2017 election will be defining moment for Peters’ NZ First

EDITORIAL

A sense of barely suppressed triumphalism was evident at New Zealand First’s national conference in Dunedin, as the party looks ahead to the 2017 election that will be a major defining moment for it.

Polling continues to show the party in a position where it could be kingmaker in the formation of the next government.

Peters alluded to this with a statement that he would not be approaching other parties after the vote — he expected them to approach him.

In the meantime he is continuing a strategy that has worked well for him in recent times, namely concentrating on regional New Zealand.

He has been speaking widely around the country, often to packed halls that would be the envy of other politicians.

Peters says he intends to target two National-held electorates, Whangarei and Whanganui, and New Zealand First “could have more seats in 2017 than people could imagine”.

In politics you can never count your chickens before they hatch, as the 2014 election showed, but it is a case of so far, so good for NZ First at present.

Peters is now 71 and while he remains one of the best speakers in New Zealand politics, he has been in the House, except for a voter-imposed three-year break, since 1978.

Speculation continues as to how NZ First will fare when its charismatic leader finally stands down.

Rumours that former Labour Cabinet Minister Shane Jones will retire from the diplomatic service to join the party have so far come to nothing. Certainly he would give the party a boost. The general public would struggle to name any of the rest of the NZ First caucus.

For a party that has been in power for three terms, National continues to ride high in the polls but all three of its coalition partners face a struggle to retain the electorate seat they need to keep them in Parliament and in government. National must therefore regard Peters as both a threat and a potential lifesaver — hard though that may be to swallow for many party members.

A sense of barely suppressed triumphalism was evident at New Zealand First’s national conference in Dunedin, as the party looks ahead to the 2017 election that will be a major defining moment for it.

Polling continues to show the party in a position where it could be kingmaker in the formation of the next government.

Peters alluded to this with a statement that he would not be approaching other parties after the vote — he expected them to approach him.

In the meantime he is continuing a strategy that has worked well for him in recent times, namely concentrating on regional New Zealand.

He has been speaking widely around the country, often to packed halls that would be the envy of other politicians.

Peters says he intends to target two National-held electorates, Whangarei and Whanganui, and New Zealand First “could have more seats in 2017 than people could imagine”.

In politics you can never count your chickens before they hatch, as the 2014 election showed, but it is a case of so far, so good for NZ First at present.

Peters is now 71 and while he remains one of the best speakers in New Zealand politics, he has been in the House, except for a voter-imposed three-year break, since 1978.

Speculation continues as to how NZ First will fare when its charismatic leader finally stands down.

Rumours that former Labour Cabinet Minister Shane Jones will retire from the diplomatic service to join the party have so far come to nothing. Certainly he would give the party a boost. The general public would struggle to name any of the rest of the NZ First caucus.

For a party that has been in power for three terms, National continues to ride high in the polls but all three of its coalition partners face a struggle to retain the electorate seat they need to keep them in Parliament and in government. National must therefore regard Peters as both a threat and a potential lifesaver — hard though that may be to swallow for many party members.

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