Jennifer Curtin

Jennifer Curtin is Professor of Politics and Director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland. She has been a principal investigator on the New Zealand Election Study since 2006 and co-authored, A Bark but no Bite: Inequality and the 2014 New Zealand General Election (ANU Press 2017). She is a regular contributor to the Australian federal election book series (also published with ANU Press).

orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9786-5868

A Populist Exception? »

The 2017 New Zealand General Election

Publication date: 2020
The ‘spectre of populism’ might be an apt description for what is happening in different parts of the world, but does it apply to New Zealand? Immediately after New Zealand’s 2017 general election, populist party New Zealand First gained a pivotal role in a coalition with the Labour Party, leading some international observers to suggest it represented a populist capture of the government. The leader of New Zealand First, Winston Peters, justified his support for Labour as necessary to allow capitalism to ‘regain … its human face’. The new prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, spoke of a kinder, inclusive politics. This book draws on the 2017 New Zealand Election Study to uncover New Zealanders’ political attitudes and preferences post-election. Its authors ask: is New Zealand now A Populist Exception? Through detailed empirical analyses of how populism and authoritarianism affected vote choice, opinions about immigration, satisfaction with democracy and the relevance of gender and indigeneity to these issues, this book finds that New Zealand politics today does not reflect the international trend toward ideological polarisation and electoral volatility. The authors argue that inclusive forms of populism can be pluralist if a leader’s rhetorical approach recognises ‘the people’ as diverse and encompassing. A Populist Exception? concludes that although populism has long been a strong current in New Zealand history, contemporary New Zealand exhibits a moderate form of populism, with liberal and pluralist values in balance with a strong commitment to majoritarian democracy.

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Double Disillusion »

The 2016 Australian Federal Election

Publication date: April 2018
This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the 2016 Australian federal election. Won by the Liberal–National Coalition by the slimmest of margins, the result created a climate of political uncertainty that threatened the government’s lower house majority. While the campaign might have lacked the theatre of previous elections, it provides significant insights into the contemporary political and policy challenges facing Australian democracy and society today. In this, the 16th edited collection of Australian election studies, 41 contributors from a range of disciplines bring an unprecedented depth of expertise to the 2016 contest. The book covers the context, key battles and issues in the campaign, and reports and analyses the results in detail. It provides an evaluation of the role of political actors such as the parties, independents, the media, interest groups and GetUp!, and examines election debate in the online space. Experts from a range of policy fields provide an analysis of election issues ranging from the economy and industrial relations to social policy, the environment, and gender and sexuality. Each of the chapters is written on the basis of in‑depth and original research, providing new insights into this important political event.

A Bark But No Bite »

Inequality and the 2014 New Zealand General Election

Publication date: August 2017
Based on New Zealand Election Study (NZES) data from a sample of 2,830 eligible voters, A Bark But No Bite explores a puzzle. While there was a lot of talk about inequality before the 2014 general election in New Zealand, and during the campaign, concern about inequality appeared to have no tangible effect on the election outcome. This book shows that, by its attention to the concerns of middle ground voters, the National Government had reduced the potential of policy differences to drive voter choices. Perceptions of competence and effective leadership were National’s strongest suit, crowding out voter concerns over matters of policy. When voters did consider policy, inequality and related concerns were second to the economy. Traditional priorities about health and education, and perceptions of party differences on these matters, had faded into the background. Meanwhile, voters doubted the opposition Labour Party’s ability to govern effectively in an alternative coalition to that of the National-led government. Labour’s policies were too many. In various ways, they would have chipped away at inequality, but lacked a coherent narrative and presentation. This book confirms that Labour’s proposal to increase the age for receipt of New Zealand superannuation gained Labour no new votes. Hopes that the ‘missing million’ people who failed to turn out to vote in 2011 would vote in 2014 and give an advantage to the left were unfulfilled. A comprehensive study of the 2014 election, this book provides a detailed account of all these findings, and a host of others.