Should there be a snap election pre-Christmas?

Matthew Hooton thinks there should be a snap election. So does Rob Hosking. Where they differ is the timing.

NBR’s political commentators are squaring off over the merits of a potential snap election being held later this year.

Rob Hosking, NBR’s political editor, says Prime Minister John Key should call an early election,rather than wait until next spring.

“Governments don’t really do a lot in an election year,” he argues.

“We saw that in 2014 and we’re seeing the [effects] of that now as 2014 is when the whole issue of housing supply should have been cranking up but the government effectively spent nine months posing for selfies.”

He says after the local body elections in November would be an ideal time for a central government election.

Political commentator and NBR columnist Matthew Hooton believes waiting until next year would be a better bet for the government.

Although he says there are good economic reasons for the National to call an election at the end of this year, he says there are good political reasons to hold off.  

He says the likely run of by-elections over coming months and the Labour Party’s shambles mean National should let the largest opposition party twist in the wind of another year and allow the decay to become terminal.

“The Labour party is in total disarray with no chance of things improving,” he says.

If fact, he says the Labour Party is “nowhere near the bottom of its cycle.”

“If in fact, it does survive, I think there is a long way down. The party is polling at 25.5%, but it does not have a chief of staff, it does not have a communications chief, it has a leader attacking some of its own activists as ‘right wingers’ and the party has absolutely no money.”

But Mr Hosking says the Labour-Green’s bloc which, although it is “marking a complete hash of it” at the moment, might “get the hang of it over the next 12 months.”

Personally, I believe there is some merit in having an early election. Politicians are squeamish though because of the memories of the “Schnapps Election”.

That said with all the by-elections looming it might be better to clear the decks and clean out some dropkicks at the same time.

Labour are also very, very broke and a general election would break them utterly.

So, both scenarios have merit.

The only question remaining is to see if John Key has the stones to make the big call.

He should have a crack. We put sick dogs down. John Key should put Labour out of its misery early, for humanitarian reasons. Key is a softy who would hate to watch a poor angry animal bleed out in pain.




  • STAG

    Do it, give the Princess the opportunity she’s looking for to jump ship. Labour smashed and broken, Dunn out on his ear, Little without a seat, Winnie not yet ready, Greens? Well we could kiss the material girl goodbye at last.

    So many upsides.

  • XCIA

    What about the public backlash for calling an early election without due cause? OK, if the “support partners” cross the floor, then the government would have a legitimate cause because it has lost the ability to govern, but getting the fickle public out of bed early for no good reason is a dangerous game to play.

    • Sally

      Not sure there would be a backlash if they frame it right. With a couple of by-elections in the wind wouldn’t it be better to say lets have the General Election early and save the costs of by-elections.

      • biscuit barrel

        The have to get the Governor general to agree first, they have been knocked back before when it was tried to have an early election just to maximize your advantage.

  • Greg M

    Go full term. The by-elections will ruin the Labour party and leave them no money and no decent candidates to fight a general election with. Sub 20% is highly likely.

    • biscuit barrel

      national bounced back from 20.5% to nearly 40% in one term. careful what you wish for

      • Aucky

        National had talent in their ranks.

      • Crowgirl

        National had a good clean out and learned the hard lessons of that defeat. I see no sign of Labour doing the same.

  • Boondecker

    I don’t see the need. The outcome is all but inevitable. All we would be doing is bringing forward another round of distasteful noise from the worst of New Zealanders. Why bother?

  • Day Day

    John Key has said himself, “The election belongs to the people” So there will be no playing silly buggers calling it early. That’s more of a Labour/ Clark type of thing.

  • kayaker

    If politicians start tampering with the election cycle now, where will it end? Thin end of the wedge. I remember the Schnapps Election – it was the best thing that happened, but with good cause.

  • Totara

    Yes, it would be fun to watch Labour lose another election. But there are some real down-sides to calling a snap election.

    The sooner Labour lose the next election, the better chance they stand of getting their house in order. Cruel as it may be, I am inclined to think that the longer Key can hold off from calling an election, the longer Angry Little will continue to bleed the Labour Party of any remaining vitality.

    Third-term-itis has always been problematical for governments. But forth-term-itis is going to require huge effort to keep under control. If the Labour Party is deprived of an opportunity to reform itself in time, they might go into terminal decline, in which case it (might) then just be possible to pull off an unprecedented fifth-term.

  • JEL51

    Just had a call, quick 2 min survey asking which party I would vote for in the next,last election, etc,etc.Would I vote for and had I ever voted for NZ First? election

  • Wheninrome

    Where is the euthanasia bill, still in submission stage or could we go for broke. For the good of NZ maybe an early election should be on the cards. If there was more than a hint what say Goff? Confusion all round, but Goff might have to show his leftie hand in advance might see him off.

  • waldopepper

    “spent nine months posing for selfies”. yeah not entirely sure on that there rob. andrew little seems to do the selfie thing a lot. i guess its safe for him as his mouth is generally shut so he cant dig any holes. and metiria seems to do same same while drunk and falling out of a truck – both class acts.

    havent seen national doing anything other than getting on with the business of running the country pretty darned well myself.

  • Nige.

    A shortened electoral term would condense numbers and might make some things look.more favorable ie they were able to do more in a shorter amount of time.

    To what advantage this would be I don’t know.

    Make for good history perhaps.

  • duve

    There needs to be a political situation which warrants an early election, not just an attempt to gain an advantage. The only party likely to benefit substantially would be NZ First.

  • John

    If they used a fall out with the Maori party as a pretext for an early election that may work. Push through with RMA reforms requiring removal of the special treatment of Maoris. NZ First have said they will support it and the Maori Party will be forced cross the floor and, I would guess remove support for National.

  • Keyser Soze

    I see the political benefit (to National) of calling an early election however I despise our 3 year term as it is. There is already enough Parliamentary downtime as it is and having a 6-9 month, nothing gets done, lead in to each election taxpayers are not getting value for money.

    I don’t begrudge our top pollies some decent down time as they’re likely ‘on’ 24/7 but seriously, when was the last public benefit served by Fletcher Tabuteau, Brett Hudson, Kennedy Graham, Alfred Ngaro or Megan Woods? They are dead wood.

    Increase the term to 4 years, cut the number of MP’s by 30%, increase the remaining MP’s pay by 30% and we might start attracting people worthy of the job.

  • JC

    First reaction of people to a snap election could be “Hello.. whats wrong?”

    You’d want something like a national housing “crisis” that could be credibly blamed on local authorities , the RMA and rich nimbyists to justify an early call and you’d want months “prepping the battlespace” to create a feeling of inevitability.

    Every month National stays in power is a month less damage the left would inflict and there would be bitter recriminations for the Nats if like the Aussies an early election backfired.