Key ends poll dance?
UPDATE | 1PM: 26 November 2011 is the date. That's five weeks for campaigning after the RWC final. The Nats will want the ABs to win more than anyone else - they are staking a bit on it. However should we do what we've done in the last five world cups then an election will prove a timely distraction.
Mr Key said it was a break from tradition to announce the election date this early but he believed it was necessary to provide certainty in what was a big year for New Zealand.
He said he had previously indicated he did not favour an early election.
Mr Key said his own personal preference was a four year fixed term. He could not recall any Prime Minister announcing the election this far out, but said he was comfortable with his decision to do so.
"I believe it is in the country's best interests to know the date of the General Election early in election year," he said.
"It creates certainty for New Zealanders and allows people to plan accordingly."
Good of him. A fixed date for general elections would provide even better certainty though. --END UPDATE
NZ Herald reporting the election date will be announced this afternoon - a full ten months before it will occur. That would be remarkable - it's more likely because it's six weeks away I would have thought; but when the Rugby world cup is right in the middle of traditional campaign season then the only options are a very early election or a very late one.
In a previous post I noted we would have to know whether it was early or not by July 11 at the latest. Letting us know - or rather him promising not to hold it earlier - is jolly decent of him, given it shows their hand and drops an advantage it was possible to keep.
I think there is some risk for the Nats in holding off for a late one. Clark in her first term went early and caught the hopeless English-Boag team with their pants down. She was risk-averse; maybe Key has some good reasons to be more confident?
Another announcement is also expected this afternoon.
Mr Key has indicated to his caucus they should let him know by early this year if they intended to resign at the next election. Among those understood to be considering it is Georgina te Heuheu.
They are dropping like flies. "Another announcement"? More retirements? Another 10km of the cycle track gravelled? It may not be nice medicine for everyone, but the Nats have the initiative and are successfully leading the debate at this point - raising the asset sales programme this early was a sensible decision. No doubt the budget will have have to flag in some way what the assets are for sale and other reforms needed to bring in privatisation (maybe regulatory/market changes). All of which is a good reason for the Nats to have an election early I would have thought - I don't like their chances of winning the privatisation debate in an economic slump and with the woeful memories of privatisations past still haunting the minds of the electorate.