17/05/2018
Dieuwe de Boer
Opinion
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Kym Koloni's One Nation NZ to Contest Northcote By-Election

After losing the general election, a few of the National Party old guard have been calling it quits. This often happens after a government is kicked out of office and often the by-elections are fairly mundane, but the Northcote Electorate, vacated by Jonathan Coleman, looks to be interesting as it features an independent candidate testing the waters for a wider platform: Kym Koloni of One Nation NZ, with the slogan "let's drain the swamp", evoking parallels between both Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump.

If her name sounds familiar, it's because Kym was formerly the NZ First candidate for Northcote in the 2017 election, and made headlines for quoting NZ First official policy on removing separatism and the "principles of the Treaty" from law, which resulted in her being booted from the party.

When it comes to new parties, a by-election can be a great time to test the idea. Gareth Morgan's The Opportunities Party (TOP) got 4.5% in the Mount Albert by-election, which if you adjust for the National Party not running a candidate, was probably a harbinger of their 2.4% in the general election. This means that Kym Koloni is the one to watch, because if she can improve on her 3.7% from last year, then she has an excellent mandate to register the One Nation party and attempt a run at the 5% threshold in 2020. If her support in the area collapses, then it also likely shows that people tend to vote for party over person and her previous support was simply due to the NZ First brand rather that any affinity with her personally.

In addition to abolishing race-based policies, combating separatism, and promoting unity, Kym Koloni wants to reduce immigration to solve the housing crisis and increase direct democracy along the lines of the Swiss model.

Labour and the Greens are re-running their previous candidates, Shanan Halbert (35%) and Rebekah Jaung (6.7%) respectively. There seems to be nothing of note, policy wise, about these candidates.

National's new candidate, Dan Bidois, will have to see if he can hold onto the 52% majority that Coleman had. Like his red and green counterparts, there appears to be nothing spectacular about anything that Bidois brings to the table.

ACT's Stephen Berry will have to see if he can beat the 0.8% that his party's previous candidate got, and perhaps Northcote will be a test to see if Seymour's new strategy of targeting millennials will work. Stephen Berry is also the only one with an actual costed plan to reduce congestion via a second harbour crossing funded with savings from raising the retirement age.

The field is rounded out with a few clowns from the Social Democrats, Legalise Cannabis, and Not A Party, any of which would have an outstanding result if they got above 0.2% of the vote.

In the end, the outcome of this election doesn't really alter the face of parliament, but comparing the results to those of a year ago could provide some useful insight.

If Labour or the Greens lose support it could show dissatisfaction with the coalition government's policies. If Bidois has a close call, or even more shockingly loses the seat, it could spell very bad news for National leader Simon Bridges. If ACT can gain any ground at all, it could spell some kind of comeback to a multi-member party in a few years time. If Kym Koloni can bring in above 5% of the vote then that could make way for a new populist and anti-establishment party in the 2020 election.

We'll be back with some analysis once the results are in on election day: June 9th 2018.