The Listener

Will Jacindamania follow the boom and bust of Schulzomania?

After I read a fascinating article from The Listener comparing Germany's Schulzomania with Jacindamania, it got me thinking - just how bad was the comedown after Schulzomania?

The answer? Pretty bad.

The big rise in the SPD's support from January 2017 to about May 2017 is all to do with Martin Schulz and Schulzomania. However, as the Listener noted, voters eventually realised that as great as Schulz may be, it was still the same old SPD behind him with all the policy and structural issues that had left them in this mess for the last five years.

While it's hard to directly compare countries, New Zealand and Germany are at least somewhat comparable in that we have relatively similar voting systems.

Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Party here do face a similar problem in that despite talk of a policy reset when Jacinda took over, all we've really seen is Grant Robertson recook up Labour's previous ideas of a capital gains tax, tourist tax, and higher income tax bracket, as well as the messaging debacle that is their water tax.

Throw in that in the last week Labour has been hit by three mini-scandals. There was Chris Hipkins' overzealous attempt to help the Australian Labor Party by misusing his Parliamentary position, Labour's recently revealed art donation rort, and a Labour candidate threatening the operators of a night market.

While none of these have impacted Jacinda Ardern directly (though she probably should have sacked Hipkins as Shadow Leader of the House but likely needs his support to stay as leader in the unlikely event Labour doesn't form the next government), it does demonstrate that Labour's habit of shooting itself in the foot just as it gets some momentum isn't going away any time soon.

What I think does work in Jacinda's favour is that these underlying issues with Labour aren't going to be enough to erode Labour's momentum in the next five weeks, even under the intense pressure and scrutiny of an election campaign. Post-election, regardless of whether Labour forms the government or not, Jacinda will be in a position to assert her leadership, clean house, and ensure Labour gains back that formidable internal competence and discipline it had under Helen Clark, meaning that longer term they can avoid what's happened to Martin Schulz and the SPD.