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'Mood changing towards less frequent elections' - Key

Published: 9:49AM Monday February 25, 2013 Source: ONE News

Prime Minister John Key believes New Zealanders would be more open to having a four-year electoral term if it went to a referendum now.

More than half of people who responded to a ONE News Colmar Brunton poll said they are in favour of extending the parliamentary term from three years to four.

New Zealand has already held a referendum on this issue twice before, in 1967 and 1990. Both times the vote fell in favour of retaining the current election set-up.

However, Key told TV ONE's Breakfast programme this morning that there could be a different outcome if a public referendum was held today.

"Twice in New Zealand's history we've voted on a four-year term. Both times it was rejected roughly two thirds [to] one third, but I think the mood's definitely changing with MMP."

Labour leader David Shearer also believes that three years is not enough time to "roll out your programme" of government.

If changed it would put an end to legislation which has been in place since 1950.

In the latest poll, revealed by ONE News yesterday, Kiwis were asked if they supported increasing the term of Government to four years. More than half (56%) said they would, 40% said they want to keep the current system, and the rest said they were unsure.

Tight race

Meanwhile, Key says he expects the 2014 election will be a "very, very tight race".

He told RadioLive this morning he predicts support for the Labour-Green voting bloc will grow enough to rival National's level of support.

Key said National has been up in the polls, including in the latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll, but he thinks the polls will move around between now and 2014.

"I think over the course of the next couple of years that Labour-Green bloc will be fairly equivalent to the National bloc and it will be a very, very tight race going into the 2014 election.

"Hopefully we can do enough to get ourselves over the line again next year," he said.

The first ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll of the year showed a boost for the Government.

National bounced up five points in the poll to 49%, its highest approval rating in almost a year. Labour and the Greens were both down two points to 33% and 11% respectively.

New Zealand First remained steady on 4%, while the Conservatives, the Maori Party and Mana were also steady on 1%.

When converted into seats in the House, National would have 62, still just shy of a majority.

However, add in any one of its support partners, United Future, Act or the Maori Party and National would have enough to govern.

The centre left on the other hand falls short according to the poll results - Labour's 42 seats, plus the Greens' 14 and Mana's one make just 57 seats. This assumes all current electorate seats are held.