Stardust and substance: Election becomes a ‘third referendum’ on Jacinda Ardern’s leadership

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COMMENT: The delay to the New Zealand election date — to which not every country’s citizenry would have adjusted with such alacrity — was only the latest event in a year when the unexpected and the extraordinary have become constant features of a fragile “new normal”. What was expected to be a prime ministerial contest between Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges led, briefly, to one with Todd Muller before settling on a choice between the Prime Minister and Judith Collins. Labour might have set the precedent with its desperate leadership change just weeks out from the 2017 election, but it’s unlikely this was what the National Party had in mind when it first contemplated the dismal opinion poll figures. Advertisement For a country whose politics have sometimes been considered boringly predictable, the prelude to the October 17 election has been anything but. National Party leader Judith Collins speaks to media after helping to put up an election hoarding in Papakura. Photo / Sylvie Whinray So it is virtually impossible to judge the Labour/New Zealand First/Green coalition’s performance by conventional measures. The Government’s original programme — as articulated in the November 2017 speech from the throne — reflected the three parties’ policy preferences, modified by post-election negotiations …

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