Espiner says no chance of Maori-National coalition

has been talking to Pita Sharples and on the basis of that conversation says there is no chance of a Maori-National coalition – a gutsy call:

Sharples wants to improve the lot of Maori. He wants to do this from a position of power, believing, unlike the Greens, that the best way to do this is from government.

But Sharples is a man possessed. He’s possessed by the knowledge that no matter what the Maori says or does during its current courtship dance with the Party, his followers know only one party – . He’s frank about this, and when you push him, he admits that the chances of the entering into any sort of coalition arrangement with National is extremely unlikely.

I’ll go further. I’ll say this: the Maori Party will not go into a coalition government with National. If I’m proved wrong after the election, I’ll print out this blog and eat it, live on webcam.

That in itself should be incentive enough for such a coalition 🙂

Note that I’m not saying the Maori Party won’t offer confidence and supply to National (although I think this, too, is highly unlikely) or that it wouldn’t consider abstaining to allow National to govern. But I believe a coalition is out of the question.

If Colin is right, then Helen Clark is going to be very happy.

At the end of our conversation today, Sharples conceded that it would be much easier for the Maori Party if Labour won the most votes on election day. He’d rather deal with Labour, too, I suspect. Even if Labour isn’t the major party, Sharples would look to a deal that included New Zealand First and the Greens first.

As a last resort, if the “other door” was completely shut, the Maori Party would talk with National, Sharples told me, but even then he was doubtful about whether the Maori Party’s supporters would back such a deal.

I am just imagining a Labour/Greens/Maori/NZ First Government trying to cope with the financial crisis and live within its means. More likely are huge tax increases.

So with two and half weeks of the campaign to go, it’s Labour, NZ First, the Greens, and almost certainly the Maori Party on one side. And National, ACT, and United Future on the other. ACT is probably good for four or even five seats, but United Future will be lucky to get more than one.

That means National needs to get very close to 50% of the party vote to have any hope of forming a government.

Or National has to agree to something that the Maori Party want – and that Labour won’t or can’t agree to. I’m thinking seabed and foreshore legislation here.

The maths is cruel, but there you have it. The polls mean very little against the reality of MMP. The only message National should be pushing now is this: If you want to change the government, you must party vote National. Virtually anything else (except ACT) will see Clark reinstalled in Premier House for a fourth term.

I agree that is the desired message.

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