The polls show that the election is up for grabs with a number of coalition possibilities, depending on the final vote of course.
Tracey Watkins summarises the state of play at Stuff and details Possible coalition line-ups after election.
❏ National in coalition with NZ First.
Key’s preference would be to have Winston Peters on one side of him and allies including ACT, UnitedFuture and the Maori Party on the other to give himself options to move to either the Left or Right. But Peters is jealous of his rivals and might make it a condition that the others be kept out in the cold. Key has made it clear the deputy prime ministership would be on the table, but Peters’ previous record as foreign affairs minister would make that an obvious job. Senior Nats have also mused about the Speakership but Peters has so far rubbished that. National would have to make some concessions on foreign investment but could probably live with modest tinkering. Peters has also put tackling exports, immigration, poverty and unemployment on his shopping list. A key sticking point might be tax cuts – National has promised them in its third term, Peters say they are unaffordable.
❏ National in coalition with Colin Craig’s Conservatives.
National’s preference would be a deal in which the Conservatives offer confidence and supply but don’t receive any ministerial portfolios. Craig has previously suggested this would be his preference as well, but a rush of blood to the head once the corridors of power are opened to him could see the Conservative Party leader attempt to drive a harder bargain. If forced to rely on Craig Key’s preference would be to keep his distance – meaning he might try to strike a deal with Peters as well. Craig has made binding referendums a bottom line of his support but has left the door open for a way around that by allowing for a financial veto.
❏ National and the Greens.
The Greens and Key have all but ruled this out – but after a mad election campaign anything is possible. If the Greens were able to wring significant concessions and pivotal portfolios out of National would they cross the line? Unlikely, maybe even impossible – but never say never.
In 2011 National got 47.31% of the vote and were able to make a majority with two seats from ACT and UnitedFuture. A repeat is a possibility but it would be a little surprising if National equalled or surpassed their record high of last election.
❏ Labour and the Greens.
On current polling Labour is too weak to make this option viable. If it got across the line the Greens would want significant concessions and key portfolios including finance. Cunliffe has ruled that out but would have to concede economic development or similar. New Zealand might also see its first co-deputy prime ministership.
Labour and the Greens are promising sweeping reforms on everything from taxes, to the way the Reserve Bank operates, regulating the housing markets, a massive programme to build affordable houses and more interventionist policies to encourage the growth of a smart, green economy. A capital gains tax to rein in the housing market, raising the pension age and universal KiwiSaver all signal a big shift away from the status quo.
❏ Labour, the Greens and NZ First.
The last time Labour was in government with NZ First the Greens were locked out of any power sharing deal at Peters’ insistence. They are much too strong to allow that to happen this time round and Peters’ rhetoric around the Greens has mellowed in recent times in recognition of that reality. On policy, this grouping seems reasonably compatible – they are in sync on issues including foreign investment and monetary policy, but Peters would refuse to deal unless Labour scrapped its plan to raise the age of eligibility for superannuation.
❏ Labour, the Greens, NZ First and Internet-Mana.
If Hone Harawira holds his Te Tai Tokerau seat Labour may not have the numbers to govern without the Internet-Mana Party to get it over the line. Cunliffe has stressed that he has no intention of doing a coalition deal with IMP but is banking on having the minor party’s votes all the same. He is banking that it will have nowhere else to go since it is unlikely Harawira would ever back a National government.
Voter’s options: many and varied – if you haven’t voted you can help make something happen.