How long can a Political Party survive without a leader?

Leaderless Team

Leaderless Team

The New Zealand Conservative party was founded in August 2011. Its leader, Colin Craig, resigned as leader on 19 June 2015. The party have been managed by a board for 12 months now. On 19 November last year they stated on the Conservative party website that the newly elected board was looking to appoint a new leader. Six months after that announcement there is still no leader in charge of the New Zealand Conservative party.

Despite the lack of a leader the Conservative party have continued to issue press releases. Their latest release was on 8 April regarding Child Youth and Family changes by the government. How long can this unorthodox situation continue? If Political parties are boats, the leaders are their rudders.

As far as I know it is unheard of for a party to be leaderless for 12 months. I can only conclude that one of two things is the reason for this lack of action.

Possible reason number one: they have no suitable candidates for leader within the Conservative party ranks or no one who is willing to become leader. John Stringer became the interim leader but on 5 July he was forced to resign when it was claimed that he had been suspended from the party.

A board meeting was scheduled for 27 June 2015 and Day called for Craig to be expelled from the party. Rankin and two other party members, Sensible Sentencing Trust leader Garth McVicar and Family First founder Bob McCoskrie, ruled out contesting the Conservative Party’s leadership.


Possible reason number two: they have no intention of replacing Colin Craig and are keeping his seat warm while he continues to fund the Conservative party and fight his many court battles. (This  includes his baffling battle to be paid more than $13,000 for the publication of an excerpt from a romantic poem that he wrote to his former Press secretary.)

The party’s founder and main financial backer also hinted that he would he would seek to reclaim the leadership of the party, possibly at a later date.

“Politics is all about comebacks,” Mr Craig said.

Since resigning as leader last month, he has been gauging support among the membership through a postal ballot.

He said he had received around 2000 responses from members, and around 75 per cent had been supportive.
-A Newspaper (July 2015)

However, Craig said he was still an avid supporter of the party and would not rule out a return to leadership if elected to do so by a new board.

-Stuff ( Nov 2015 )


Craig is not ruling out a return to politics.

“I haven’t closed that door and we’ve got thousands of supporters that are very keen for us to be involved.

“It’s a matter of taking some time.”

The current defamation action around his claims there had been an orchestrated campaign against him would need to be resolved first, he said.

-Stuff ( Feb 2016 )

The New Zealand Conservative party are between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand they really need the financial support that Colin Craig can provide them and, on the other hand, his continued involvement in the Conservative party means that with or without him as leader the party are finished. Their only hope is to free themselves financially from his influence and elect a new leader.

Craig has donated more than $4 million to the party he founded. He is the only major donor apart from Waikato businessman Laurence Day.

 – Stuff




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  • George

    It’s hard to say. Labour have lasted seven years but the wear is starting to show.

  • duve

    We need a political party in the niche that was occupied by th Conservatives. We don’t need the party which Craig single handedly wrecked. Can somebody please start a new party, the sooner the better.

  • Isherman

    OK, hands up who else read the headline and thought the post was going to be about Labour.

    I mean, it could have been, given Labour might as well be without a leader at the moment.

    • Keeping Stock

      My sentiments as well Isherman, especially now that Winston Peters is three percentage points ahead of Little as the most preferred Opposition politician, despite the fact that Winston First is only the third largest Opposition party. That doesn’t say much for Little, or for Labour and the Greens.

    • Diehard


    • Alan Beresford B’Stard

      I did, once I realised it was about Craig I lost interest.

    • R&BAvenger

      Guilty as charged M’lud. Was going to comment that Labour were the experiment in this notion, but George beat me to it with a similar comment.

    • Woody

      Yep, the headline got me. I don’t believe the so called Conservative Party i
      had any current credibility so they didn’t seem to fit the headline but Labour have Little so are to all intents and purposes leaderless.

  • Bud

    Personally, I think political parties should be outlawed; they are little more than trade unions for politicians and have a similar corrupting and inefficient effect on everything they come in to contact with. The only thing political parties have ever and will ever represent is themselves.

    Having said that a leaderless party is a step in the right direction…