There’s increasing rumbles in the country side about a Country Party breaking away from National. The roots of this are in the anti-ETS backlash, which National brought upon itself with its behaviour in opposition.
It’s kind of like the Republicans’ Tea Party in the States. Started as Republican astro-turfing, the Tea Party has rapidly taken on because mainstream Republicans can’t actually adopt the extreme Right policies that their militarised base are demanding.
So, it is for National. Now in government, National has to actually govern. One of the things it has to do is distribute the cost of the international price on carbon created by Kyoto at least partially on to polluters. Naturally, the farmers, as heavy polluters who National has been feeding anti-climate change propaganda for years, don’t want to pay and can’t understand why National has betrayed them.
The storm of anger over this betrayal is compounded by what many in National’s rural base see as an overly generous attitude to Maori on issues like the foreshore and seabed, which threatens Pakeha rural business interests. Not to mention raising the driving age.
A Country Party standing apart from National would have more influence over rightwing governments than a rural base submersed within the Party.
Is a Country Party practical? Yes. There’s the population base: 20% of the country lives rurally and most of them are National voters. The rural population is already well organised through an array of community groups and companies. A breakaway Country Party could easily raise the money for a campaign. Winning a few seats and passing 5% should be easy.
Will it happen? Hard to say, but it’s looking more and more likely.
If it does come about, the Right will be reverting to its pre-National days. You see, National formed to bring the Right together with the sole aim of keeping Labour out of power (the name National was meant to show they represented all New Zealand, not just the working class – Labour called them the Nationalists referencing the Franco’s fascists). National brought together Reform representing the urban business class, United (the rump of the Liberals) representing farmers, and the crypto-fascist New Zealand Legion.
Could National, the Country Party, and ACT re-establish the old arrangement?
The Left has already splintered into natural fragments now that MMP makes it possible. The Right might be about to do the same.