New Zealand switches to Win­nie Time

South Waikato News - - Your Local News - DOMINION POST EDITORIAL

The good news is that day­light sav­ings has kicked off. The bad news is that you lost an hour of sleep you would have needed to re­cover from a roller­coaster ride of an elec­tion, and to pre­pare for what­ever comes next.

Be­cause as one Win­ston once pointed out, this is not the end. It is not even the be­gin­ning of the end. But it is, per­haps, the end of the be­gin­ning.

Na­tional might have emerged the main party on the night but we’re now ob­serv­ing the political equiv­a­lent to a unit of time made fa­mous by mod­ern foot­ball’s most suc­cess­ful man­ager, Sir Alex Fer­gu­son.

For this par­tic­u­larly canny Scot, the 90 min­utes of a match were just the ap­pe­tiser to the main event.

His Manch­ester United sides be­came so adept at win­ning late that any added min­utes in a match be­came known as Fergie Time.

He may have re­cently re­tired but the man­tle of mas­ter strate­gist and time ben­der has passed to an­other sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian, his political brother from an­other mother, Win­ston Peters.

So here we found our­selves, liv­ing in Win­nie Time; an amor­phous mea­sure that could last days but will no doubt feel like weeks.

This bend­ing of time, this play­ing with physics, is set to up­set many things.

If you slept well on Satur­day night, spare a thought for political deputies Kelvin Davis and Paula Ben­nett.

They may have en­joyed the odd glass of bub­bly in cel­e­bra­tion but that will be sit­ting un­com­fort­ably in their stom­achs this morn­ing as the ne­go­ti­a­tions be­gin and Peters bends not only time but political will to ne­go­ti­ate the best pos­si­ble out­come for the am­bi­tions of not only his party but him­self.

What price might Bill English and Jacinda Ardern be pre­pared to pay to se­cure their own slice of his­tory; the former laid much of his in­tegrity on the al­tar of am­bi­tion dur­ing this cam­paign while the lat­ter surely ate into her stocks of ‘‘re­lent­less pos­i­tiv­ity’’. It was truly an odd elec­tion. The cam­paign was ig­nited by the ar­rival of Ardern.

Like a black hole that sucks the light, life and even time from other bod­ies near by, Labour ap­peared to be an un­stop­pable force.

But it was on pretty much ev­ery­one else that the star­dust set­tled on Satur­day.

Bill’s less than plain English about fis­cal black holes and taxes ap­peared to work, leav­ing him at the cen­tre of the political uni­verse; the Greens were sim­ply happy to be still ver­dant and part of the ecosys­tem; and NZ First was over­joyed to be, well, third.

Which leaves the party and Peters, yet again, first in line. And the rest of us trapped in Win­nie Time.

On Satur­day the NZ First leader sought some re­spect, both for the party’s re­sult and the process to fol­low.

With good rea­son, too, be­cause the de­ci­sion is not straight­for­ward: does he grav­i­tate to­wards a ti­dier two-party coali­tion with the larger body sup­ported by the force of pop­u­lar opin­ion, or should he en­ter a po­ten­tially un­sta­ble three­party bloc that rep­re­sents its own force for change.

What­ever the out­come, we hope that this is re­solved long be­fore the clocks move again, back­ward. And we hope that, as Fer­gu­son in­vari­ably did, the coun­try emerges from ex­tra time as a win­ner.

A scene that’s likely to be re­played of­ten in the next week or so.

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