Like most New Zealanders, I was shocked and gravely concerned at the recent results of the US Presidential election. No pundits or pollsters saw such a result coming. Trump was right: this is the new Brexit.
One Kiwi who was pleased with the outcome was Winston Peter, leader of the nationalist NZ First party. This of course raises concerns that Peters may really be the next Donald Trump. His statements on the issue certainly suggest he is at least posturing as an anti-establishment nut who will save the people from immigration.
I find this concern unfounded. Peters lacks too many of the opportunities that Donald had.
Winston Peters is definitely not anti-establishment. He’s been in parliament for nearly 40 years. He even served as deputy Prime Minister for two years. Trump, however, was an absolute outsider. A wealthy bombastic TV businessman. What’s Winston’s past? Before entering parliament, Winston Peters worked as a lawyer. Peters has none of the credentials to run as an anti-establishment outsider. Besides, the left (at least) already resoundingly rejected anti-establishment politics in the 2014 general election, when Kim Dotcom (who’s now celebrating Trump’s win) launched the Internet Party.
New Zealand has MMP. In the United States, voters are stuck with only the two big parties. Trump’s support was a minority at first, but it was enough to hijack one of those two big parties. Those sympathetic to Winston’s policies all are able to support their own small party, and still gain seats in parliament, freeing other larger parties from having an angry nationalist faction. America’s divisive two party politics are incompatible with New Zealand’s representative MMP system.
Winston will do his best to become New Zealand’s Trump, hopefully without the misogyny and explicit racism. But in the end, it will all be for nought. Only 9% of New Zealanders supported a Trump presidency.