New Zealand and a Grand Coalition - TOP

We’ve been working hard to compare the policies of different parties, and will be releasing our findings soon. Perhaps the starkest finding is that the two parties with the most similar policies are actually Labour and National.



That’s right, the two arch enemies are actually the most similar. And it isn’t really that surprising when you consider they are scrapping over the middle ground. Since the last election Labour has shed any controversial policy such as the capital gains tax, pitching themselves as National-lite. Meanwhile National has been busily watering down and pinching Labour’s policies; such as the plan to build 26,000 new houses (effectively Kiwi-build) and lifting the super age in 2040, so they have become Labour-lite. Now there really isn’t much to set them apart except for the colour of the wrapper.

Incredibly, National and Labour appear to be closer together than the potential coalition partners Labour and the Greens are. While Labour and National fight over who is going to change the least, most of the interesting policy discussion is happening in the minor parties.

Labour and National should really get over themselves, get in a room and form a Grand Coalition. That is effectively what they have been doing for 70 years anyway, with Labour doing the reforming and National protecting the status quo left to them by the previous Labour government.

A Grand Coalition is where the two major parties in Parliament form a coalition. It sounds pretty weird here in New Zealand, but it is actually a popular arrangement overseas. Germany, which also has MMP as a voting system, is currently experiencing their third Grand Coalition since World War Two between the CDU (their version of National) and SPD (their version of Labour). They usually do it for the greater good, and to keep the loony fringe parties from holding everyone to ransom.

Would a Grand Coalition be so bad? Apart from the egos involved, probably not. At least it would keep the far right ACT and regressive NZ First out of the picture. As the NZ Initiative points out it would give a new government the majority they need to tackle the difficult long-term issues New Zealand is facing.

Of course it is unlikely to happen here, with the main barrier being party tribalism. Labour and National party diehards would never countenance such an idea, they are simply not mature enough to see that their approach is so close.

Is the New Zealand public ready to move past this immature, left-right partisanship that is really more of a legacy than anything else? The Opportunities Party (TOP) thinks it is, but we won’t get there with the current crop of politicians. We need a new way of doing things, one that focuses on what works, not which tribe you belong to. 

Showing 6 reactions

  • Oliver Krollmann
    followed this page 2017-06-03 06:40:38 +1200
  • Matt Walkington
    commented 2017-06-01 18:49:46 +1200
    Perhaps I ought to have said: Extreme centrism is then they way we find NZ politics today (and US politics and British politics up until a few years ago before Bernie Sanders, Trump and Corbyn arrived on the scene, and before the Brexit vote).
  • Matt Walkington
    commented 2017-05-30 18:50:20 +1200
    The fact that enables a grand coalition – that National and Labour are so close in policy – is part of a (western) world wide phenomenon. I’d like to use the term extreme centrism (not to be confused with radical centrism) but perhaps there’s a better one. Extreme centrism is then they way we find NZ politics (and US politics and British politics and elsewhere?): major parties that represent different tribes with great historical differences but which offer very little difference in policy. The result is very little real choice for voters and governments that, regardless of colour, are completely absorbed into the neoliberal paradigm (whether they would fake otherwise or not).

    There are some very good reasons this process has occurred slowly and surely over recent decades. High on the list is direct and indirect (sometimes very indirect) corporate influence and the influence of highly concentrated wealth. So we can fairly say that National and Labour have such very similar policies so that the (global) business and investor community doesn’t have to worry about a change of government, or not worry very much. They will get policies that work for them either way.

    Whether ordinary people get policies that work for them depends really on how much they get upset and agitated about the status quo. If people shrug their shoulders and go – no choice why bother – then they will get policies that suit the business and investor community making the most profit.

    There are other factors but this one is right up there.
  • Kevin FitzGerald
    commented 2017-05-30 09:10:36 +1200
    A grand coalition. How depressing. Given that neither party seems remotely interested in addressing fundamental problems where does that leave TOP? Surely driving a wedge between these two would serve the need for change rather better. The Maori party got to have a minimal influence by siding with National. That is never going to be an option for TOP given its policies. Surely it would be far better to work towards a coalition with the Greens and Labour. Assuming of course that TOP can get into parliament.
  • Andrew Turner
    commented 2017-05-29 22:58:01 +1200
    In regards to incumbent parties hesitation in initiating ‘unpopular’ reforms that may be hugely beneficial to the country, would this grand coalition solve this systemic issue to a reasonable extent long term? Or are there better alternatives?
  • Shane Carter
    commented 2017-05-29 21:58:34 +1200
    Maybe now that most of the National and Labour MP’s appear to be career politicians, who would like to appeal to as many voters as possible, and all look the same, because they are migrating to what they perceive as a majority view at the center the public bell-curve of opinion.