Why Election 2020 could be the year of the protest vote


Talk to Labour MPs privately and you see how nervous they are.

Their ‘transformative’ Government has been everything but. Sure there have been some policy wins, but scratch below the surface and those wins look very shallow.

Jacinda promised transformative Government, we got a chrysalis.

One day it might be a butterfly, but right now it’s a sack of juices that doesn’t fly.

This lack of enthusiasm and grumbling is being heard by Labour MPs as they travel around the country and they have run out of excuses to hand out.

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This Government didn’t expect to win so had no plan when they did. They didn’t have a plan to purge the public service of right wing acolytes and fund it to be service providers as opposed to service managers so the most vulnerable haven’t seen any change to the toxic environments that make state agencies so deeply counter productive.

This creeping cynicism means that when Labour call for the poor to support them again next year, all Jacinda has to offer is ‘we won’t be as mean as National’.

Is that enough to get those beneficiaries queueing at 2am outside WINZ and the 14000 waiting for social housing to the polls?

On the big issues this Government have also disappointed its base. No Capital Gains Tax, no real labour law reforms, Kiwibuild fiasco, not visiting Ihumatao and a Carbon Zero law that won’t do anything about climate change until 2050 all combine to highlight a Government ill prepared to govern.

Likewise for the right, National supporting Gun laws and Zero Carbon have also angered core voting blocks.

Next year I think that sense of frustration and disappointment will make this a protest vote election.

Labour is disappointing its base with a lack of transformative change.

The Greens woke identity politics is painfully alienating.

National keeps angering their voting base with consensus politics and weak leadership.

The problem with NZ is that underfunding due to the 30 year neoliberal experiment has led to enormous generational problems to overcome and consensus policy making waters down any of the solutions into meaningless bullshit. Voters get angrier and angrier with the solutions offered because the solutions don’t solve anything.

I think this protest vote will spill different ways and benefit different parties.

ACT – Their pandering to gun nuts has paid dividends now the Government have over reached with abrasive new gun laws that allow police far too much unchecked power and we will see that combine with ACTs staunch Free Speech position to possibly hand ACT 3 MPs. Will draw male voters off National and Gun nuts.

TOP – Has attacked the ridiculous Zero Carbon Bill for the joke it is and offers far more radical reform on taxation and cannabis than anyone else. Will appeal to National urban voters as National leans harder into social conservatism.

Sustainability Party – For those alienated by the Greens, will take just enough way from them to sink the Greens under the 5% threshold. Will also take some from National but seeing as they won’t get over 5%, that vote will get recycled in part back to National.

NZ First – If Shane Jones takes a hard line on immigration, expect to see NZ First in double digit figures particularly from older NZers.

Māori Party – As Labour continue to make Willie Jackson’s job of winning all the electorates back for Labour harder and harder by giving him crumbs to show for their loyalty, the Māori Party could pick up one electorate seat and bring in an MP from their Party vote as well.

If 2020 becomes a protest vote year, expect to see a Parliamentary overhang and at least 4 Parties to form a Government.


  1. They didn’t expect to win so had no plans. In other words apart from the facade they put up these useless wastes of space exposed who they really were, professional well paid opposition members.

    It is now abundantly obvious they had got real comfortable and I am guessing the objective back in 2017 was at least keep all their jobs and hopefully take another couple off the dole to add to the pile. But the wheels fell off the job preservation plan when the uncharismatic Andrew Little offered even less hope than the collection of Labour Party Inc generated uninspiring leadership that had gone before. And God knows that took some doing!

    I cannot help but feel duped that our then opposition party had little if any intent of doing a days work as a government and were ever so happy to be right where they were, all care and no responsibility.

    I suspect Justin Lester’s rapid fall from grace is the prequel to the real deal come next year.

    • I agree with all of that except that i will be surprised if Labour are not returned to power.
      One term governments are as rare as rocking horse shit.
      Id also say that Martyns statement that some of this garbage might turn transformational over time is grossly optimistic.

    • Exactly right X Ray
      Labour is a bit like the useless kid playing football. He runs along the wing screaming for the ball and on rare occasions when he gets a pass he doesn’t know what to do with it.

      I also sense they are a bit like the Greens, whose unofficial plan is to cycle their mates through parliament, staying there just long enough to get the MPs pension, then go.

  2. A potential Protest Vote is subjective conjecture really, but the Nat’s Social Media campaign is based on that–plus straight out fabrications of course!–so it will likely become a “material force” in the 2020 outcome.

    If the two Referenda help elevate voter turnout, the current Govt. could scrape back in on a “one more chance” basis. And the Greens remain a worry, in that they are not increasing their support in the time of end game climate change.

    Radical action is needed on so many fronts from housing to cleansing the state sector of neo liberalism. Buckling to NZ First is never going to achieve that. If against hope, Labour has a good result in the UK with their Free Broadband and “For the many not the few” approach, that may shine a light on a new direction here. Reaction works harder than a Mordor Orc on maintaining the status quo, so turning that Labour Caucus away from Rogernomics–the task of our era–is a hard one.

  3. I’m curious as to why Martin thinks the TOP thinks the TOP will appeal to mainly National voters. They are the only party planning to seriously address the housing crisis and introduce a CGT (the reasons that I voted Labour last time) with the explicit intention of making housing prices go down, and the only party seriously committed to moving the country’s tax load from the poor to the wealthy who in their own words can ‘well afford it’.

  4. with those choices a very right wing government will be a shoo in .

    may the force be with us because we are going to need it .

  5. Don’t think 2020 will be the year of the protest vote. Maybe 2023 if the Labour-led coalition doesn’t make better advances. Generally accepted that it takes a term to turn the ship around and during this time, no headway will be made.

  6. perhaps it would be better to hold our tongues bite the bullet

    and support them for now . hoping for another term and for some one using the time wisely

    to maybe build a true and strong green alternative .

    I dont think its a good look for the left to be encountering these first hurdles and to be falling apart like we done so often in recent years .


    once we did this and we could do it again .

  7. Its uncanny that after I was washing the dishes and thinking about how unelectable the present government is, Martyn’s article mirrored exactly those thoughts.There is not one party at present that I can in all honesty give my vote to. This is desperate stuff. I believe that to not vote is a dereliction of duty, so who to vote for when I despise them all.
    I am disappointed with Labour, but not at all surprised. Frankly I think we have all been had. I now longer think that Jacinda Adhern is good but ill advised. I think she is a fraud. The Greens then? If Eugene Sage is a Green, I’m Napoleon 111. I was a member of the Greens once. Where did they go? NZ First then? Shaun Jones for President? A man with massive ego and totally untrustworthy.
    And the rest are space fillers.
    In a predicament like this vote for any party that has a policy they would die for. For quite a few years I have supported the ideas of a group called Positiive Money, which believes that only the Reserve Bank has the right to create our money supply. Sadly they are a-political . There is one party that shares that belief – Social Credit. Their vote is miniscule (about 0.01% I think) but they have gone on for decades with their belief, and will persist until they die. At least you cant despise such perseverance. THat will probably have to do.

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