The Worm that Turned: New Zealand’s 1996 General Election and the Televised ‘Worm’ Debates



In New Zealand televised leaders’ debates in the run up to an election are a regular feature of election campaigns. In the past these debates have been seen as critical in the campaigns of which they were part. In July 1984, for example, the National Party’s Robert Muldoon, Prime Minister since 1975, jousted with David Lange, the leader of the resurgent Labour Party. In a famous moment during the debate, when Mr Lange was gaining the upper hand, the Prime Minister leaned towards the Labour leader and growled sarcastically, ‘I love you, Mr Lange’. It was a startling comment, and to many viewers depicted Muldoon and his party as tired and well past their use-by date. Lange’s party romped home.


Prime Minister Election Campaign National Party Labour Leader Voluntary Euthanasia 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Richard Johnston (1998) ‘Issues, Leaders and the Campaign’, in J. Vowles, P. Aimer, S. Banducci and J. Karp (eds), Voters’ Victory?, Auckland University Press, p. 70.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Peter Aimer (1997) ‘Leaders and Outcomes: The Clark Factor in 1996’, in J. Boston et al. (eds), From Campaign to Coalition, Wellington, p.145.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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