Election 2023: Political commentator says public will 'turn away in disgust' if divisive tension continues to rise

Political commentator Bryce Edwards says political parties are running the risk of turning the New Zealand public "away in disgust" if divisive tensions continue to rise.

The 2023 election campaign is heating up and tensions are rising both within Parliament and on the campaign trail.

Joining AM Early on Thursday, Edwards said he's witnessed politics become more tense and divisive over the last year - something he's not seen for a "long, long time".

"It's out there in society and the public with a lot of discontent. Polls show that people think New Zealand is heading in the wrong direction."

He said with the visible "social dislocation" and polarisation - politicians are picking up on it

"Essentially, they're trying to get votes out of this."

Edwards pointed to some of the political parties' campaign slogans: New Zealand First's 'Let's take our country back' and National's 'Let's get New Zealand back on track'.

Edwards said the mood is "looking much worse than we've seen in a long time" and also pointed to Labour already talking about running a more negative campaign to highlight what it believes a National-ACT coalition might look like.

He believes the current type of political tactics used by parties could turn the public off and "away in disgust". He told AM Early it "tends to produce a decline in voter turnout when things get nasty like this and polarised".

"Culture wars are a big part of it as well because you have minor parties, especially from left to right, Greens, ACT, New Zealand First that are really pushing, you know, sort of stuff about race and condemnations and ethnicity. It really can turn people off," he said.

"So I think that's the real danger we're at at the moment."

Watch the video above for more.