I've spent quite some time over the last three days consoling friends and students over the election result. It was emphatic.
There is a good deal of consolation to be had for any person with left-wing sympathies with this result. This is a National party of the reddest blue since Muldoon (which was conservative rather than right-wing). Provided it sustains its centrist orientation, there isn't much difference between it and the previous administration policy-wise. Labour loyalists may be dismayed by the electorates that have been painted blue, but it is loyalty to a name or a brand.
There has been a fair bit of suspicion and invective directed towards our new Prime Minister. The suspicion would seem to be unjustified or perhaps just politically generated. John Key may be a millionaire, but not a doctrinaire. Helen Clark was an ideologue with effective political pragmatism; Key would seem to be a pragmatist without ideology. The predominant line against the result has been: 'The right wingers are what got us into this mess (i.e. the credit crisis); why did we go against the world trend and go right?'. Frankly, I'd prefer an out-and-out pragmatist in a crisis so in a way, I'm a little relieved.
Personally, this was one of the harder elections in which to choose my party vote. It has been the only election in which I could contemplate voting National. Aside from their law and order policy, I didn't find much to be offended by. Also, I would have voted for them to enhance the chance of a majority government (I voted for Labour in 2002 for that reason). With the Greens fairly assured of survival but with a high likelihood of only being in opposition, I didn't have much reason to vote for them. Instead I chose to vote Labour in memory of Noel.
For Labour, I'm glad that they have been moved into a peaceful revitalisation process. So often in our politics the losing leader has to be rolled to generate that change. With Clark and Cullen moving into the background, other leaders should can establish themselve with three years to prepare for 2011.
The conclusion of the United States' election was similarly emphatic; American voters showed 'they could' elect someone 'black' as their leader. More significantly, and this point cannot be ignored, the Democrats have continued their sweep of both houses gaining majorities. This will allow the Obama administration to be freer to pursue its goals.
So onward we go. We'll await their progress.