Hamish Rutherford at Stuff writes about National’s coalition options and the possible scenarios for gifting an electorate to Colin Craig:
The current theory circulating around Parliament – albeit one apparently denied by McCully himself – is that the foreign minister will announce he is withdrawing from the race for East Coast Bays, and do so so close to the election that National will not have time to pick another candidate.
Were National to replace McCully, there is a risk that voters may not take the hint, whatever Key says, especially if Labour voters voted tactically.
In the past electorate deals have had a certain amount of respect for the voters of those electorates. Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne both won their electorates and then left their parties; Rodney Hide campaigned in Epsom for much of 2005 and could genuinely argue that he represented those voters and there was a transition period and degree of continuity with Banks. But pulling your candidate a couple of weeks – at most – before the campaign and telling the voters, ‘We might need Colin Craig so you have to vote for the lunatic because we’ve taken away your preferred candidate, because Craig could never beat him,’ seems like a very risky thing to do.
People don’t have to cast an electorate vote. They can go into the booth and just tick ‘Party vote: National.’ Or they could party vote National and give Labour their electorate vote. Or they could just say, ‘Fuck this,’ and not vote.
If National ‘gifts’ an electorate seat to Craig then they’ll pay a cost to that in several ways: they’ll lose right-wing votes to the Conservatives – people who don’t want their vote wasted a second time, but will switch back to Craig’s party if they think he’ll win a seat, and they’ll (probably) lose centrist votes to Labour. There’s also the opprobrium attracted by such a dirty deal. Sure, they can bleat all they want about how Hone Harawira is doing something similar, but I think National voters want their party to set a slightly higher bar than ‘we’re no worse than Harawira.’ And Colin Craig still might not win the seat.