Thursday, December 8, 2016
It is evident now that Bill English has got the numbers to cross the line to become the next Prime Minister of the country.
Obviously, unless no more drama unfolds in the next few days!
Harold Wilson’s popular quote that “a week is a long time in politics” has probably never been so relevant for the New Zealand politics than now.
Soon after Prime Minister’s resignation on Monday, December 5, our small editorial team has struggled with one question that possibly every New Zealander is keenly watching – who will be the next Prime Minister of the country?
Initially within our editorial team, a slightly different question was raised – how will the next Prime Minister be elected?
The line of enquiry proposed within our team was that how the next Prime Minister should be elected: contest or consensus?
The proponents of this idea in our team were of the opinion that consensus should be the preferred way of transition of power.
This way stability and cohesiveness could be maintained in the post-John Key cabinet.
Given that John Key himself has made a claim while announcing his resignation that he was told by his deputy Bill English that this was the most cohesive cabinet in the last eight years, it was assumed that cohesiveness of cabinet is an important factor for this National government.
It was argued in our editorial team debate that consensus building should be the best strategy to elect new National Party leader and the Prime Minister.
This argument was based on the assumption that an open and possibly, a fierce contest can potentially risk stability.
It is not always easy to roll back leadership ambitions once they are blown out openly in public and fiercely contested.
Like all editorial ideas, this idea was also debated and then discarded in favour of a better idea.
The better idea at that time was that contest is the essence of any successful democracy.
Believing in the essence of the contest within a democracy, our team worked on another story that why, not the next Prime Minister be elected directly by the people of New Zealand instead of just 59 MPs, especially six to nine months before next general elections could be held.
Come Thursday, this fast emerging news that Bill English has got enough numbers of MPs who have openly declared their support for his leadership bid has again forced us to visit back to our earlier discarded idea of the importance of consensus in electing the next Leader.
With news of Mr English having sufficient numbers Judith Collins in a smart move has already withdrawn her name from the contest, possibly saving her leadership ambitions for another day.
For how long Jonathon Coleman will hold the forte remains to be seen, though he has made conciliatory comments in the Parliament today.
However, it appears that contest has given way to consensus for now which is not altogether bad for the general health of New Zealand’s democracy.
Without sounding arrogant, it can be argued that common sense dictates that any unsolicited leadership change should be handled carefully through consensus.
Leaving contest for another day probably when all New Zealanders can participate in electing their new Prime Minister.
For now, a consensus prevails on the contest.