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Alliance Splits

Alliance leader Jim Anderton announced this afternoon that he and Sandra Lee will not stand under the Alliance banner at the next election and indicated the pair would form a new party.

He said the move would not affect the stability of the Labour/Alliance coalition government and they would remain as leader and co-leader of the Alliance until the next election.

“I will make no apology for standing at my post and nor will Sandra,” he said of the move, which side-steps breaching the Electoral Integrity Act.

He said an interim management committee was being formed to explore the support for a new political movement.

“If New Zealanders come forward with the passion and commitment … then a new political movement will be formed to contest the next election,” he said.

An announcement on the future of the new organisation will be made in May.

He said hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders welcome the Alliance’s achievements in government but can not support the Alliance as it currently presents itself to the country.

He said those people would support a movement that would be a reliable, constructive common-sense coalition partner to Labour.

The deputy prime minister blamed members of the Alliance Council for the break-up, who he said had no interest in being part of a co-operative coalition government.

“It is impossible to run a constructive and co-operative strategy in government when senior members of the party organisation publicly disparage government and privately undermine it,” he said.

He said Gregory Fortuin, who will stand down as Race Relations conciliator for his part in mediating between warring Alliance factions, was a victim of a leak that exemplified the kind of undermining behaviour shown by council members.

According to Mr Anderton the replies he received to the letter he and Sandra Lee sent to the party membership last month showed the Alliance council did not represent grass-roots views.

Of 3730 households who received the letter, 2121 members replied. Eighty-one percent said they fully supported Mr Anderton and Mrs Lee in their commitment to constructive coalition government; eight percent felt they could do more to reconcile points of view in the organisation and eight percent said they no longer supported them.

Mr Anderton said today’s announcement proved wrong the opponents of MMP who said it gave too much power to unelected party officials. He said the majority of Alliance MPs say Alliance Council members can not expect to govern the country as de-facto MPs, riding on the coat-tails of elected representatives.

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