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Monday 08 November 2010


Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 2nd August 2010

Microparties are one of the side-effects of MMP as an electoral system, due to one of its quirks. So, what about their fate in the New Zealand context?

These entities tend to be the flotsam and jetsam of our electoral politics. Some of the sadder examples, like the Alliance and New Zealand First, are the results of personality cults, weakened central authority and factional infighting, which destroyed the electoral viability of both. It is entirely possible that ACT's factional infighting and tactical voting in Epsom may see off National's centre-right satellite party, while United Future need only lose Peter Dunne's Ohariu bolthole to Charles Chauvel at the next election, and that joins the aforementioned.

Well outside Parliament, there are those microparties that have no possible chance to enter it due to their barely perceptible voter share. The Bill and Ben Party polled foremost of these, but has sadly deregistered itself, along with the Residents Action Movement, fundamentalist Family Party and the weirdo male backlash "Republic of New Zealand Party", while the "51st State Party" 's US flag logo has been refused registration by the Electoral Commission. That leaves the "Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party" for purist pot decriminalisation advocates who haven't joined the Greens yet, which polls more than the socialist Workers Party or the fundamentalist Kiwi Party. The latter appears to be primarily a vehicle for securing anti-minoritarian citizens referenda, rather than serious electoral politics. Given that they can't even poll a single percentage point at elections, this is probably a wise move.

What about the future? Labour, National and the Greens are all resolutely stable entities. As for the Maori Party, Hone Harawira is a wild card. There is still the possibility that the philosophical differences that exist between his more robust view of tino rangatiratanga and the rest of his caucus could lead either to a Nga Puhi iwi-based political party, or else a leftist Maori political party, dissatisfied with the concessions that the Maori Party has had to make with the National Party in coalition and confidence and supply.

While Chris Carter has recently been expelled from the Labour caucus due to his disloyalty to the current Labour leader, Phil Goff, he is not intending to stand for his current Te Atatu seat at the next election, nor does he intend to form his own microparty or join an established one, such as (say) the Alliance.

However, to coin a phrase with relevance to the ALCP at least, my advice is don't waste your vote.


NZ Electoral Commission:

Craig Young - 2nd August 2010

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