What does he mean by that?
At first sight it seems obvious what he means. Next year’s election will essentially be between National. Labour/Greens and NZ First.
The question it has raised is whether he considers Labour and the Greens to be one party in terms of coalition negotiations.
They’ve signed a memorandum of understanding that means they’ll work together in the lead-up to the election.
It doesn’t commit them to anything after the election, but they’ll almost certainly form the next government together if they have the numbers to oust the government.
Should Peters be the king-maker, and all the polls indicate he will be, which party would he first negotiate with?
His previous post-election position has been to first deal with the party that wins the most votes.
If that’s National, there’s no issue.
But if the combined Labour/Greens vote is more than National’s, would he first go to them?
He will want everyone to think so. But there are bottom-lines to Winston’s participation, and one is that he will never share a cabinet room with Green MPs.
Or would he consider Labour, which has little chance of beating National one-on-one, to be a main party on its own?
In that case he would first negotiate with National.
Peters isn’t likely to clear that up any time soon. He has never explained what he intends doing post-election, and he won’t this time.
But it’s an interesting scenario, even though which side he deals with first might not mean much in the end.
He’ll get the most out of it that he can, and that could mean trading one side off against the other.
Yes, he’ll maximise his returns, much in excess to the electoral support for his party. Most importantly, he will want to lock in certain wins that will guarantee NZ First an increased party vote in 2020.
NZ First is stronger than it was in 2014, when there was a question hanging over its ability to reach the five per cent threshold.
Its poll ratings have been consistently higher since then and Peters has won the Northland electorate seat.
Peters has previously rejected the option of being part of a three-way coalition, and he’s likely to do so again if the Greens have more seats than NZ First.
Or would be consider it’s a two-way deal because Labour and the Greens are joined at the hip?
The question will be: will the Greens remain a coalition partner outside of cabinet just to allow Winston and Labour to replace National?
– Peter Wilson, NZN