Prime Minister has the Beehive in the bag — 2020 General Election

Figure 1: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

 

New Zealanders have witnessed partisan nonsense from both sides of the House of Representatives during the Covid-19 pandemic. Ranging from Hamish Walker’s disgraceful letter about quarantine arrivals, Michelle Boag’s woeful decisions, David Clark’s resignation as Health Minister, and in addition blunderous border management by few incompetent Cabinet Ministers. Whilst such partisanship is not surprising to me in politics, the severity of some of these scandals leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. Instead of focusing on the main task of keeping our team of 5 million safe from Covid-19, many politicians in Parliament would rather shoot cheap shots at one another. During the midst of all of this, the centre-left Labour Party will almost certainly win the election and the main key asset for this instrumental task is the Prime Minister herself. 

Why do I think the Prime Minister will win? Multifaceted reasons. I’ve known the Prime Minister for a few years beginning in 2016 when I volunteered for the NZ Labour Party initially as a young undergraduate at The University of Auckland. She has always had the personal charm and likability to woo, charm, and make people feel important. I am sure the late Dale Carnegie would approve of her social competence. Without her, the Labour Party would still be in opposition under Andrew Little or some other Labour leader in another universe. Jacinda was the only person that would have had the abilities and leadership qualities to lead Labour to victory, which she did in the 2017 General Election. It was no wonder that for years people touted her as the next leader of New Zealand before. Now as the incumbent, I expect her to win.

Why do I think the Prime Minister will win? Multifaceted reasons. I’ve known the Prime Minister for a few years beginning in 2016 when I volunteered for the NZ Labour Party initially as a young undergraduate at The University of Auckland. She has always had the personal charm and likability to woo, charm, and make people feel important. I am sure the late Dale Carnegie would approve of her social competence. Without her, the Labour Party would still be in opposition under Andrew Little or some other Labour leader in another universe. Jacinda was the only person that would have had the abilities and leadership qualities to lead Labour to victory, which she did in the 2017 General Election. It was no wonder that for years people touted her as the next leader of New Zealand before. Now as the incumbent, I expect her to win.  

Jacinda is the most charismatic, likeable, and respectable politician that I have personally witnessed. The masterful political marketing on social media, her genuine smile and exceptional communication skills are nothing short of remarkable. If there was a textbook that I would use for my hypothetical communication class, I would use her as the main role model. I know rarely anyone besides her in the Labour Party with this kind of talent. Some may even claim that she was born for the role…perhaps. This is the key factor that will win her the election. Simply put, the New Zealand public really likes her. The Covid-19 pandemic also may have helped her in the polls, as incumbents tend to do better during crises. Evidenced by President George W. Bush’s approval rating skyrocketing to above 88% during 9/11. But the personable qualities of the Prime Minister helped the Labour Party to climb well above National today. Her identity also shaped her likeability, especially for a small, young and progressive country like Aotearoa. As a female who is young, attractive, relatable, and extremely charismatic, she had all the cards that helped her seem relatable. 

In contrast, National has not had anyone on a similar level as Ardern since Sir John Key. Although Simon Bridges is very good when you meet him privately, however, on television and social media, he didn’t have that key spark required to get people on your side. His negative approval rating and his image as a bitter, resentful person hasn’t helped. Although his successor Todd Muller has a positive net approval rating but is someone known as a simple ‘boring old white guy’. Neither does he have personal social competence equal to the Prime Minister and I expect him to be out once the election is over. Until National find a person as equally sociable as Jacinda, they will struggle for years to come. The Key/English years are over, and they must find a long term solution to this missing gap in National’s leadership. The other alternative is for the current leadership self-improve themselves on the basis of mimicking Jacinda’s abilities. The rebuilding stage needs to happen now. For now, they can hope for at least 35% to save most of the caucus, but the pinnacle difference between the two major parties is charisma and charm of the leadership. 

Why do I think the Prime Minister will win? Multifaceted reasons. I’ve known the Prime Minister for a few years beginning in 2016 when I volunteered for the NZ Labour Party initially as a young undergraduate at The University of Auckland. She has always had the personal charm and likability to woo, charm, and make people feel important. I am sure the late Dale Carnegie would approve of her social competence. Without her, the Labour Party would still be in opposition under Andrew Little or some other Labour leader in another universe. Jacinda was the only person that would have had the abilities and leadership qualities to lead Labour to victory, which she did in the 2017 General Election. It was no wonder that for years people touted her as the next leader of New Zealand before. Now as the incumbent, I expect her to win.  

However, the Labour Party have a clear competence problem within its hierarchy. The Prime Minister has been exceptional as a communicator throughout the pandemic, illustrated in her excellent press conferences with Dr. Ashley Bloomfield. But you cannot run a country well without a great team. There is a reason people like Clare Curran and David Clark were targeted by the opposition – they were incompetent. Period. 

Although there are a few very competent Ministers such as Grant Robertson, David Parker, Kris Faafoi, and the new Health Minister Chris Hipkins — on top of his three additional portfolios. After the election, they need to build a broadly new cabinet with the competence, skillsets and abilities to keep New Zealand safe, not just from Covid-19, but also from our precarious economic position. The Prime Minister may be able to rely on her sociability for now, but she must be far more decisive in either sacking or removing incompetent people in Cabinet. As Machiavelli once said, “He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.” I’m glad to see the addition of Epidemiologist Dr. Ayesha Verrell in Parliament soon and I know she will make a good contribution for New Zealanders. Hopefully, Ardern realises soon that incompetence will get punished in the next poll in 2023. 

The Prime Minister has this in the bag, for now. But until the actual election results, we won’t find out until October.  

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