Stardust and Substance: The New Zealand general election of 2017, edited by Professor Stephen Levine from the University’s Political Science and International Relations programme, is a collection of essays from party leaders, political commentators, academics and journalists about what happened during New Zealand’s volatile 2017 general election, and why.
The book contains chapters on a wide range of topics including the phenomenon of ‘Jacindamania’, the role of Māori electorates in the election, and the effect of political scandals. As well as exploring the personalities and forces that shaped the election, the book examines the legacy of the previous National Government. It also features political cartoons from the time of the election and is accompanied by a DVD containing commercials, debates, campaign hoardings, campaign footage, and election documents.
Speaking at the launch event, the Prime Minister said the book sheds light on the sometimes unpredictable 2017 election from a range of viewpoints. “This book is an artefact that brings to bear all of the different perspectives on what was … an extraordinary campaign across the board,” she said.
“Projects like this are chronicles of our shared history—our debated history—and a celebration of our institutions.”
Stardust and Substance is the latest title in a longstanding series of books that are published following the post-election conferences held at Parliament after every general election since 1987. The books are edited by members of the University's Political Science and International Relations programme, with Professor Levine having been involved as an editor since the 1996 election. The series was established by Emeritus Professor Dame Margaret Clark.
A new feature of the latest instalment is that it contains chapters from international commentators sharing perspectives on the New Zealand election as seen from the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and Japan.
Professor Levine says the book aims to make sense of the forces driving the 2017 general election and its outcome. “With 38 chapters from 45 contributors, this is the most wide-ranging book in this election series.
“Informative and thought-provoking, the book is a record of an election and its aftermath, capturing a somewhat magical campaign and the serious matters of policy and politics that hinged on the outcome,” says Professor Levine.
VUP Publisher Fergus Barrowman says there has already been a lot of interest in the volume, with a second reprint underway. “These books are an invaluable resource for all people interested in recent politics. The amount of early interest in this edition in particular is an encouraging sign of New Zealanders’ political engagement.”
Stardust and Substance: The New Zealand general election of 2017, edited by Stephen Levine. Victoria University Press. Paperback, $40.00.