At present, with no clear outcome from our recent parliamentary elections, small parties are engaged in negotiations with larger parties trying to form a governing coalition. The result is that, owing to the messianic complex common to our cluster of small parties, the tail is well and truly in control.
David Farrar has written an excellent piece at his blog, Kiwiblog. It discussed the issue which has been debated in many a household in recent days: namely, the short term versus the long term advantage. Finally we have a National Party stalwart stating what is obvious to many: it is far, far better to seek the longer term, strategic advantage than to enter into a coalition with minor political parties who think they are the Masters of the Galaxy.
We definitely believe that it is far better for the electorally dominant party to take one step back in order to shape the the longer term future of New Zealand. For our money, as a voter, conscientious politics in a secular world involves choosing the least worst options and parties. In many cases this means favouring political parties that most leave us alone. Those parties that attempt to use citizens as cannon fodder to be trampled upon in their mad rush to govern us to immaculate perfection are not just to be avoided. They must be despised implacably.
Consequently, we think Farrar’s arguments are worth considering.
Why my heart wants Winston to choose Labour
I find myself extremely relaxed over what decision Winston may make. This wasn’t the case in 1996 when the tension over the decision was huge.
What I have found interesting is that a fair number of National MPs are pretty sanguine over the outcome also. Like me, they would rather National was in Government – but they definitely see downsides also in being chosen by Winston – especially if he demands too high a price. . . . What happens if Winston chooses Labour and you have a Government propped up by both Greens and NZ First? A number of things.
For the first time the biggest party isn’t Government. Sure the political scientists and Twitterati will proclaim that is how MMP works. But they are not representative of the population. Never before has there been a change of Government by negotiation, rather than a clear election result. . . . Many will see the Government as illegitimate. It will be called the coalition of the losers.
Jacinda [Labour leader] gets tainted
. . . if Jacinda becomes PM despite “losing” in 2017, then she will be seen as not having earned the job by some. Her honeymoon will be shortened. She is Prime Minister because Winston chose her, not because she won an election. National wants to find a way to remove the stardust around Jacinda. Well having Winston choose her will do just that.
A strong opposition
Emma Espiner has written on how National will be the Opposition from Hell if Winston goes with Labour. . . . National will have more seats in the House than Labour and Greens combined. They are only 3% away from being able to govern again. So they only need to gain 1% a year. A party entering Opposition with 45% of the vote is very different to one entering with 30% of the vote.
National will be in opposition because Winston went with Labour, not because they had a bad election result. Pretty much every National MP thinks National ran a good campaign, and Bill was a great campaigner. So it won’t be infighting as Labour has done in opposition. It will be a hungry beast that will want to devour the Government.
Most electorate MPs will be in Opposition
As I blogged yesterday it would be a first to have more electorates held by the Opposition. In fact of the 64 general seats National has 41 and Labour 22. That means you will have the local MP railing against the Government in two thirds of the country. That can and will have an impact.
On economic policies there are some common areas between Labour, Greens and NZ First. On other issues there are massive differences. Winston attacks refugees. Greens have a refugee MP. Winston is against the Maori seats and Labour holds them all. Winston is a fan of Donald Trump and Brexit, while Labour and Greens see them as totally bad. . . .
A provincial/rural backlash
Winston choosing Labour and the Greens (regardless of whether or not Greens get Ministers) will go down like cold sick in much of rural and provincial New Zealand. Around half the population live in provincial or rural NZ (outside three main cities).
Greens may be toast
If the Greens do get to be part of Government, it may be their last one. No minor party without an electorate seat has survived a term in Government.
Government is about hard choices and compromise. The Greens are not good at compromise.
NZ First may be toast
Winston has a slightly bigger safety margin than the Greens, but also no electorate seat. A provincial/rural backlash will hit him the hardest. Even if he only gives Labour supply and confidence, he will still be seen as responsible for enabling their policies, their political correctness etc. . . .
It’s the economy stupid
Yes National is leaving behind a pretty good surplus but the spending demands of the three parties is huge. Add to that the fact they have lots of other policies that will all negatively impact the economy and you have a reasonable chance of rising unemployment, higher interest rates and higher inflation.
Also bear in mind that a global economic shock is overdue. If the economy does go South, National will campaign hard to pin this on Winston choosing Labour and the Greens. . . .
So the options for National are a fourth term of Government or being an incredibly strong Opposition with a real chance to knock out Labour’s coalition partners and send them into opposition after one term.
So, this is the Game of Thrones as it is now being played in New Zealand. Never a dull moment.
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