In 1984, the Prime Minister of New Zealand announced a snap election on television while extremely drunk.Robert Muldoon was a divisive figure. I remember him as a bit of a bully, and someone who found himself on the wrong side of history on two of the biggest moral issues of New Zealand in the 1980s. One of those was the boycott of the South African rugby team because of the country’s continued support of apartheid (he opposed the boycott). The other was legislation proposed by the opposition party to make New Zealand nuclear-free.
One of his parliamentary colleagues – Marilyn Waring – told Muldoon that she was going to vote with the opposition in support of this legislation. Muldoon… overreacted. Deciding that this threatened his ability to govern, he got drunk and then summoned the media to a late-night press conference.
In front of the cameras and collected parliamentary media, he slurred through the announcement that there would be an election in one month. You can see the whole train wreck in the video below.
Muldoon would go on to lose that election, and it wasn’t even close. I can’t imagine why. Muldoon stayed in parliament but was deposed as leader of the National Party. He went on to perform in theatre (a local production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and also hosted a late night horror movie television show dressed as a vampire (I’m not kidding – look for Friday Night Frights).
I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.