by Steve Maharey

Social democracy is in trouble. Social democratic parties have been annihilated in Greece, reduced to a shadow in France and struggle in Scandinavia. Corbyn in Britian and Sanders in the United States have support but can't get elected. Can New Zealand Labour show that it is not only possible to form a government but also to save social democracy? 

Social democrats like to do good. That is why they seek to be in government. They can use the resources of the state to improve lives. 

The announcement by Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford that they will be parents this year for the first time suggests a Rubicon is about to be crossed. Some progress has been made toward women being able to be mothers and in paid employment but there is some way to go.  Given Ardern and Gayford's prominence they may be about to make the tectonic plates of our society shift. 

Imagine a world that is organised so that we took it for granted that mothers could be in paid employment. It is easy - but you do have to try. 

Hearing the use of the Maori language on mainstream media during Maori Language Week provoked Don Brash to again demand that we be "one people" united in our Britishness. No doubt there are many people who agree with him. But is the tide of history leading to a more diverse society and is Maori language and culture becoming part of all of our lives? 

Don Brash has been here before. In his (in)famous Orewa Rotary speech he argued that there was too much Maori "privilege" and everyone should be treated equally. As part of the Hobson's Pledge organisation he promoted the view that we are all "one people". Now he is telling us, via his Facebook page, that only one language - English - should be used by the mainstream media.

A dislike of capitalism is something that unites the partners in the new government. They believe it has done more harm than good. But what do they actually mean? And what is their alternative? Over the next three years we will find out and whether our lives can be better. 

Capitalism is a "blatant failure" when it comes to housing the poor - Jacinda Ardern.

"Far too many New Zealanders have come to view today's capitalism not as their friend but as their foe" Winston Peters.

"...free market capitalism is dead" James Shaw. 

Maybe there will be a government this week. Maybe not. To fill the vacuum speculation is the only alternative. 

This is the week we will be told what parties will make up the governing coalition and who will sit on the opposition benches of Parliament. Of this I am sure. 

It has been 21 years since the first Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) election. But we do not seem to be learning how to get the best from the system. We are treating it like First-Past-the-Post (FPP). It is time to relax and play to strengths of MMP. 

It is an unfortunate feature of the 2017 coalition negotiations that the country seems to be a mad rush to form a government. "Here we are", lament commentators, "days after the election and we still don't know who is going to run the country!!' (Actually, it is the job of the public service to "mind the store" in the absence of a government in all democratic countries). 

All politicians, even those who say otherwise, raise taxes and spend money. The question this election is - what do they spend the money on? Politicians need to tell us not just what they will do but also explain why it will make a difference.

It was an odd thing to say. During an interview with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking labelled her a "tax and spend" politician. It wasn't a compliment. But doesn't that label apply to all politicians? They raise tax and spend it. 

Policy is important, but the 2017 election is now about leadership. Change versus the status quo. Who has the X-factor? In six weeks we will know

James Carville, President Bill Clinton's campaign manager back in 1992, famously coined the phrase "it's the economy, stupid" to explain their election strategy. Fair enough, but not that profound. Almost all elections are about the economy. People vote with their hip pocket in mind.

The 2017 election is weeks away. Parties are focusing on the immediate issues. It should be different. If we are to have a prosperous, secure, sustainable and democratic future we need to be talking the language of the future.

As the Lonely Planet guide says - thank goodness for New Zealand. In a world characterised by instability and insecurity, New Zealand is a source of hope.

Of course, those of us who live here might have different views. While New Zealand does appear to be doing well in comparison to other nations, we know we have problems, some urgent, some far-reaching, that need attention.

Former Prime Minister John Key thought a Basic Income was "barking". It seems many countries disagree and are piloting the idea. As new technology threatens the jobs of many, might a Basic Income become an essential polcy?

"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons" Woody Allen.

Many years ago, I took part in a public forum where the keynote speaker advanced the radical idea that a Basic Income (BI) be paid unconditionally to all residents.