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23 predictions for 2023
Here are 23 things you can mock me about over the next twelve months.
I am in two minds about political reporters (or former ones) doing predictions.
On the one hand, I think they introduce some welcome accountability to the profession. If your predictions are printed in a prominent enough place people can go back and check them once the year is out, and decide if you got things wrong for the right reasons or the wrong ones. Because you will always get some stuff wrong.
They are also a tradition, and I love traditions. At my old job we’d do them as a team every year, and then go back and mark them - here are the predictions I was last a part of making. My friend Thomas Coughlan did some marking of them with me on his podcast, and if tradition holds the official Stuff marking should be published in a few days, alongside the team’s predictions for 2023.
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On the other hand, the whole idea kind of leans into that notion that we are reporting on a particularly complex sport, rather than the operation of power - that the ultimate stance one needs is one of detached but knowing irony. Politics, even in quaint little New Zealand, involves decisions about how to use the deadly force the state has a monopoly over, and how to distribute scarce resources among needy groups. It isn’t tiddlywinks, even if it is often ridiculous.
Plus you sometimes get made to look like an idiot when making predictions. This is something Chlöe Swarbrick has never let me forget.
I have not come to a final take on this, but since I ended up making some predictions on Thomas’ podcast anyway, I’d be a coward if I didn’t publish them properly too.
Predictions for the 2023 election
Why not start with the big stuff?
The result of the New Zealand general election will not be completely clear on the night, as the difference from the yet to be counted “special votes” will be potentially crucial to deciding who governs. Special votes are counted at least ten days after election day and include everyone who wasn’t in their electorate when they voted, or registered during the voting period. They typically lean left - (National lost two seats on the specials over each of the last three elections) - but there is some speculation they will not do this in 2023, as overseas voters will look to punish Labour for MIQ. I am skeptical about this claim, as there are only around 65,000 or so enrolled overseas voters, compared to 500,000 special votes cast at the last election. There could be an enrolment blitz (a lot of Kiwis live overseas who aren’t registered) but overall I believe the special vote will remain fairly left-leaning, as a lot of people who are not in their home electorates for voting are students. For the absence of doubt: I’m not predicting that the special votes will swing the election, just that it will be close enough that they could.
At least three quarters of votes will be cast before election day. This is not a particularly heroic prediction - it hit 68% last time, up from 48% in 2017.
Chlöe Swarbrick retains the seat of Auckland Central. The Greens don’t come anywhere close to winning any other electorate.
David Seymour retains the seat of Epsom. The ACT Party don’t come anywhere to winning any other electorate.
Te Pāti Māori increase their total allocation of seats, although not necessarily by winning another electorate.
NZ First don’t make it back in. (I think. To be honest I could be convinced. But right now I don’t see it.)
If Labour are not returned to Government, Jacinda Ardern will not still be leader by the end of the year. Grant Robertson will take over at first but will not necessarily be in it for the long run: Other contenders for the throne include Chris Hipkins and Kiri Allan.
If National lose Nicola Willis will take over as leader, if Luxon does go. If National lose by a slim margin and he decides to stay on he could do so.
There is some kind of legal action over who gets included in the TV debates.
And the big question? I think when you look at the fundamentals around the economy, and the consistent trend in the polls, it’s more likely than not that National leads the next Government. Thanks to the pandemic people have seen a lot of the Government in the last three years, and I think this combined with some big mis-steps have contributed to a sense of fatigue with the Government that is usually earned after nine years, not six. But to get a bit Nate Silver here, I’m dropping this down from the status of a full-on prediction, because there are just far too many things that can happen before election day to know this something close to sure. In other words, I’d happily bet $100 that National win. But I wouldn’t bet $1000.
Predictions for everything else
The budget features a decent amount of money for middle and lower earners, either through a tax cut or some other payment.
Labour promise a new significant spending policy if they win in 2023 - either in the early childhood space or in dental.
Rachel Brooking wins the Labour Party selection for the safe Labour seat of Dunedin being vacated by David Clark.
Fleur Fitzsimons wins the Labour Party selection for the safe seat of Rongotai being vacated by Paul Eagle.
The TVNZ/RNZ merger is delayed, scaled back, or abandoned altogether.
Barbara Edmonds is made a minister.
UK Labour retain a strong poll lead over the Conservatives, although it slackens significantly as the memory of the Trusstastrophe fades. No general election is held. Boris Johnson makes some sort of attempt to win back power.
Donald Trump faces a much steeper climb to win the 2024 GOP nomination than expected, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis leading in a lot of polls. He doesn’t seem to really rise to the challenge. (There are no actual primary elections in 2023 so we won’t have a clear idea of the eventual winner.)
Joe Biden announces that he will stand again in 2024. He faces no serious primary opposition.
The end of the fuel tax cut in New Zealand is fairly messy for the Government.
Global inflation slows down significantly from its peaks, without disappearing. There is still fighting in Ukraine at the end of the year.
China’s reopening sees a horrific amount of death for its elderly, many of whom are not fully vaccinated.
The number of people on the public housing waitlist continues its very slow decline.
Vladislav Zubok, a pre-eminent historian of Soviet Russia, on what he thinks the west should do to avoid extending the war in Ukraine. A somewhat controversial piece - he thinks Russia needs to be offered some carrots to retain face - but nevertheless a thoughtful piece by a man who has thought a lot more about this situation than most pundits.
Anna Fifield on 50 years of the NZ/PRC relationship.
David Ehrlich on why Avatar 2 is so much better than Avatar one. (Go see it!)
Thanks to everyone for reading and have a great break over New Years. Drive safe.