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Has “no mates” National found a friend at last?

Has “no mates” National found a friend at last?

As the 2008 General Election approaches, for many commentators, the contest is all over bar the shouting.

Repeated polls show that the lead the National Party currently holds over the incumbent Labour Party is now so large, the word is that National “could govern alone”.

Observers of political history are aware that as the General Election date draws closer minor parties within our MMP environment come into their own, boosted by a concentrated media presence and an electorally attentive audience. The large mainstream parties correspondingly lose a percentage of their voting bloc and reduce their majority hold, as citizens begin to ponder potential coalition partners or confidence and supply supporters for the larger parties.

Even a casual glance of the make up of our current Parliament illustrates a simple fact: while the Labour Party has recently had a historical coalition or confidence and supply arrangement with a total of 5 parties within the House of Representatives (New Zealand First, Greens, United Future, Maori Party, and Progressives), the National Party has only 1 small party (ACT) that it could legitimately call on as a current ally. However, the fact that ACT may only have the potential of 1-2 seats and a relationship with National that has not been smooth since Rodney Hide took over the Party does not provide the answer National will need.

This being the case, it is feasible that even if the National Party won the 2008 General Election, it could risk losing a winning majority in Parliament, owing to our MMP environment, and the myriad of partnership options available to the Labour Party.

In 2008 however, the National Party may be able to call on a new player in the political field that is extending a potentially dedicated hand of friendship – The Kiwi Party.

For the first time in an MMP environment, a political party is laying its collective cards on the table, and informing the Electorate not only of its preference for a coalition partner (National), but also of its outright rejection of the political status quo (Labour).

In 2005, many voters became increasingly frustrated with so called “centrist” parties that would not declare their legislative allegiances prior to the Election, making voting for a “centrist” party a glorified democratic lottery.

The Kiwi Party, headed by former MP Larry Baldock, aims to crystallise the parties potential coalition intent, and do so early.

“The desire of Kiwi’s to see a change of Government in 2008 has now reached a groundswell which is impossible for any rational person to ignore. The Kiwi Party wish to ensure that the Electorate is aware that we support the National Party in securing the Government benches in 2008, with the Kiwi Party being seen as a potential secure coalition or confidence and supply partner. With the National Party so far in front of Labour, the key choice in the voters mind is likely to turn to who they would like to support National in a coalition arrangement – frankly, I believe that the Kiwi Party is the party best suited for such an arrangement. The Kiwi Party is however also mindful of some of the harsher legislative policies that the National Party chose to pursue in the 1990’s, so I also see us as being a responsible social and economical mediating influence on National” says Mr Baldock.

If this “declare your hand early” strategy of the Kiwi Party gains traction with the Electorate, the National Party looks to now have a better chance of winning both the 2008 Election, and the House of Representatives, without being held to ideological ransom in the process.



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