Will Clark seek confidence next week?

Winston Peters has made it clear on Radio NZ he will not step down, so Clark has to decide today whether to sack him or not. It she does, it sounds like NZ First will regard it as a breach of their confidence and supply agreement and withdraw confidence.

Some people think that just because no formal confidence vote is scheduled, the Prime Minister can remain in office without having the confidence of the House. This is not so. No Right Turn has a good post on this issue. You need to have the confidence of the House, even without a formal vote scheduled. Jenny Shipley in 1998 was able to show she did, after also sacking Peters.

If the PM sacks Peters, she should ask for a confidence vote on Tuesday.

If she does not, the Opposition could write to the Governor-General and point out that the Prime Minister now only has 54 votes for confidence (incl Copeland and Field) and 57 votes against confidence plus 10 abstaining. The GG could then ask the PM to demonstrate she has the confidence of the House.

If NZ First abstain on supply and confidence, rather than vote against, the Government would survive 54 – 50. So the key question is Clark sacks Peters is will she call a confidence vote (only Monarchs govern without consent) and how will NZ First vote on that confidence vote?

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