Politics professor says Aotearoa is moving beyond right-wing rhetoric

By Whatitiri Te Wake

With National suffering from leaks and rumoured mistrust, it's no wonder Act's David Seymour is in front of Judith Collins in the polls as preferred PM. But one political analyst is saying that, while the two parties' right-wing rhetoric continues, it may not work in their favour.

Seymour has been described by some as a "great politician" and he is inching ahead of National leader Collins in recent polls for preferred prime ministers. But, despite the new figures and the ACT leader  becoming the face of right-wing politics, he says he is merely the ‘face’ of David Seymour

‘I don't get into any kind of titles, I just listen to New Zealanders and try to create policies that reflect their concerns and aspirations," he said

Last term Seymour came in as the sole ACT MP. This term he was able to wrangle a further nine MPs into Parliament and he will aim to increase that number at the next election.

Crowded marketplace

But Auckland University politics professor Lara Greaves firmly believes the opposition parties need to revaluate their position if they want a shot at becoming the government at the next election,

“The marketplace seems really crowded. We've got David Seymour and Act being quite popular and being further right wing and we've got National being that centre-right opposition and I think they're competing for a limited number of voters.”

“I think we're seeing mainstream Aotearoa moving past that rhetoric.”

A recent UMR poll found Seymour had risen to 12 per cent as preferred Prime Minister, ahead of Collins who was on 10 per cent. With a combined percentage of just of 33% of party votes at the last election, National and ACT have their work cut out for them to try to claw back votes

Voters who disengage

“I can't see a populace movement taking hold for the next little while. I think you would need to get some kind of rhetoric happen around 'oh my rights are going to be taken away' or 'they're not looking out for the little guy. or not following common sense'.

"That would really need to take hold but I can't see that happening in the runup to the next election.”

Seymour, however, is focusing on getting stuck into the task at hand.

“There are a lot of New Zealanders who disengage with politics because they're so overwhelmed with the avalanche of bad regulations and mediocre policies of this government.”

But do either National or ACT see an opportunity of harnessing Māori voters? Greaves says Māori representation could be the key to a win.

“National and Act have the same number of Māori - three - but ACT is a lot smaller so, technically, ACT has more Māori than National. It is trickier to position opposition right wing parties as being racists when Māori are involved,” she says.