Where is the open economy?

Where is the faultline the 1980s revolution opened up in politics? Between Labour and the Alliance. That is the underlying reason why they agreed midyear the coalition agreement could be about only process, not policy.

Monday’s skimpy “peace in our time” document is as unusual in its lack of even a general programme as was the National-New Zealand First coalition’s doomed attempt to tie everything down.

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Cuddling up to small business?

How the parties drooled over small business in the election campaign. Did they really mean it? Ask in three years and your answer will likely be no.

Parties ritually proclaim that it is small business that creates most jobs. To this in recent years has been added adulation of high-tech startups as the country’s deliverance.

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Can Labour become the normal government?

Helen Clark has a couple of economically comfortable years ahead, forecasters say. That, some Nationalists are pondering ruefully, might usefully fund a Labour-Alliance re-election spendup in 2002.

But what happens in the economy this parliamentary term has been mostly determined by events in the term just ended. Underlying the boomlet ahead are deeper issues. What happens when United States consumers stop spending and we still haven’t got to the haven of the “knowledge economy” – and what is that anyway?

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Campaign Score card

The Greens stole the campaign. Written off a year ago, struggling all year to break 2 per cent, they are now looking likely to be back in Parliament in greater numbers.

In part this was others’ doing. The genetically modified foods scare was a godsend. Helen Clark, needing an insurance policy, signalled loudly to her supporters to give co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons the Coromandel electorate seat. Jenny Shipley blundered into Coromandel and gave the green bus another shove.

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What distinguishes the next Prime Minster?

The most remarkable element in this election is the unremarkability that the choice of Prime Minister is between two women.

This may be a minor subterranean factor in the rise of the flank parties — some men seeking a man to vote for. But in the media there is no gee-whizz about this extremely rare factor. It seems the country has got used to it.

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Prebble's punch

Is Richard Prebble punching above his weight? He’s acting like a big boy when his party is a littl’un. What’s the game?

On Monday, as Labour basked in the glow of the Waikato University survey’s stratospheric figures and other pollsters were unofficially reporting a lift for Labour over the weekend and wondering whether that was a bandwagon off the Waikato figures, Mr Prebble tried a little poll-bandwagoning of his own.

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"It’s the party vote, stupid."

The flank parties are scooping up party support and leaving National and Labour with an oversupply of electorate support. Both are now trying to neutralise that.

You would expect some excess because the big old parties hold almost all the electorates, a lifetime of an electorate-only choice has ingrained voting habits and incumbents attract cross-party support that does not reflect true party loyalties. Nevertheless, in 1996 National’s two votes were almost identical. Labour’s electorate excess was 2.9 per cent.

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Insiders and Outsiders

What is this election really about, deep down? “Outsiders” and how to make them “insiders”. The instability of our politics of the past 15 years has a lot to do with that.

In the old politics you could walk down a street and roughly pick its political complexion. While individual voters could not be typecast in this way, socioeconomic status was not a bad general guide to choice between the two big parties.

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The New Zealand economy and politics: the revolution and the future

Seminar: America’s Relations with Australia and New Zealand Beyond the Turn of the Century

University of Maryland

Baltimore, 8 November 1999

Abstract: Just as a vigorous flowering of the arts in the 1980s signalled New Zealand’s true emergence as an independent (decolonialised) nation, it energetically espoused neoliberalism, the third radical policy shift in its 160 years of Anglo-Celtic rule. This third “New Zealand model”, which attracted considerable international interest from economists, businesspeople and such diverse politicians as the government of Mongolia, the Japanese House of Councillors and Vice-President Al Gore, is now embedded in policy. But, while the economy is undoubtedly more flexible and robust, it is (for various historical and contemporary reasons) still far short of neoliberals’ high-wage, high-performing ideal and it has left most citizens political “outsiders”, at odds with the “insiders” in the business, bureaucratic and political establishments and this has destabilised politics. Other “outsiders”, the indigenous Maori, are posing demands for power- and resource-sharing which many non-Maori find threatening but which seem likely nonetheless to lead to constitutional change in the next decade. To reconcile these disparate dimensions in a stable society and politics, the search is on for a new political language.

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They're only human

There is Jenny Shipley in an ad telling us she made a mistake! And “brat pack” whiz Bill English likewise! What’s National playing at?

Human — they’re human like you and me. We all make mistakes; they underestimated the Asian crisis and the drought. Mrs Shipley, stern school-marm, has been airbrushed into Jenny, sweet, smiling mumsie-pie.

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