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It has no friends apart from a puppet party that survives only because of a sweetheart deal in Epsom that distorts the true intent of MMP.
Which is why I believe Bill English will find himself in an increasingly difficult position.
The National Party in the meantime will have to deal with the agonies of generational change as they replace a time-lined front bench, who with the exception of Bill English (whose leadership is secure) will be under increasingly unsympathetic scrutiny from frustrated and ambitious back benchers.
The challenge for NZ First will be for the party to create an identity independent from its founder and current leader Winston Peters.It will be an interesting year. He is such an unlikeable person, even within his caucus that his chances must be remote. His only prospect is for the current Government to collapse and remorseful voters then returning to Nationals fold. Otherwise its return to power will depend on how to uninstall win spy generational change.Although National has problems.
Somehow I do not think this will happen.
But it is currently is in a relatively healthy position.
Hooton predicts a number of senior members of the National Caucus will need to decide if they go now or if they wait for demotion later on in the year.
He singles out Paula Bennett, Steven Joyce, Gerry Brownlee and Nick Smith and thinks they have all done their dash.
And they are up against Jacinda Ardern who has already shown herself to be a formidable leader.The Greens retain a brand image that almost certainly secures their ongoing relevance in the NZ political scene.Last year they nearly pulled off what would have been a remarkable election victory and a fourth term in power. He believes (NBR paid content) that it is extremely unlikely that English will succeed in being reelected as Prime Minister.If history is any precedent their challenges have only just begun.
I think that Nationals caucus will realise their candidacies are not viable.
And former National Cabinet Minister Philip Burdon also thinks that the chances of an upheaval are high, although he thinks that English is safe at least for now.
And it is not just.