In late-July 2017, two months prior to New Zealand’s general election, its Labour Party recorded an historically awful poll result: its 23% popularity was roughly half that of its National Party rival.
By August 1, Jacinda Ardern had replaced Andrew Little as Party leader. Her campaign – based around a promise to address major challenges in the areas of housing, child poverty, water quality and climate change – had a dramatic impact on the Party’s fortunes, and Labour’s final election result was 37%. (Note, though, that support for the centre-left Labour-Green bloc increased by a more modest amount: from 38% in late July to 43%. And National’s election result (44%) was an improvement on its late-July number.)
With the support of New Zealand First, Ardern is now Prime Minister: an outcome that seemed highly unlikely at the end of July.
Continue reading Peter Skilling: Jacindamania 2017, hope & fear on the campaign trail
Public opinion surveys in New Zealand and elsewhere show that most people are concerned about existing levels of economic inequality. The same surveys, however, show a much lower level of support for policies and parties that promise to reduce inequality (especially where there is any mention of increased taxation as part of a response). These findings were confirmed in focus groups that I convened to explore public attitudes towards inequality and redistribution.
Participants in these focus groups – when asked individually – expressed an overwhelming preference for a more equal distribution of income. These same people, however – when engaged in discussion – were easily convinced that the ‘reality of the market’ made their preference for greater equality impossible.
Continue reading Peter Skilling on inequality & market ‘realism’: Why do we want what we’ve got?