Internet Party, Mana merge
The Internet Party and Mana have signed a partnership that will see the two parties enter the September 20 election with a combined list.
Mana will have first, third and fourth positions on the list, with the Internet Party taking second, fifth and sixth spots (founder Kim Dotcom cannot stand as he is not an NZ citizen. He also faces the complication of his extradition trial, due to begin in July).
The Internet Party is in the process of selecting candidates. 170 members have put their names forward. A popular vote will whittle the list down to 20 before the final selections are made by the party's executive over Queen's Birthday weekend.
The combined party will be known as Internet Mana. It will have to collect 500 paying members before it can register with the Electoral Commission.
The focus will now be on how Mana leader's Hone Harawira's key lieutenants — the Dotcom-dubious John Minto, Annette Sykes and Sue Bradford — react to making way for Internet Party candidates. Ms Bradford has been openly hostile to Mr Dotcom, whom before aligning with the hard-left Mana described himself as business-friendly and donated $50,000 to conservative Auckland Mayoral candidate John Banks. [UPDATE: Ms Bradford resigned within half an hour of the merger being announced.]
The spotlight will also be on how voters in Hone Harawira's Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) Maori electorate react to the alliance.
A Te Karere-Digipoll poll late last year found Mr Harawira in a close race with Labour's Kelvin Davis, with Mr Davis nudging ahead.
Purely in terms of electoral strategy, this is a savvy play by Mr Dotcom and Internet Party CEO Vikram Kumar.
If Mr Harawira holds his seat, and the combined party's list vote tops 2.5%, an Internet Party candidate will get into the Beehive on his coat-tails unde the rules of MMP (TVNZ and TV3 polls Monday showed the combined vote still well under that mark).
But for the Mana leader it's more of a gamble. How will Mr Dotcom — described as a "fat rich white prick" by one of Mr Harwira's staff — go down in hardscrabble Te Tai Tokerau, where issues like unemployment are more front-of-mind than the GCSB?
Mr Harawira will be hoping Northland voters look past Mr Dotcom's Mercedes-loving image to Internet Party policies that include a boost for education, and subsidised internet.
And the erstwhile Mana leader will also get access to some rich party funding. Earlier, Mr Kumar told NBR that a Dotcom family trust would tip $2 million into establishing the Internet Party — cash that will presumably be on tap for the combined Internet Mana. So far, Mr Dotcom has donated $250,000 to his own party.
As ever in politics money will help — but there are limits, as the $1.5 million spending Colin Craig discovered at the 2011 election.
For now, the blunt reality of MMP is that the Mana-Internet Party alliance will likely benefit National, chipping 1 or 2% from the Labour-Green bloc's total.
RAW DATA: Internet Party statement
INTERNET PARTY-MANA PARTNERSHIP A WIN FOR DIGITAL GENERATION
The Internet Party has hailed its partnership with the MANA movement as a win for young New Zealanders.
The deal – brokered by Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom, party chief executive Vikram Kumar and MANA officials including leader Hone Harawira – has been formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the two parties submit a combined list of candidates to contest the party vote in the 2014 General Election.
While both parties will retain their separate identities, a new political party called Internet MANA will be formed.
“Our ambition has always been to get the voice of young New Zealanders – the digital generation – heard in Parliament,” said Mr Kumar.
“Every vote for Internet MANA will effectively strengthen the momentum for change and hope in New Zealand.
“For a new party, achieving the 5% party vote threshold is incredibly tough because the system is loaded in favour of the incumbent parties. This is one of the reasons why we have come to an agreement for an alliance with the MANA movement. Together we are stronger. Together we will be able to achieve our ambition of building a better, fairer and more inclusive New Zealand, as well as advancing our party-specific principles and policies.
“The Internet Party’s vision and mission remain the same. People who believe in us can vote Internet MANA in the knowledge their vote will make a difference.”
Internet MANA will submit a combined list to contest the party vote, with candidates drawn from the Internet Party and MANA movement as component parties. The combined list will be finalised following the conclusion of the Internet Party’s candidate selection process.
MANA will have first, third and fourth positions on the list, with the Internet Party taking second, fifth and sixth spots. The Internet Party will also announce its leader this week, and its candidate selection process will culminate at Queen's Birthday weekend with final presentations by applicants to party members.
Both parties will retain separate identities to contest electorate seats – MANA in the Maori seats and the Internet Party in selected electorates. The parties will not compete against one another in any electorate.
“The Internet Party will be in Parliament after the 2014 General Election,” said Mr Kumar. “A party vote for Internet MANA means we will be a position to advance our policies and effect the change our members want and that New Zealand desperately needs. Every vote will make a difference.”
The full Memorandum of Understanding between the Internet Party and the MANA movement can be found HERE.