Waiting for Winston – NZ Politics

nz-queenmaker-winston-petersElection-weary Brits should spare a thought for New Zealand where the recent general election has the nation Waiting on Winston Peters as the politician who will decide the outcome.

Peters’ NZ First party holds sway over the close result as the only party that could give either of the mainstream parties (right-of-centre National or left-of-centre Labour) the right to form a government. This could be as a direct coalition or a confidence-and-supply arrangement akin to the Conservatives of Theresa May and their agreement with the DUP in the UK.

Milking it ?

Peters is a long-standing and controversial figure in NZ politics. He has a significant grass-roots following, especially amongst older voters, and has played the role of kingmaker before in New Zealand’s strange mixed-proportional-representation voting system. The latest election took place on 23rd September (UK please note: a Saturday – eminently more sensible than Britain’s Thursday plebiscite !). Peters has been in discussion with the two main parties since results were declared – promising to announce a decision on several dates with today (19th October 2017) as the latest.

The date has slipped a few times and his rather grumpy answers to journo questions smacks more of arrogance than impatience. He could be forgiven for peevishness with the press (NZ media is almost as assinine as Britain’s 4th estate !) but he does seem to forget that he serves the NZ public. Sure, he needs to get a good deal whilst he has swing-vote-power but it does smack a little of Queen-for-a-day rather than Queen-maker. Come on, Winston !