Old boxer bounces back
BILL English would surely have breathed the biggest sigh of relief of his life last night.
Despite cracking hardy for the past week, and having his confidence boosted by a couple of favourable polls, he must have had serious doubts whether he could finally put the hoodoo of 2002 back in its box. He has.
Despite flirting with Ardern, voters who looked like they were going to swipe left and stand Bill up on his date with the ninth floor of the Beehive, instead swiped right and set him up for the next three years.
But he won’t have it all his own way.
Even with the rusted on support of Act’s David Seymour, he still needs one more vote in Parliament to govern, based on projected figures.
All the other parties together don’t have the numbers to form an alternative, so it looks like National and NZ First will have to come to some sort of agreement. But with those numbers, Winston Peters doesn’t have the whip hand he would have hoped for.
Peters will drive a hard bargain. The question is how long it will take.
He’s not likely to draw negotiations out for two months, as he did in 1996, but equally he might not snap up the baubles of office like in 2005.
They say winners are grinners, but Ardern has every reason to do her best Cheshire cat, despite being pipped at the post. She’s dragged the Labour Party back from the polling twilight zone of the terrible 20s, and she has a Green Party at her side that just a few weeks ago was staring into the abyss of electoral oblivion.
The world is a far less safe and stable place than it was in the Key years, even with the challenges of weathering the fallout from the 2008 GFC and rebuilding Christchurch.
The world’s most powerful country is being led by a septuagenarian with the personality of a seven-year old, who seems to take perverse delight in poking North Korea. If things go pear shaped in the Korean peninsula, it will affect all our biggest trading partners. Add to that post-Brexit uncertainty in the UK and the European Union, and our economic prospects, firmly pinned on free trade, may not be so rosy.
Bill English will be hoping fervently none of these nightmare scenarios happens. But if they do, he’ll have a hard row to hoe for the next three years, and Bill’s nightmare could turn into Jacinda’s dream in 2020.