Congratulations to John Key

New Zealand’s centre-right National party won by a landslide last night granting a third term to John Key. This is apparently an unprecedented result because often support starts to wane for a leader by the third term but he has more support now than in the previous election.

I did not vote for him. I am a swing voter and although I did help to vote him in for his first term, I haven’t voted for him since then. I have a few reasons for this. One is child poverty and the cost of housing. These two things are closely linked and there are people who can’t afford a home in this country and who live in squalid, crowded conditions in damp homes without heating. One way to address this is to introduce a capital gains tax. There is no capital gains tax in this country despite calls for one from the OECD. This is good for us personally as we are about to sell a house we have owned for less than three years for a fair bit more than we paid for it. We won’t have to pay any tax on this gain. But I don’t think this is good for the nation as a whole. People in New Zealand disproportionately invest in housing, driving up the cost. Not only is this a bad thing for people wanting to buy a home to live in, but it’s also a bad thing for New Zealand industry as we should be investing in our local businesses rather than in houses. Perhaps this is a simplistic view of the situation. I’m happy to accept criticism here if you think it is.

The other reason I did not vote for John Key is that I’d quite like my husband to cycle home from work without getting hit by a bus. In other words, I want cycling infrastructure. It is not for purely selfish reasons either (the selfish reason being that I don’t want my husband to get hit by a bus), but I also think there are a number of benefits to building good cycling infrastructure for the society at large. I’ve written about this before in How to save the world by bicycle but I’ll just recap on the some of the main points again here. Cycling keeps you healthy. A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and cognitive decline. It is also reduces pollution and traffic, does not contribute to the greenhouse effect, lessons our dependence on foreign oil, and it’s fun. Cycling infrastructure is also cheap to build. The other issue is that I find roads and motorways very ugly. I also get a lot of enjoyment from looking at attractive things and I feel depressed by ugly things. Roads and motorways going up everywhere, as is happening in Auckland right now, is very depressing to me. It also doesn’t solve the traffic problem. I wrote a bit about why building more roads does not improve traffic flow in Roads, traffic, and Braess’s paradox if anyone is interested.

So who did I vote for? It’s probably obvious but both my party and electorate vote went to the New Zealand Green party who did poorly in this election. If John Key could deliver on bikes lanes, stop investing in motorways, and implement a capital gains tax, then I would be more supportive of him. He’s seems like a nice man and he’s a good negotiator, which is an important skill for a leader to have. Congratulations to him.