Signs of a National-NZF government

POLITICAL ROUNDUP

Dr Bryce Edwards

Winston Peters says he will decide today on a coalition partner

The day has arrived for Winston Peters and New Zealand First to decide which major party to put into power – even if the announcement won’t actually be made today. It really could go either way but below are 10 items that suggest Peters will be inclined to choose National. A follow-up column will look at signs of a Labour-NZ government.

1) The Greens could be too unstable in coalition government
Former National cabinet minister Wayne Mapp has plenty of experience with MMP, and offers his observations of How coalitions are made (and destroyed). Mapp draws particular attention to the need for stability, arguing NZ First will be wary of the Greens proving reminiscent of the Alliance, especially on foreign affairs: “If the Alliance could self-destruct over Afghanistan in 2002, then it is quite possible the Greens would do the same in similar circumstances.” See also Newshub’s Greens could be 'stumbling block' to Labour victory - Patrick Gower

2) Going with National will be simpler for NZ First
In a column written prior to the release of the final results, leftwing political journalist Gordon Campbell put forward a number of reasons he suspects NZ First will go with National, including “a formal coalition with National would (a) create a bigger margin for passing legislation and (b) be cleaner to manage, in that only one other partner would be involved” – see: Peters’ end game in the coalition talks. Campbell says “All things considered, while it’s not impossible for Peters to go centre-left, it seems less likely. So to my mind – and this is only a wild guess – the likely options are between a formal coalition with National, or a confidence and supply deal with National.” In his latest column – Is Winston Peters our best current defence against market extremism? – Campbell cleverly foreshadows the rationalisations that will accompany Peters’ decision – whatever it may be – and says we can also look forward to “a stern lecture as to why the decision he reached had always been so very, very obvious.”

3) There will be too much backlash from a deal with Labour and the Greens
If NZ First chooses Labour and the Greens, there will be a massive backlash against the party, according to National Party blogger David Farrar: “For the first time the biggest party isn’t government. Sure the political scientists and Twitterati will proclaim that is how MMP works. But they are not representative of the population … Those who say there will be no backlash don’t understand that not everyone is a political scientist. Many will see the government as illegitimate. It will be called the coalition of the losers” – see: Why my heart wants Winston to choose Labour. In addition Farrar suggests, “Winston choosing Labour and the Greens (regardless of whether or not Greens get Ministers) will go down like cold sick in much of rural and provincial New Zealand.”

4) If NZ First wants to sit on “the crossbenches” outside of government, then National is more likely
According to Mike Hosking, if NZ First chooses to stay out of government entirely, it will likely choose National: “If a confidence and supply deal is the way we go ...you'd have to favour National, if for no other reason that it as a singular party has more support than both Labour and the Greens combined. For a third player to support two other players into government that can't together equal the support of the single largest player is not democracy ... and wouldn't go down well at all” – see: Major parties acting like subservient wimps

5) National’s superior vote is just too strong for NZ First to ignore
The “moral authority” of National to govern means the incumbents are likely to be chosen by NZ First, according to John Roughan, writing on the day the final results came out: “When the final result of the election is declared today National is almost certain to have its victory confirmed. The margin over Labour will probably be reduced but still decisive. We should pause to acknowledge what an historic result this is” – see: A fourth election victory is truly historic. Similarly, see Roughan’s earlier column, A personality cult decides our next government

6) National might be more able to help NZ First with a legacy
National Party sources have told Richard Harman that the party can’t necessarily compete with Labour in offering policy concessions to NZ First but there might be other gains they can offer, such as helping Ron Mark or Shane Jones win their electorate seats at the next election, to secure the survival of the party when Winston Peters retires – see: Winston faces a dilemma - policy or legacy

7) Many commentators deem National the likely winner
The Spinoff website asked a number of pundits the question: Which way will Winston leap? Most of those surveyed seem to think National will emerge victorious. For example, Steve Braunias explains why: “I think Peters won’t want to be part of a loser triumvirate. He’s great at picking winners. He’ll go with National. Also, he’ll be the equal or the better of English, alongside him in government; alongside Ardern, he’ll just look like a silly old second-rate prat.”

8) Following its traditionalist inclinations, NZ First will opt for National
Stuff political editor Tracy Watkins says National has the edge to become government: “The odds are still weighted in National's favour. Peters is an old-fashioned politician and, despite the theatre, will be taking seriously the weight of public support behind National” – see: Winston Peters is in the box seat, and don't we know it. Watkins sees a re-run of 1996: “Peters' reasons for going with National back then were the same ones that will take priority in 2017 – whichever of Labour or National he chooses, it will be based on Peters' belief in it being the most stable and more durable of the two options.”

9) NZ First is conservative
According to veteran political columnist John Armstrong, writing soon after the election, Winston Peters will be very aware of “the risk he would be taking in hitching his unique brand of conservatism to the political correctness exhibited by Labour. Peters likes to talk a lot about bottom lines. But his ultimate bottom line is the survival of New Zealand First after he (eventually) retires from politics. And that will incline him to lean more in National's direction as post-election negotiations progress over coming weeks” – see: Winston Peters' ultimate bottom line

10) NZ First has lost its more left-wing supporters
Much is being made of NZ First supporters being more favourable towards a coalition with Labour. Yet during the campaign, many of these supporters shifted to Labour. Colin James explains: “If you had to assign New Zealand First conference delegates to National or Labour, most would go Labour. The same majority applies to its policies. But the fact that New Zealand First’s support halved after Ardern was made leader might mean its residual supporters are mostly National-leaning” – see: English on top but facing a stronger Labour

Finally, for the latest in coalition satire, see Toby Manhire’s Hi Winston, just a few thoughts ..., Ben Uffindell’s Winston Peters said nothing in talks with National, just walked around room with a box cutter, Scott Yorke’s These coalition talks and Steve Braunias' Secret Diary of the coalition talks.


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34 Comments & Questions

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Im inclined to think that National should cut Winston free and stand alone. Let Winston join Labour. The consequences will be another election in 18 months because the damages caused by a Labour coalition will be so far reaching.
Winston is always a wage earner, never a business owner. He can only ever be in opposition, never actually a decision maker.

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Just perusing the facts before us he appears positioned to make quite a significant decision.
If a government is established broadly within the time frames he has set down then it is a matter of fact that he has demonstrated strong leadership in what would otherwise be a crisis of systemic indecision.
So with the greatest of respect...I do not concur.

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What a nonsence.

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Winston will kill NZ First if he goes with National

National inaction and lack of foresight allowed the housing crisis to occur and that was helped by their immigration open door policy. Their policy is not aligned to NZ Firsts and what they have proposed only came out during the election due to them finally realizing they were on the wrong path
It's only Nationals desperation and will to do absolutely anything to stay in power that they are around the table - you might remember just a few short weeks ago they were trying to kill off Winston and NZ First. National has no empathy to fix the countries issues - they just want to stay in power at any cost - even if it goes against their traditional principles

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You're partly correct but Peters going with National does not mean he's accepted the housing crisis,immigration situation,foreign ownership etc etc. You have seen the power Peters has at this time? You will know National will give Peters virtually anything to retain power at this time? You know that in coalition, National will need Peters to approve any policy on such matters before it becomes reality? I'm certain Mr Peters will feel powerful and confident that he will be in the drivers seat for the next three years by going with National. He has them over a barrel courtesy of MMP. What happens in 2020 will be a different matter altogether. Peters going with National is now $1.01 where as the odds with Labour / Greens is $66 and drifting.

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I'm still at a loss as to what national government has to do with the housing crisis. It seems like everyone blames them but I don't expect national government to be building houses.

The housing crisis is pretty much entirely the fault of local government. They are the ones who control the consenting process, they control the inspections, and they are responsible for infrastructure.

National government could have an impact by reducing immigration so that builders can't come here (which Labour & Greens want to do). They could turn off the taps to offshore capital so that people couldn't build (which Labour & Greens want to do). They could scrap or change the RMA and consenting process (but we are regularly told by Labour & Greens that the RMA doesn't limit housing).

The simple fact is that Auckland and Christchurch councils are controlled by the Labour Party and Left-Wing elements. A narrative has been allowed to build up that National is responsible for the housing crisis and so the local Councils have continued to hold back on allowing housing to be built as they know that doing so harms the Nats.

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As you've pointed out, central government has ultimate control over a number of critical factors. Not to mention, they actually also ultimately have control over local councils - as evident by what they've done in Christchurch following the earthquake.

They've done nothing. Not ever reformed the RMA.

They're still stuck at not admitting there's a housing crisis at all, let alone starting to address it.

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"I'm still at a loss as to what the government has to do with the housing crisis"

The Nats wierdly seem to have convinced many of their own supporters to ignore the basic tenants of economics and believe that the housing market is purely about supply .. and that demand has nothing to do with it. Meanwhile, in the real world, the Nats have enabled the mammoth twin demand drivers of massive immigration and overseas-based purchasing to turbo-charge the Auckland housing market in particular ....while all the time rubbing their hands like Pontius Pilate and going on and on about supply -- and their stunning initiatives on that front. And, as new figures out yesterday show, a staggering 98 free-market affordable homes have been built under the government’s Auckland Housing Accord so far. Game changing indeed.

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I agree with all of this, but should it come to pass, Bill English has been given one heck of a fright - indeed a warning.

Two main societal problems need serious addressing - getting immigration 'right' - it is wrong right now & clearly it hasn't been taken seriously by this government. Winston will see that this is rectified.

The other is mental health & how that impacts crime, homelessness, 'poverty' & poor homelives - perhaps parenting too.

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The question will also be, can Bill now admit that there's a housing crisis in New Zealand, after nine years of denying it since campaigning on it?

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12) To me, this “sign” is obvious, but I have seen no-one else actually state it (I leave ACT out of my equation below).

A Nat/NZF government would have a majority of 11 over the opposition. A Lab/NZF/Grn government would have a majority of 7 over the opposition. It's simple arithmetic. Any government majority of 11, is better than a government majority of 7.

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My hubby takes a huge interest in politics and is closely connected to people 'in the know'. He has it on good authority that the *biggest impediment* to Winston going with Labor, is Grant Robertson.

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Why? On what grounds?

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Apparently, it all stems back to an unfortunate misunderstanding on Grant's part some years back. Before they first met, someone had mentioned to Grant that Winston was ''a Man's Man'

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Please keep it up Mr Edwards. Shout it from the roof tops.
Then the contrary Mr No will go with labour so he can say, "you didn't know what you were talking about, that's obvious".
So please please. "Cry it from the roof tops please".

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Winnie will go with Labour - he can tout his experience, “know it all and fix it all by myself” and relegate labour’s leader’s inexperience as “fit to run a mom and dad’s baking business” rather than run and manage a country. He will see fit to front the media as if he is the king or PM , instead of smiley Ardern.

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I know of 3 traditional National voters who party voted NZ First because of immigration and home owners living overseas and empty homes here. I personally do not like Peters. I do not like the way he treats journalists and his lack of attention to detail. However, he is ex-National, his party is conservative and he would challenge National policy. He is no fool and vastly experienced and will be around for 2 more elections.

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Winston will have to go with National otherwise the country will be in turmoil and there will be a rebellion against the three losers party

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Well there is certainly one man who knew exactly what he was doing and that is John Key.

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Agree

John Key knew if he sat on his arse and did nothing for 8 years he would look good and by the ninth year everyone would have worked out how useless he was as the data started to go against his strategy - exactly what has happened.
You and the others must now feel foolish that you all got sucked in

All John Key was interested in was John key and his huge ego

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He came.
He saw.
He dithered.
He left.

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And put in policies that personally enriched him

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I'm utterly convinced these coalition talks are a complete farce. Winston Peters made up his mind before election night that should he hold the balance of power which he was very confident he would, then he would go in to coalition with National providing it was a two party coalition. Peters would be in a very powerful position for the next 3 years and we all know how important that is to him. He would have gone with Labour if that had been a two party coalition. The moment Labour needed The Greens also to govern was the exact same moment they were out of the race. Peters can't afford anyone to know that especially Bill English. That would have taken away all his bargaining power and let's face it, Peters is the best negotiator in NZ Politics. It's vitally important to Peters that both main parties feel it's still a 50/50 chance with either side. He's using National's uncertainty and their quest to remain in power as the biggest and best negotiating weapons. The fact The Greens have not been involved in negotiations is VERY telling. If you can't even negotiate with them at this time, how can you possibly govern jointly with them? It must also be remembered that if Peters went with Labour / Greens, what would happen then is The Greens need to go away and get the deal signed off by 75% of their executive. In other words, Peters would not only lose control of the entire coalition result, he'd also be gifting all the power of the final say with The Greens. Peters would only ever do that when hell freezes over. Peters will let NZ know just when it suits him what he has known all along. That being he will go into coalition with National. In doing so, he will of course have 100% guaranteed that in 2020, NZ First will be wiped out and consigned to the history books.

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It's ridiculous that MMP has allowed the man who couldn't even hold his own electorate seat to be the biggest winner of the election. Now we have this farcical situation where Mr Prickly himself tries to ridicule every journalist for having the audacity to ask questions about the present situation. I'd rather throw the election results in the bin and call for another election. Something must also be done to avoid subjecting NZ to this farcical situation ever again. Peters is now saying even after negotiations with the two main parties are completed, the announcement of the decision will depend on the logistic availability of the board. He's got to be having a laugh. Peters can play with the two main parties,he can play with journalists but he should never be able to play with NZ voters.

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Well said. Additionally, nobody knows who the NZ First Board is (officially)!! What a BS country this is. Where is the outrage...what a bunch of losers.

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Don't let the door hit you on the way out then.

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He's the only one who knows how the play the game - suck it up

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Suck what up?

Ironic that you should use the words "play the game".

I think NZ has had more than enough of one man "playing a game".

Do you remember when he made his first speech when forming NZF in 1993? People just wanted to know the name of his party so he strung them along with a long winded speech and then quoted the name of his party right at the very end of his speech. It was a power play game up in lights.

Then when he has gone in to coalition previously. He spins it out as long as possible so he stayed centre stage. It was farcical power plays and a charade.

Now we have the present pathetic joke. Make no mistake about it, Peters has known since election night EXACTLY who he will go in to coalition with. National of course. Labour having to team up with the Greens absolutely ruled Labour out of any coalition with NZF. If you understood the inner workings of Peters, you'd understand that.

The coalition talks are a complete charade aimed at doing the following. Have Peters as the most powerful man in NZ for as long as possible and play / screw one side up against the other with ZERO transparency so Peters and his offsiders can claim just about anything / everything they want. It's been the worst abuse of power in NZ Politics I've ever witnessed in my life time.

On election night, Peters knew he had until the 7th October to bathe in his moment. He couldn't announce his coalition partner until the specials had been counted. To do otherwise would have been an affront to those voters. He pretended he wasn't happy with the time frame of counting specials but once again, that was a charade. It allowed Peters to play his power game and suited him perfectly.

Most people anticipated what the result of the specials would be. An experienced politician like Peters would have anticipated better than most yet didn't start the farcical negotiations until after the specials. That's 14 days of limbo that could and should have been avoided. A 14 day power play from the king of power plays. It would have been easy enough to have a proviso over those early negotiations.

In order that NZF have the dominant position in the farcical charade of negotiations, it's imperative that both major parties believe they are a 50/50 chance of being chosen. Peters has very carefully controlled and manipulated this entire process to achieve that goal despite the fact there is absolutely zero chance of him choosing Labour. Peters has contempt for the Greens and the fact they have played zero part of the all important negotiations orchestrated by Peters is huge.

Now comes Peters next power play for cabinet positions. Once again the farce of it still being 50/50 is being pushed by Peters to ensure he gets exactly what he wants for himself and his offsiders. This has ZERO to do with putting our country first. It has everything to do with putting Peters and his crew first. Cabinet positions should be held by the person most capable of succeeding in the role. Peters is turning that process in to a farce so Bill English has virtually no choice but give Peters what he demands. It's made a complete mockery of our democracy and should never be allowed to happen again.

Not only is Winston Peters the most powerful man in NZ at this time, he has through his own making, well on the way to becoming NZ's most despised man.

I sincerely believe, NZ should go back to the polls at the earliest possible opportunity. Let NZ choose it's Government. Not one man who couldn't even retain his own electorate seat. Holding NZ to ransom and an epic abuse of power sums it up perfectly.

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Nobody seems to comment on the fact that not only did Peters not win his seat, not one of the NZ First or Green MPs has been elected by the voters!! Who do they represent?

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Another who doesn't understand that parties publish a list and receive party votes?

Strewth, the pining after FPP wherein the majority of the country gets no representation at all in power...embarrassing.

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NZ may be best served in NZF sat on the cross benches with National as a minority government, after agreeing to support National on confidence & supply in exchnage for National agreeing to deliver on various NZF wishlist items.
By this arrangement, NZF can choose to either:
(1) vote in support with National of matters NZF also agree with with;
(2) Not vote on items NZF don't have a strong view on (in which case National an out voteLabour-Greens-ACT);
(3) NZF can vote against National on issues they don't agree with, in which case LAB-GRN-NZF can vote it down;and last, and very imprtynatantly, NZF can also choose to vote for issue raised by Labour-greens that NZF actually agree with.

With the observation that NZF got smashed in elections after going into formal coalitions with both national & Labour, adopting a cross bench position and influencing poilcy s mentioned above might best serve NZ?

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Exactly. That would be the best outcome for democracy under MMP.
The question remains ; why did Labour not pursue this strategy and get some policy wins itself?
What Labour has done i.e. hand the keys to Winston , makes absolutely no sense, unless labour wanted to play FFP with our MMP parliament.
Is it not time that Labour (and National , should it find itself in a similar position in the future) stopped giving minor parties the opportunity to subvert the proportionality that the voters delivered in the parliament? We want parliament to make the laws in an inclusive way so that the country remains united. We don't want to end up shooting each other , as in the U.S.A.

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Kia Ora Winston Peters you know what’s good for our country and it’s not national it was national that sold our country they don’t look after the poor selling our homes to China moving our own people out of homes becoming homeless legalised sinthetic drug didn’t help the families that lost their loved ones in mining industry cutting funds for their own adventures that’s has nothing to do with our country or people they only think about the rich getting richer it should be equal share rich average poor as 1 this country is already overpopulated with foreigners which makes it harder to find homes , jobs for our own so mr Peters if you don’t want to see this happen again leave national in the dirt that’s where they belong they don’t love the people of Aotearoa New Zealand So save the people and make this place a better place

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I would pleased to see an analysis by Dr. Edwards of the reasons why Labour should/should not not have given National confidence and supply in return for some policy gains.

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