by John Pagani*
National has aparently done a deal with Ohairu MP Peter Dunne not to compete for the seat.
Not only is National holding a referendum to throw MMP out, they are doing their level best to discredit the system with a series of dirty deals.
Just a step over from ballot box stuffing, taking an intentional dive in multiple seats is not the behavior of a major party that thinks it is cruising to re-election.
As I pointed out in my previous post, National's overt collusion with other parties might create legal problems for them. They need to make sure National Party spending in Ohariu is attributed to Peter Dunne's local campaign, and that Peter Dunne's 'UnitedFuture' party vote spending has to be attributed to National. Otherwise, they will risk exceeding campaign spending limits. Plus, all expenditure in favor of one party needs to be declared. It should probably carry duel party authorisation too, since both parties are colluding on their campaigns.
Meanwhile, what is the likely outcome in Ohariu?
National think they need to to do the deal to save Peter Dunne. Otherwise, why bother? So they thought he was going to lose; the deal is a lifeline.
They must also think that National voters will sheep-like vote as they're told for Peter Dunne.
But voters might not.
A lot of people thought he would lose in 2008, and still National voters would't vote for Peter Dunne.
If they haven't switched to Peter Dunne yet, perhaps they never will.
In which case, the instruction that National is not competing there gives those voters the option of defecting to Charles Chauvel if they don't want Peter Dunne. Unlike in Epsom, it's not as if UnitedFuture is going to bring in any other MPs.
Meanwhile large numbers of people who dislike the cynicism of the dirty deal may be motivated to contribute to the Chauvel bandwagon.