Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Could ACT be a major party?

This may seem completely impossible. And it's highly it can happen by the next election, or even the one after. But it's a long term goal, though can't happen currently.

I'm basically getting this idea from Australia. The National Party is the small party in coalition with the larger Liberal Party. The National Party is basically a rural party.

It would require significant image overhaul on behalf of ACT. Changing the name completely to the "Liberal Party" could help (it makes you seem larger too), as well as changing the image (some would say selling out). It may actually be the best strategy for the centre-right in the long term. If we consider that National does best in rural areas, perhaps it may be better for them to become more explicitly rural, while ACT attracts the votes in the cities. As New Zealand becomes more urbanized, this would result in ACT being the larger of the parties.

This would probably be unacceptable to too many in both ACT and National, hence why it probably won't ever happen voluntarily. Many ACT members would not like the idea of toning their image down too much, and certainly most National members would hate being downsized to a third party.

I think it's possible for ACT to barely move at all in actual policy and become far more popular, just as long as they can shift the image.

6 Comments:

Blogger Ed said...

The Nationals/Liberal relationship couldn't really be applied to New Zealand very well at all. The Liberal party is a big 'L' liberal party, it's social policy is purely conservative, even more so now with Howard as leader and Abbot and Downer in senior positions. The National Country Party, to use their correct name, and the Liberal Party's ideologies aren't drastically different aside from the odd spat with Barnacle Joyce over his 'special interpretations' of policies whereas ACT seems happy to plod down the dangerous, electorally uncompetitive path of Libertarianism meaning it's ideas on tax reform and certain other issues make it a potential, rather than a natural coalition partner.

Anyway the Nationals are dieing off as Labor makes moves into the rural electorates and the Libs help the clean up job so the only purpose they serve is to milk Queensland for senate seats, the days of such a relationship are almost over. A better model would be Germany's Free Democrat party (a Wikipedia search should throw something up), to my knowledge the most electorally successful Classic Liberal party in the world.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Nichlemn said...

Yeah, I was aware that the Liberals are really quite different from ACT. But the point was more to do with ACT moving to a more mainstream electoral position in order to get there. Tone down the low taxes message (even if it stays completely intact, just not marketed as much) and begin to show a few other sides. Attempt to gently push National outside of its niches to gain more room.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Aaron Bhatnagar said...

NIchelm, ACT's issues are not one of policy but organisation. Policies come and go depending on circumstances and fashions, but the overall values remain constant. A name change in itself would do very little, and probably hurt ACT.

Besides which - you have one of Wellington's pre-eminent image specialists in Catherine Judd leading the party for the last 5 years. Perhaps she could help ACT with an image makeover :-)

7:41 AM  
Blogger Nichlemn said...

Man, that was tame for Aaron. :)

12:47 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Why should ACT tone down its low tax message? After all National took it,ran with it and damm near won the election with it!Where its gone wrong is in educating people as to WHY lower taxes are better for them and the country.It would seem only morons could not grasp that having more money and control over it leads to a better standard of living and less need of the "essential socialist services" in the first place....but Kiwis are thick in this regard.In the next three years National and ACT must go out and reason with people and explain the ABC's of economics and the failure of Government policys that seek to "help the poor and needy".

But ACt does need a face lift and to spell out clearly what it stands for and to remove the contradictions in its message.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Why should ACT tone down its low tax message? After all National took it,ran with it and damm near won the election with it!

You've missed the point, National's tax cuts were more acceptable to the electorate as they were less extreme than ACT's plan and nothing highlighted that extremism more than seeing it put next to a reasonable policy.

4:27 PM  

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