Bryce Edwards has an overview of the two ‘secondary parties’, New Zealand First and the Greens, and the status of their relationship with Labour, and I think a lot of the stuff he’s linking to is absurd. To wit:
Speculation continues about whether Peters is more likely to go into coalition with National or Labour. There are many good arguments for both prospects. But there are increasing signs that Peters might smartly position his party to operate on the ‘cross benches’, where arguably he may have much more power. By essentially holding a minority government to ransom, a party on the cross benches could have major influence over legislation on a day-by-day basis.
This is something Matthew Hooton has argued could happen: ‘Mr Peters’ greatest driver is to be at the centre of events. The best way for him to achieve that in 2014 is to stay outside the government, offering no one confidence and supply. That would enable Mr Key’s government to limp on but without Mr Peters having to take responsibility for its decisions. Even more attractive, whenever he was so inclined, he could engage on an issue, putting himself on centre stage. To pass a Budget, the government would either have to negotiate with him for months in advance or – more likely – have to present it to Parliament with no surety of passage. Dramatic concessions could then be demanded in exchange for NZ First’s votes. No doubt it would all end in tears but it would be a rollicking three years. Mr Peters would love it. He could then retire to the north, go fishing and have a good laugh with his mates’
I don’t know if Hooton believes any of this or not. But Peters is very predictable. He wants a senior Cabinet role and corresponding dignity and salary. The chances of him sitting on the cross-benches and depriving himself of these prizes is zero. If he’s kingmaker after the election he’ll go into coalition with National because a National-New Zealand First government affords him higher status than a Labour-Greens-New Zealand First government. Although obviously his ability to enter into a coalition with Labour will give him leverage when negotiating the terms of his deal with National.
With the relevance of New Zealand First apparently increasing, it appears as if the Greens are correspondingly decreasing in relevance. This is partly due to the Greens faring poorly in recent opinion polls, but also because they appear to have no leverage over Labour to ensure they are included in any potential Labour-led Government after 20 September.
Labour now appears to be tilting more towards NZ First, and away from the Greens.
There’s no doubt that Labour would love to be in coalition with New Zealand First and not the Green Party. The problem is they’re at least 200,000 votes short of making that happen, and trending down, and Labour/NZ First need to win those votes from either National or the Green Party and not from each other. The chances of that happening aren’t zero but they’re pretty close. Problematically for Labour, 42% of their 2011 voters want to see a Labour-Greens government, while only 25% want to see a Labour-New Zealand First government (numbers sourced from the NZES). So Shane Jones’ attacks on the Greens might be enormously satisfying to Labour’s MPs who view the Greens as a bunch of loathsome hippies who are stealing their votes, but is more likely to damage the party’s support among their actual voters.
The most probable post-election scenario today is a National-New Zealand First government. If there’s a Labour government – somehow – it will involve the Greens.