Routinely, the centre-right complains that Big Government treats people like children. Huh. Have to say, National, Act and New Zealand First are doing a pretty good job of infantilising the New Zealand public. We keep being told “good progress“ is being made in forming the next government, while getting no inkling about what that means in practice.
In the information void, it’s all guesswork. Maybe Act’s Treaty referendum is still on the table, maybe not. Maybe National’s tax cuts and foreign buyers tax are proving to be stumbling blocks, maybe not. It doesn’t need to be this way. We should be getting meaningful progress reports. As in, common agreement has been reached in areas X, Y and Z of social policy, items A&B are no longer on the table, but we still have some ways to go before arriving at a workable agreement in certain areas of say, economic policy. The public are adults. We know that progress could still be conditional on the final agreements reached in other areas.
Instead, the public’s right to know about what has been achieved over the past fortnight has been steadily dismissed. Peters has even said it would be “rash” and “irresponsible” to make any substantive comment. No doubt, all three party leaders don’t want to upset each other, or risk tipping their hand, or whatever. Yet this self-interest shouldn’t be allowed to override every other factor. Hey, if the trust between this threesome is so fragile, how can they ever manage to work constructively around the Cabinet table? The level of secrecy on display also doesn’t bode well for how openly this trio aims to govern.
Wasn’t it Christopher Luxon who was complaining recently about the length of time it was taking to verify and count the special votes, and also about the ways in which previous coalition discussions had been conducted? On the specials, it was said that releasing partial results might enable the public to be kept better informed about the likely outcomes. The same logic goes for the coalition talks. Partial results would not tell the entire, final story. But they would usefully indicate the likely direction of travel. Basically… We shouldn’t have to wait until all the scenery is in place, and all the lines have been rehearsed, before the curtain goes up.
Spain, by contrast, has carried out in full public view its panel struggle to form a new coalition government. As this column has been reporting for months, Spain’s incumbent centre-left government led by Pedro Sanchez had been widely written off as a dead duck only a week before election day on July 23rd.
Yet thanks to a last minute surge, Sanchez and his partners clawed their way back into contention, and they’re now on the brink of forming a new government. The centre-right won more votes in July, but as expected, it failed dismally to put together a new government. That failure was mainly because Vox, the far right junior coalition partner, is so politically toxic. Spanish voters may have disliked their current government, but many of them recoiled in horror once they took a long, hard look at the alternative.
In July, Sanchez pulled his traditional centre-left party (and its left-wing partner Sumar, formed from the remnants of the left wing Podemos movement) close enough to power. From that base, Sanchez then did crucial deals with several small Basque and Catalan regional and separatist parties. It has taken four months to get to this point, but a vote in Parliament this week will finally determine whether Sanchez, the great survivor, has managed the impossible.
The centre-right has only itself to blame. It had been so sure of victory in July that it blinded itself to the fact that the public was setting aside its disdain for the centre-left government, and was doing so mainly because of the racism and rampant misogyny of Vox, the centre right’s junior partner. In Madrid in particular, it finally sunk in that it would be a really bad idea to put Vox in any position of power. Spain has experienced fascism before, and for now at least, it rejected fascism’s current incarnation. Even so, Sanchez will rule only by the barest of margins.
Footnote: Unsurprisingly, the concessions made by Sanchez to separatism and to regional autonomy have outraged Spani’s centre-right nationalists. Basque and Catalan demands for greater autonomy have long been suppressed by successive governments in Madrid. This time around, the country will have to deal with its divisions, in plain sight.
And… Wth no theme in mind, here are some (mainly) recent tracks (e.g. Sleater-Kinney’s comeback single, Zack Bryan’s neo-Springsteen lament, the Sofia Kourtesis’ dancehall tribute to the doctor who treated her late father etc) plus a few oldies (Suicide, Martin Rev, Tinariwen, Ata Kak) some stuff from the 1930s ( Paul Tremnaine, Irving Kaufman ) and E40’s timeless rap about using a mirror to practice looking hard. Sweet William’s call for “Me Time” offers further evidence of how flexible hip hop can be. Oh yeah, yo yah.