Will Winston decide again?

My Herald column looks at what happens if Winston decides again.

This means that Winston Peters will decide who gets to be Prime Minister of New Zealand for the third time out of six MMP elections. In 1996 he chose Jim Bolger over Helen Clark, in 2005 he chose Helen Clark over Don Brash and if he holds the balance of power in 2011, make no mistake he will choose Phil Goff over John Key, and there will be a Government that can only pass a law if it can get the Greens, Winston, Hone, and the Maori Party to all agree to it.

And imagine the blowout in spending and debt!

Again polls have shown a certain reluctance for National voters to tactically vote for ACT. I speak often to many National supporters in Epsom. To a person, they all want National to have a coalition partner to the right (economically) of National. The debate is whether ACT in its crippled state is worth saving, or whether you do the humane thing and put it to sleep with some electoral euthanasia, allowing a new party to arise phoenix like from the ashes.

The prospect of Winston Peters installing Phil Goff as Prime Minister should be sufficient to resolve that debate. If they do not vote for John Banks, then a change of Government becomes significantly more likely.

Epsom voters now have a clear choice.

MMP is perfect for demagogues such as Peters. He selects who will be on his party list, and they become MPs based on his personal popularity, despite the fact 99% of New Zealanders could not tell you who the top six candidates on his list are. Their loyalty is purely to him, not to the New Zealand public.

STV will still deliver broadly proportional results, but candidates will have to actually be someone whom voters rank high enough with their ballots, to elect to Parliament. This should result in a significant improvement of the quality of candidates, if there is no backdoor through a party list.

I will blog more fully next week on the merits of STV.

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