Chris Trotter has written on Bowalley Road (hence the link) an interesting premise come 2014.
John Key, the National Party’s moderate but unpopular leader, faces the near impossible task of creating a government out of an election result from which no clear majority is readily discernible – for either the Right or the Left.
The Governor-General asks Mr Key, as leader of by far the largest party, to try and form a government. Day after day drifts by without any sign of a breakthrough. All eyes turn to the leader of the Labour Party. Can David Shearer succeed where Mr Key is failing?
While Mr Key contemplates the election’s intractable political arithmetic, Mr Shearer begins pressuring the Green Party. He needs to know how badly their leaders want to be Cabinet Ministers. Is it possible that, for the sake of the country, they might step aside and allow Mr Peters and his NZ First colleagues to form a minority government with Labour? And would they then be willing to keep that government in office by voting it Confidence and Supply? When the Greens protest, Mr Shearer warns them that any refusal to step aside will almost certainly see Mr Peters pledge NZ First’s votes to Mr Key.
The Greens are in a quandary. As the third largest party in the new parliament, they should be in the box seat – but they’re not. On the contrary, pressures are mounting for them to be written out of the political play entirely.
The Greens are facing the same predicament that Helen Clark delivered up to them. They are simply too extreme to risk in government, they as a party are destined to the fringes, always watching and politicians prepared to cut deals do so.
Every day the mainstream news media finds a new way of branding the Greens as “too radical for government”. Business organisations warn of dire consequences for New Zealand’s economic future should Russel Norman and Metiria Turei come within a bull’s roar of the Cabinet Table. The country’s international credit rating comes under review and international lenders quietly voice their growing fear of a Labour-Green Government to the Governor of the Reserve Bank.
When the Greens point-blank refuse to rule themselves out of government, the political tension is ratcheted up a few notches. The news media immediately seizes upon the fact that National won more votes than any other party. Never before, they correctly claim, has the party which won the most votes been denied the right to govern. That being the case, thunder the nation’s editors, the onus falls upon the “responsible” parliamentary parties to provide National with a working majority.
This is a very real possibility…if the Greens continue to cannibalise Labour’s vote and Labour drops into the 20s in the polls then this is a scenario that may well play out.
With the Greens’ “irresponsibility” taken as a given, and with NZ First’s numbers falling just short of the majority “the country” so desperately needs, the private cell-phones of certain Labour and Green MPs begin to vibrate.
First they are offered the carrot: guaranteed Cabinet seats, High Commission postings, seats around some very important (and well-remunerated) boardroom tables. If that fails, they are shown the stick: video recordings of what they thought were “secret” assignations; terrifying estimates of the tax owing on their undisclosed offshore incomes; pretty-much everything they did last summer.
You could easily peel off the right of Labour…like Shane Jones…many of which are more right wing than the left of National.
The Governor-General gives Mr Key just 48 more hours to form a government. Mr Shearer, secretly informed that a critical number of Labour and Green MPs are about to defect, announces his party’s unwillingness to enter into any kind of agreement with the Greens. Mr Peters announces NZ First’s willingness to join in a “Coalition of National Unity”. National’s caucus meets to deliver Mr Peters’ price – John Key’s political head.
The Governor-General invites Judith Collins to Government House.