacinda Ardern, a selection that seemed dicey at the time but proved brilliantly successful.

During its term in opposition preceding its 2008 win, National also went through four leaders before settling on John Key.

All this seems to suggest that whoever National chooses may not be there even as far as 2020.

The chances of unseating what has been an increasingly popular Labour-led Government at the next election look to have become slimmer lately. To National’s disappointment, Ardern has not had a misstep since taking over and Labour surged to 48 percent support in the latest Colmar Brunton poll, while National slipped to 43 percent.

In this situation a shrewd politician might be happy not to get the leadership role, waiting instead for the inevitable next time. Even the deputy leadership may not be an attractive proposition at present.

This is more so since National has no real option but to play a waiting game, hoping that the differences between the three governing parties will magnify.

Certainly Winston Peters and James Shaw will be looking a little anxiously at the poll trends and may feel forced to show their credibility as standalone parties.

Being part of a coalition government has proved to be the suicide seat for minor parties over New Zealand’s MMP history.

The focus on the National contest has overshadowed the situation with New Zealand First, which will also choose its deputy tomorrow.

Peters is now 73 and there seems to be a consensus building up that this will be his last term in Parliament, although those who know him will not be convinced.

At some point in the future he will have to stand down and a new leader chosen. Shane Jones says he will not stand this time as he is busy with his ministerial roles. Is he another playing the waiting game?