Vernon Small muses on one of MMP’s downsides – the need for coalition partners:
. . . In Cunliffe’s case, he can be relatively certain Internet-Mana will be there.
His bigger concern is the political Centre’s negative views of Harawira, his Left-wing allies and Internet founder Kim Dotcom – and more generally about the increasingly fractured Centre-Left vote.
Labour’s vote softened measurably after the Internet-Mana deal became known. It believes that was not because the new party took Labour votes but more because it was a bridge too far for floating voters to contemplate a four or five-way alternative government.
And Labour knows – because it has already started – that National will use that against it.
It is a difficult line for Cunliffe to walk. He needs to emphasise the stability of a three-way deal with the Greens and NZ First – both of which have the advantage of being parties that win in their own right and will, if in Parliament, have achieved more than 5 per cent support. He can contrast that with National’s vassal parties, there only at Key’s favour.
Voters could choose a weak Labour Party propped up by the Green and NZ First parties with the added frightener of Internet Mana or a strong National Party with two or three very small coalition partners.
That’s a choice between instability, uncertainty and backwards policies from the left or stability, certainty and forward momentum from the centre right.
But strategising at the party’s weekend Congress pointed up the problem. Labour was stacking up its potential pluses just to get over the line.
It could push up to about 30, with a good ground game and organisation, the Greens bring about 12 per cent, NZ First would add another 5-6 per cent and Internet-Mana would add the final cherry on top. Presto, 51 per cent.
Over at the National conference the previous week, the mirror-image argument was being played out by its strategists.
Achieve close to 50 per cent and we govern alone. Fall to the mid 40s, and Labour with its allies could get the numbers. Subtext? Deals with our minor allies may be crucial, so brace yourself for Key’s announcement of deals with the minnows.
Memo to Cunliffe and Key: if you are counting them into your thinking, so will the voters.
Memo to voters: look less at what they say they will do and more at what they may need to do to win power.
A weak Labour Party would have to do, and concede, a lot more than a strong National party would.