The Standard claims that a change in ACT leadership is likely following Don Brash's leadership bid announced today. Unfortunately for ACT its problems may be deeper than a question of who holds the leadership position.
While ACT won some public support for its tough stance on law & order and its exposure of public sector extravagance (much of the credit for which goes to Hide) it also turned off many voters with its fundamentalist adherence to the purist free market - an ideology rejected by most centrist voters in successive elections.
Voters have concluded that selling off more of our economy to foreign ownership offers only a short term palliative at best and at worst is a betrayal of this country's long term economic interests. At a time of economic sluggishness and high unemployment opposition parties could normally be expected to be gaining ground. However Labour has identity problems of its own.
Damien O'Connor voiced the thoughts of many traditional Labour voters (and some Labour MPs) who are centrist on economic policy but conservative on social issues. Rightly or wrongly such voters feel Labour no longer represents them.
A genuine centrist party is a movement based on the aspirations of mainstream hardworking kiwis who are fed up with those politicians who seem to be increasingly out of touch with ordinary people.