So, let me get this straight. The Right says that the minor parties have to support a National-led government if National gets more votes than Labour. Even if a National government would go against everything a party stands for, even if it is a complete betrayal of the people who voted for them, minor parties are meant to kneel before Key if his party gets the most votes. What dream world are these people living in?
The Herald reckons only a government including the largest party would have ‘legitimacy’. Key says the Maori Party and other small parties would have a “moral mandate” to make him PM if National gets more votes than Labour. Morality eh? That’s an interesting one. After all, they say that you know you’re winning when your opponents start whining ‘no fair’.
Where does this supposed moral mandate arise from? The opinions of people who voted for another party, even if that overrides the wishes of their own supporters?
Would the Maori Party, United Future, and the Greens be ‘morally obligated’ to back National if it won 2 more votes than Labour? Or does this moral maxim only kick in at 20 votes? or 200? or 2000? or 20,000? or 200,000?
Did this moral absolute apply when it was National with fewer votes in 2005? I’m trying to remember the Herald and John Key saying that Labour would have to govern, that Brash shouldn’t even try to form a coalition and, if he did, it would be illegitimate. Maybe my memory is getting rusty.
Did this same moral mandate exist when Labour won more votes but fewer seats in 1978 and 1981? Did National let Labour govern owing to its clear moral mandate? Maybe some of our older readers can inform us.
Or let’s take a theoretical example. What if we had situation where one wing was split between two middling parties,(say, Labour and the Greens or National and ACT), each polling around 25%, and the other wing had one party polling 40%. Would the wing with only one major party get to rule every time simply because its votes were consolidated in one major party?
Hmmm, this morality thing turns out to be a bit complicated, eh? What seems to be a highly principled statement (to borrow a phrase from Bill English) often turns out to be just self-serving drivel.
The fact is the Government is the party or group of parties that has the confidence of the House. It is the party or coalition that has the mandate of the most voters to govern that ought to govern. There is absolutely no reason why that should need to include the largest party.
The Right is just scared because an LGP+M government is looking ever more likely. Well, Key and the Herald can cry all they want, the fact remains: the legitimate and moral government is the one constituting the largest alliance of parties, whether or not it includes the single largest party.