“That’s MMP for you” John Key smugly proclaimed in justification of his charter schools policy. Apparently, it’s MMP’s fault that he chose to rort the system and then us the one ACT MP as an excuse for unmandated rightwing policies. But why are the Nats suddenly acting so haughty and pushing through unmandated policies? The answer is MMP.
Yes, Labour got a trouncing at the polls but under MMP that doesn’t mean National had a landslide. In fact, they may end up with exactly the same number of MPs as last time, 58, and, at most, one more (not so many wasted votes this time).
National+ACT+UF will equal just 60 or 61 – a bare majority at best – not the easy 64 majority of last time. National+ACT+UF+Maori Party would equal only 63 or 64 if the Maori Party is stupid enough to sign
its own death warrant a confidence and supply agreement, compared to 69 last time. And that’s likely to drop by a seat or two when Sharples and Turia leave in about 18 months.
So, the Nats’ position is significantly weaker despite a result that appears to be about the maximum that the New Zealand public is willing to give a single party – don’t forget National shed 3-4% compared to the final polls and about 6% over the campaign – New Zealanders won’t give one party carte blanche (National’s grievous error in giving NZF all that air-time helped too)
Next time – probably no Maori Party, likely no ACT (especially if Labour, the Greens, and Mana get smart and don’t stand candidates – Parker standing in Epsom to boost his profile for a leadership race only to pull out of that race at the first hurdle was so silly), and maybe no Dunne if Labour has even a slight resurgence or the Greens and Mana get smart in Ohariu too (it’s dumb to whine about the Right using legitimate tactics and fail to respond in kind in those seats).
National would have to hold all its party vote and hope New Zealand First doesn’t get back in, or the Conservatives do.
It seems clear their strategists don’t think that will happen. Not with them selling our assets and years more of delays on that ‘brighter future’ as the economic misery continues. Key’s personal turning point with the public came two weeks before his re-election (just as it did for Clark in 2002), and he will never be as popular again. The ipredict money is already on National losing in 2014, days after their record result.
So, National will go for broke this term. Push through all kinds of crazy stuff – a lot of it pure ideology (spending cap, asset sales, charter schools, welfare privatisation, RMA reform, work rights attacks, cuts to the minimum wage). They know it will cost them votes but they’re not going to win another term anyway, and the MPs with their jobs on the line will be non-entities like Cam Calder and Aaron Gilmore, so they’ll get in what they can.
The first term was about doing a little, stopping Labour doing a lot, and getting re-election. This term is about doing whatever they can before they get turfed out. National’s playing with nothing to lose these next three years, and that’s what makes them so dangerous.