My generation is no longer their generation

The rise of Jacinda Ardern and the resignation of Peter Dunne show New Zealand’s political scene is heading towards a generational change, writes Tim Watkin.

A stark difference has arisen between the two major parties in recent days – one doubling down on old ways and another bursting with new generation vibes. Peter Dunne’s resignation reinforces the sense that generational change is coming.

But when? Is this it?

At some point this era of New Zealand politics will come to an end. The long chapter that began in 1984 and which has been dominated by baby boomers and neo-liberalism will be re-shaped by a new generation of thinking and voters. We will get a transformation election and a change of heart.   ….

This isn’t change out of crisis, as in ’35 and ’84, but the sense of a new generation arriving is strong.

It’s the vibe of it?

It’s worth noting that for the first time at this election, more millennials will be eligible to vote than boomers. At long last, those who have lived in the shadow of that generation have the chance to take control and change the government’s priorities.

Yes, the change is more incremental this time, which may mean voters see it as less urgent, if not less inevitable. Whether it plays out to fruition now or in three years, it seems Ardern, out of nowhere, will be the vehicle for this change. The Ardern years are coming, it’s just a question of when we want them to start.

The sign is there in the pulling power of Ardern, sparking hour long queues outside the Auckland Town Hall for the party’s campaign launch on Sunday, or – if Twitter is to believed – the equally long waits for selfies in Tauranga yesterday.

Is there a genuine generational change in politics?

Or is this just the media’s wishful thinking, again?   You know, no matter what we do, no matter what we say… version 2017.

I have a deep belief in the sensibility of the voter.   And they are not going to want change for its own sake.

It may sell advertising, generate clicks and pageviews, but it’s no basis to choose who runs a country.

– Tim Watkin, RNZ


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