By Lord Ashcroft
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If it seems odd that a British businessman and philanthropist should devote nearly three months to researching and analysing politics and public opinion on the other side of the world, let me explain.
The first reason is that over the years I have been fortunate enough to spend a good deal of time in New Zealand. I have many friends there, and I’m always eager to discover more about this beautiful and remarkable country. I hope this research – encompassing New Zealanders’ attitudes to political and social issues, the economy, their country’s overall direction and its place in the world – will prove valuable to anyone interested in the subject.
The second is that I was keen to see how the dynamics that have shaped recent politics in the UK, the US and Europe, where I have conducted most of my research to date, are making themselves felt in other democracies. As honorary chairman of the International Democrat Union, the global alliance of centre-right political parties, I have a further interest in studying how voters around the world view the challenges and opportunities that face them and the impact this has on political debate.
Third, New Zealand has enjoyed unaccustomed worldwide attention thanks to its response to the covid pandemic, propelling Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the status of an international celebrity. I was intrigued to find out more about her apparent political success and to see whether New Zealanders themselves accord their leader as much reverence as do the pundits overseas – and where this leaves the National Party opposition (more…)