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This election is not over. Fully 15% of votes remain uncounted; the shape of Parliament is undecided; coalition talks are underway. No single party has the ‘moral authority’, whatever that may mean, to govern. So these perspective remarks are necessarily provisional, speculative, open to correction and criticism. They offer a first attempt to make sense of the election from the perspective of the working class and the long struggle for socialism.

 

A ‘moral victory’ for National, the Sunday Star Times called it. What hogwash! 46% of the 79% of enrolled voters who cast votes – almost certain to be a smaller percentage once specials are counted – is no ringing endorsement. The combined Labour/Green left vote is up, the most significant revival of the forces of the parliamentary left since 2008. National’s support partners are scattered. Coalition talks go on. There is precious little cheer here for the ruling class. The Labour/Green vote has gone from 36% in 2014 to at least 41.7%, with the figure certain to rise come the end of counting. This is no clear victory for the right.

 

The International Socialists campaigned through the last few months under the slogan: ‘Kick National Out! Build a Socialist Alternative’.  How does that project fare today? Three years ago we opened our post-election analysis calling for a ‘lucid registration of defeat’. Nothing so clear comes from the 2017 election. National seems, from one view, in a towering position: they took the largest share of the vote; they are positioned to continue into an almost-unprecedented fourth term; their Antipodean application of ‘project fear’ has pulled them into victory. But this is a victory shot through with contradictions, tensions, gaps. Their coalition and supporting parties are all destroyed from their association with National; the party was forced to campaign against much of its own record; its future now is in the hands of Winston Peters, a man capable of nursing grudges and carrying out canny bargaining. If the prospect of a fourth National term is frustrating, these results give few causes for the ruling class to cheer.

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From the archive

Anzac Day: Against the Carnival of Reaction

mobiliseagainstthewarOn Anzac Day 1967, at the height of New Zealand involvement in the ‘American War’ in Vietnam, with New Zealand troops taking part in the suppression of the Vietnamese struggle for national liberation, members of the Progressive Youth Movement in Christchurch tried to lay a wreath following the dawn service in memory of those killed by imperialism in Vietnam. They were arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour. Feminists a decade later faced down a media-driven public outcry when they laid wreaths to the victims of sexual violence during war.

Lest we forget? It’s more like lest we remember. Anzac Day serves as a carnival of nationalist reaction, a day of public ritual aimed at promoting forgetting: forgetting the real legacy of New Zealand imperialism and militarism in favour of a sentimental nationalism, an anti-political celebration of national unity. [Read More…]