So John Key is no longer ruling out the possibility of National going into coalition with NZ First. As Karol has pointed out this is a dramatic change from his previous position and when you review what he has said in the past it is a stark change. Stand by as the forces of the right engage in a major revision of our recent history to try and persuade us that nothing untoward is happening. TV3′s recent poll may be the first of many events suggesting that Peters is now acceptable.
There is a principle of sorts at stake. This is the principle that National MPs are born to rule and will do what is required to gain and retain power. If this involves the demonisation of another party’s leader and then the subsequent offer to him of a senior role then this is perfectly consistent with this principle.
The likely reality is that Winston Peters will be the king maker after the next election. If he decides to support a National administration then history will be repeating itself because his party was the go to party for administrations in their third (and in this case hopefully final) term in the last two Governments. But a third term with this bunch in charge will leave the country in tatters.
Why is Peters a likely king maker? The simple answer is MMP dynamics and the need to get over or close to 50% of popular support. Labour is stuck in the low 30s in the polls and support is drifting away. Without wishing to express an opinion about why this is so all that I say is that Labour’s MPs need to spark. The Greens have performed well but have plateaued around 12 to 13% of the vote. The combined left vote may struggle to reach 45%.
None of the other parties appear to have the ability to return to Parliament with numbers. Hone should be back but probably only by himself, Flavell may hang on, Banks is gone and Dunne is done. The Conservatives are the only possibly viable new party and they are currently polling below the MMP threshold.
National is in the high 40s in recent polls but I am sure that this support will ebb away as it did during the last election campaign. They will not be able to rule in their own right unless things dramatically, dramatically change.
So it will be up to Winston who leads the country next time.
He appears to be very reluctant to go into coalition with the Greens and such an arrangement would be very unstable. The parties’ world views are too different and the respective styles are too jarring. I would expect that NZ First would be far too obstructive to any policy designed to address climate change for instance. It is likely that such an arrangement would fail.
National on the other hand will be prepared to do whatever is required to hold onto power.
So there is a large risk that Peters may become a Deputy Prime Minister after the next election in a coalition with National. Be afraid, be very afraid …