Prime Minister John Key has made his preferences for coalition partners clear.
He also stresses the importance of the party vote:
. . . “First and foremost, National will be campaigning hard for every party vote it can win, because that puts us in the best position to continue the positive policy direction New Zealand is on.
“Put simply, the higher National’s party vote, the more options we have. . .
National didn’t need to invite the Maori Party into coalition in 2008, it chose to do so.
A higher party vote gives more options for a major party because it would be able to approach potential coalition parties by choice rather than through necessity.
It was difficult to win an outright majority under first past the post, no party has managed it under MMP.
The PM’s first preference for coalition partners is those he has worked with successfully already – Act, the Maori Party and United Future.
“I know that post the 2014 election, National will almost certainly need to work constructively with other political parties to form a stable Government.
“Since November 2008, we have shown that we can lead a stable Government with other political parties involved, even when those parties have different outlooks and policies.
“Looking ahead, it is most likely that the nature of these working relationships will be via Confidence and Supply Agreements, as these have worked well in the past two Parliamentary terms.
“In the end it is the public who largely determine the make-up of the Government by voting in parties to Parliament,” says Mr Key.
Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future. . .
By making this clear voters have a better idea of what they might be getting.
“I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group.
“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.
“We also have policy differences with the Conservative Party, however it is likely that there would be enough common ground to work with them in Government.”
Voters also know what they won’t be getting if National is able to form a government:
In terms of other parliamentary parties, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis that there is insufficient common ground to achieve a stable and successful working relationship.
“These parties represent a far left wing agenda that we do not believe is good for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.
Labour is a bit confused about how left it is, not helped by a leader who sways further left with some audiences than with others.
With regard to New Zealand First, Mr Key said that he believed a post-election working relationship was very unlikely; however he would not rule the possibility out ahead of the election.
“In 2008 we ruled them out because we were unable to reconcile some of their statements on the Glenn donation matter. Six years has passed and, should New Zealand First be returned to Parliament, we would not rule out a discussion after the election.”
This has excited the media but it is clear New Zealand First would be a last resort.
Whether or not National is in a position to form a government and which parties it will need, or be able to choose, to invite into coalition is up to voters who now know which parties are preferred, which could be considered and which would be ruled out.
The more votes National has, the more options it has and the the more stable the government will be.
On current polling it would certainly be a lot more stable than a Labour/Green government with other parties in tow through necessity and therefore able to exert a much stronger influence than if they were in government by the bigger party’s choice.