Stardust and Substance: The New Zealand General Election of 2017, by Stephen Levine

Stardust and Substance: The New Zealand General Election of 2017, by Stephen Levine (Politics & Social Issues)

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Stardust and Substance captures some of the magic of Jacinda Ardern’s extraordinary seven-and-a-half weeks’ campaign, defeating a National government in power for nine years.

The story of her sensational achievement – with ‘relentless positivity’ and a ‘Let’s do this’ attitude – is told in this book by multiple authors, including Jacinda Ardern herself; her coalition partners, Winston Peters and James Shaw; and, looking back at the 2017 race, by her adversary in the campaign, former prime minister Bill English.

The book portrays how a remarkable election looked:
  • to overseas observers in the U.S., Australia, Europe, Britain and Japan, attempting to understand ‘Jacindamania’.
  • to 14 of New Zealand’s top cartoonists.
  • to academic commentators, journalists and a TV news programme’s producer.

Stardust and Substance tells the story of how the election was won, and a government formed, its chapters highlighting:
  • the televised debates and Jacinda Ardern’s inspirational example for New Zealand’s young women.
  • UMR’s survey findings about leadership, issues and ‘word clouds’.
  • the post-election negotiations with Winston Peters.
  • the role of political scandals.
  • the campaign and election in the Maori seats.
  • the 2017 election and New Zealand’s Pacific communities.
  • four campaigns, four candidates – Julie Anne Genter (Greens); Chris Hipkins (Labour); Mark Mitchell (National); Fletcher Tabuteau (New Zealand First).

Stardust and Substance also farewells the Key-English government, examining its legacy with regard to some key issues: New Zealand’s flag; the economy, housing, the environment, immigration, foreign policy and security.  

Stardust and Substance is the latest title in a VUP series of New Zealand election studies allowing New Zealanders today and ‘in 20, 50 and 100 years’ time’ the opportunity to ‘think about what happened and why’ (John Key) at the country’s general elections.              

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