New Zealand’s parliament adjourns this week, officially kicking off six weeks of political campaigning ahead of a general election on 14 October. But it seems that Chris Hipkins and his Labour party might find it difficult to maintain their grip on power.
Persistently high food prices at the supermarket, and a string of cabinet mishaps have seen a waning in support for Hipkins’ Labour government. For the first time, he has found himself on a level pegging with Christopher Luxon, the leader of the National party, in the race to become prime minister. Several weeks ago, a poll conducted by pollsters Taxpayers’ Union-Curia, revealed support for the Labour government stood at 27 per cent, while the opposition National and ACT parties commanded 34.9 per cent and 13 per cent respectively – enough support to form a government.
The poll also showed the minor party New Zealand First, led by the ageing populist maverick Winston Peters, above the 5 per cent threshold and returning to parliament. Peters first entered parliament more than four decades ago, and held the balance of power in three elections before being ejected from parliament at the 2020 election. If New Zealand First manages to return this autumn, it would certainly represent an abrupt reversal of fortunes.
A week prior to the Taxpayer’s Union–Curia poll, an Essential poll New Zealand by the Guardian also put the country’s centre-right opposition firmly ahead of Labour. According to the survey, the National and ACT parties recorded the majority support needed to form a coalition government. Labour managed 29 per cent, with their ally, the Green party, polling at 8.5 per cent. Meanwhile, the National party recorded support at 34.5 per cent and ACT received 11.6 per cent. The poll also tipped New Zealand First to return to parliament on 5.3