… Mr Key appears to understand that such majorities tend to shrink on polling day and that, in any event, unforeseen occurrences during a parliamentary term make it prudent to have minor-party backing. Thus, wisely, he has indicated he could negotiate post-election coalition deals with parties such as United Future or the Maori Party even if National gained enough votes not to have to deal with anyone.
And gasp even the Greens and NZ First!
Act, even more so, is an obvious ally for National. They should be co-operating constantly in each other’s best interests. Their recent history has, however, defied such logic. Last year, Act made a number of tart comments about National’s shift to the centre under Mr Key’s leadership. Now, Sir Roger’s re-emergence has added another potential banana skin. National does not want its moderation called into question by Labour Party suggestions that it would be overrun by a far right agenda after the election. In March, therefore, the possibility of Sir Roger sitting on a National-Act cabinet was swiftly rebuffed by Mr Key.
Labour’s rapprochement with the Alliance before the 1999 election points to the path that National and Act should be travelling. The smaller party is making that difficult, however. The more that Sir Roger is reported as fancying the job of finance minister, the more Mr Key worries about voters fleeing back to Labour, or to another party that could check National.
If a party gets 13% or more of the vote, then it is possible they will get a very senior Ministry such as Finance. At 3% one will not. You’ll probably get one mid level portfolio.
Act, however, must campaign in a way that does not make life difficult for National. Sir Roger and his economic programme may be its chief branding weapon, but it must recognise that every vote lost by National diminishes its own chances of being in government. In the final analysis, it is in no position to make huge demands. It would do well to note the Alliance’s coming together with Labour and the subsequent development with Jim Anderton’s Progressives.
Well ACT will campaign in a way which they think is best for them. But campaigns have consequences.
Mr Key has taken an early opportunity to reach out to the minor parties. It is not something that National has done too effectively in the past. Forging post-election coalitions has been more a strength of Helen Clark. Pragmatism is the key in making such arrangements. In that respect, all parties have to play their part.