The latest polls show Winston Peters could be Kingmaker in September. So what way will he go? Alex Tarrant reckons it'll be easier for him to turn left due to Labour/Green Cabinet inexperience

So, Winston Peters could be Kingmaker.

It’s a familiar call ahead of New Zealand’s MMP elections.

For the previous three, this didn’t come to pass. It didn’t stop us saying it though.

And we’re saying it again now.

Radio NZ’s latest poll of polls shows that, based on party votes, both National and the Labour/Greens group may need Peters to be able to form a government.

Peters’ New Zealand First was sitting on 8.7% of the vote. National was on 45.7% and Labour/Greens on 41.9% (30.6%/11.3%).

There is still a chance for National to go again with current partners Maori, ACT and United Future. That’s if the Maori/Mana voting alliance wins out against Labour’s candidates, and if Bill English’s cups of tea with David Seymour and Peter Dunne go to plan in Epsom and Ohariu.

But let’s assume National’s vote continues to slip as the election approaches, and Labour’s Maori MPs manage to pull one out of the bag. And let’s assume at least some of that lost National vote goes to NZF.

Peters will be in the box seat.

The big question is, who is he more likely to go with?

Bill English has made no secret of the door being open for if Peters decides to support National after the election. He’s pretty much offered up a whole tree worth of olive branches in the House in recent weeks, trying to bring Peters round on his new Superannuation policy.

The two have worked together before – as Treasurer and Minister of Health during the 1990s, with English taking on Peters' Treasurer role in 1999 after a brief interlude by Bill Birch. They’ve even been known to cast their memories back together to that period during Question Time and at Finance and Expenditure Committee appearances by English over the last few terms.

But how much power will Peters and Shane Jones be able to wield at such a vastly experienced Cabinet table, headed by a Prime Minister who knows how to deal with him?

Add into the mix that there isn’t much policy overlap (yet) and it looks like this combination would result in fewer big, free-kick wins for Peters on the policy front.

It would require the most behind-the-scenes work. It would require proper negotiations on which NZ First policy’s would be taken on by a National-NZF government.

So my pick is that he’ll lean towards the Labour/Greens alliance first of all.

Peters will be the most experienced member at that table by a long, long way.

Most of the Labour MPs who have previous cabinet experience have either left Parliament or are leaving. The ones who remain won’t have much power anyway. (Ruth Dyson, Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker, Damien O’Connor and Trevor Mallard, who would be Speaker).

Andrew Little hasn’t even led the opposition for a full Parliamentary term. One of the Green party co-leaders has only just taken on the role.

Cabinet positions aside, the coalition negotiations regarding policy shouldn’t be too tough.

All three parties look pretty similar on monetary policy, overseas investment, migration policy, transport, superannuation and state-led house building. These topics are going to dominate the election campaign (bar monetary policy, unfortunately – apart from on Interest.co.nz).

Labour and the Greens should be fine saving a few wins for NZF if it means quiet support on other issues like the environment. Give NZF its free-to-air sport call and watch them sit back happy.

Andrew Little even looks like a Winston-in-waiting. His refusal to consider the Super age rising in 20 years’ time is going to be much more of a hit with current gold card holders than younger voters, irrational as this may sound.

Labour is currently working through an old-age housing-related policy with Grey Power. They are trying to appeal to Peters’ base. Yes, to try and take some of his votes, but this will also show they can look at the same issues in the same ways as NZF.

There’s a sense in the party that Peters isn’t having a go at them as much as he has in the past. And he’s said to get on well with Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei.

Peters isn’t going to let on which way he might go. There is also the possibility that he sits on the cross benches and demands whatever policy National or Labour want to pass must first go through him.

But if he is to get into bed with one of the major blocks, the easiest road will be for him to turn left and rule the roost.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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72 Comments

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NZ first is one of the three parties that I would consider voting for. That would change if I thought there was any possibility that they'd form a coalition with National.

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The NP have failed miserably on the housing front. If NZF was to go with NP, they are not getting my vote

Winston wants to be in power so will go any side and will find justification for being in power so unless he declares before election that will not go with national why take chance and vote for him.

I too may consider voting him but not before his declaration ( which he will not) so why split our vote and will vote for Labour (though they may have solution or not but definately not national)

You know, you'd hope that Winston gives a crap about home ownership for Maori. Given the average income being lower than other demographics, if Winston sides with National it's a massive selling out of Maori in NZ.

Winston cares about Winston. First, last, always.

There is every possibility he will side with national. Best to factor this in and maybe just vote for the side you actually want him to form an alliance with. A vote for him could mean a vote for forming a national government.

Absolutely agree.

Hi fat pat
I think there are a lot of Kiwis out there who feel exactly the same as you. I suspect that the majority are disillusioned former National voters who are genuinely concerned about the future New Zealand we are bequething our children and have decided to put a better future for them ahead of GDP figures that may or may not benefit us in the short term. I just can't see how Winston can ally with NP as every policy statement he has made is at complete odds with them. I want to vote for him as he is not scared to take immediate and strong measures to force a real change. I too wish he would come out and tell us which side he is on. I think if he did he would increase his popularity.

People of NZ will be voting for change and if Winston may go with national than vote for winston will be a vote for national.

Though may want to vote for Winston, will have to think twice. Atleast not me.

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Mr. key claimed NO housing crisis. Yesterday's article in nzherald Auckland is a speculators paradise. Not a balanced system.

Well...yeah...but then John Key is a speculator by profession. Made his money taking a slice while trading other people's money in currencies.

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10 years ago to get elected John Key and National promised;

1. To restore the kiwi dream of being able to buy a house
2. To fix the RMA to stop land banking
3. To only sell state houses to tenants not developers and to replace the state houses sold so that housing waiting lists would fall and homelessness would be addressed

National said housing is important because it provides New Zealanders with a stake in society, the ability to see a future, that it is great for the family unit and great for children -they can stay in the same school.....

In 2017 we get to hold National accountable for their failure to deliver on their housing promises.

Here is a 2007 video of John Key making these housing promises.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWPgoAI1cLE

Brendon what a great video. Thanks for posting it.
"Kiwi dream they intnd to deliver on"
Great legacy left behind... kiwi dream in ruins

John Key is the ultimate spinster. He's taken the country on a 10 year joy ride.

Any trained psychologists/psychiatrists on this site? I'd be interested in your take on him in terms of personality assessment, traits etc. His ability to deny/live in denial to things, bend the truth is a little disturbing. Is he sick?

My limited psychology training doesn't relate to that type of assessment. Also I don't think making those assessments would be appropriate. John Key doesn't appear to be mentally unwell, he is well aware of what he was doing and did it anyway. He's just a shitty person. No doubt there will be a mental illness added to describe being a shitty person at some time in the future but not today.

Psychopath is one clinical term for a particular type of "shitty person".

Gee...compelling, isn't it?

It makes it difficult to believe anything other than that John key was a cynical liar who simply wanted to be PM.

You would think that that would form the basis of an election winning advertising campaign. This has been obvious for at one election if not two. It is concerning that Labour have not effectively made much of it.

:)

National, Labour and the Greens are fundamentally different to NZ First as the former are globalist. NZ Firsts intellectual outputs are too limited to garner much support. They are white baiters passively relying on votes to flow into the net.
I worry that NZ First can be taken over. They seem more interested in the RMA than immigration lately?

Winston will go with whoever offers the best deal. Also if he's at around 8% now he always makes a few statements just prior to the election that will see him gain a few percent support for when it counts.

If people want change and they vote for Winston then it's only a 50:50 chance of change.

I agree, ultimately he will go with whoever gets him into power. Of course if your a voter you should be looking ahead because you can keep him out of the equation the same as what has happened in every election before. None of the other parties are going to touch him unless they are put in a position where they have to deal with him. Lets face it none of them want to be sitting in the back benches for another term.

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There is an assumption that Winston only has elderly votes. Millennials who are fed up with the housing crisis are starting to support nz first. I say this not as a nz first voter (which i am certainly not), but as an observer.

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Also anyone who thinks immigration is too high.

Quote:- "There is the possibility that Winston Peters sits on the cross benches and demands whatever policy National or Labour want to pass must first go through him"

Yes

If Winston Peters enters into a coalition with either major party he will merely enjoy shared power

If he is really smart he will occupy the Cross Benches and wield total and absolute power

PS: the same reasoning applies to the Maori Party

If NZ First and the Maori Party both really wanted to make a difference they could enter into an unholy alliance and hold the major party (minority government) to ransom

This coming election will be a serious test of how smart Winston Peters really is

.. I was under the impression that elections are more of a test of how smart the voters are ...

Which explains why certain people ... such as George W. Bush and Donald Trump .... got elected into power by the fine upstanding voters of the USA ...

... dum dum dum dum dum ....

The coming election will be a very, very serious test of how smart New Zealand is...but then, some people can be bought and paid for....as I have said many times before....it may not be in their own best ...interest.

Long term. Problems, are still problems. nothing much has been done to fix them, they are already....slowly but surely....Fixed.

Long term we maybe renters in our own tiny piece of paradise, but will not be able to actually own it...if not very astute and cannot see the writing on the wall, nor understand the language it is written in.

The average New Zealander has an IQ of about 100.
They will have all the knowledge you would expect to be obtained from the school system, and from the tv news, and facebook feeds.

Other New Zealanders who have read more than the required school reading list, will be a little more knowledgeable.

My point is critical thinking is a skill, not an intrinsic ability.

Are you sure it's that high? - 45% of the population have consistently voted John Key for the last decade. Or are they just the population with IQ less than 90? Or does IQ have nothing to do with voting preference when self-interest justifies preferred PM/Party which has obviously been the 'Key' to Nationals success.

Sorry I was a bit cryptic, average IQ is 100 by definition. And yes that was my point, voting preference comes more down to knowledge and critical thinking skills. And as you mentioned self-interest.

The failure I see when you couple capitalism with democracy, is that it's always going to result in boom bust cycles.

The 'haves' prosper for a period and government support them in their capitalist endeavors while they are the majority. But under this system you increase the population of 'have nots'. They will eventually outnumber the 'have's'. When this happens the voting power falls to the 'have nots' and governments have change regulations to support the 'have nots which opposes the forces of capitalism (i.e. power to the many not the few).

Long term I don't see how democracy and capitalism work if ultimately what is best for everyone is stability, growth and prosperity - there must be a balance. Creation of 'haves' and 'have nots' opposes this and causes instability.

And the more I think about this - post-GFC we have artificially created more 'haves' or people who perceived themselves to be 'haves' by flooding markets with cheap money. This has aligned capitalism with democracy, hence the strong support for National. But as interest rates rise and asset prices balloon, the 'haves' realise they're not really 'haves' and become 'have nots'. National really couldn't fail in a low interest rate environment. But as interest rates return to normal levels, we'll realise our 'success' has been a fallacy.

I had to laugh at the delusion of david Seymour on TV show the nation, ACT only get their place in parliament because of the grace of national, how long will they put out the welcome mat before they say we might as we will hold the seat.
same with peter dunn
as for NZ first the problem is WP ego, he needs to attract stuart nash or shane jones to take over, they need a high profile person of the centre with charisma otherwise they to will disappear once he has gone.

david seymour only sneeze and he would be a list MP or MP for Epsom for National...he is also about the only half sane person in the beehive

In the words of Macmillan: 'Events, dear boy, events', will sway the election leading up to September.
NZ First will gain an increased party vote, but they need to allay suspicion of joining National.

Agree that Winston Peter has an opportunity of a life time to win big and for that will have to commit that come what may will not go with National but greed of power wil prevent him from doing so though he is totaly opposite national policy but greed is might.

For small gain is and will not be able to see bigger picture.

So vote for anyone but national and now also anyone who may support national.

Let election come and this 45% support for national will prove to a myth.

This election I will be voting for whichever party is going to give me, personally, the best deal i.e. bribe, to vote for them.
I am tired of always considering the welfare of the country before my own. Naive, I know, but I was a sucker for fair play for all in this country. The last two governments, in particular, have shown me that 'greed is good'. None of the current crop (and recently departed) parliamentarians have much to offer NZ going forward, no vision except how to retain power. So I will play their game. If they want my vote, they will have to pay for it. Roll on the next few months.

Bill Boy will look into that for you - what's your price ?

I'll settle for a future for my children and grandchildren in the country of their birth - refer Brendon's comment, above, and accompanying link to John Key, who in my mind has been the greatest disappointment of recent Prime Ministers. So much promise came to absolutely nothing!

Tax cut and NP will be a shoo in for the next 3 years...

Sounds good -
But not too many people down here at the bottom of the heap pay a lot of tax - a cut wont mean too much

Well doh. Bottom of the heap doesn't mean jack to national.

Good idea, they can make the loss by increasing GST to 18% and increasing student loan repayments.

I just wish everybody would stop thinking that WP is the saviour.
He IS NOT.
His record when in coalition says so.
He has had his chance,now it's time to move on.

He still coverts the baubles of office ...

... though I have a sneaky suspicion that he will deny this ... .. again !

Interesting analysis, Alex - but with respect to this statement: "But how much power will Peters and Shane Jones be able to wield at such a vastly experienced Cabinet table, headed by a Prime Minister who knows how to deal with him? ...

I suspect Winston Peters and Shane Jones (has he confirmed he's standing for NZF?) would run rings around a National party-led Cabinet.

Either that or he'd be sacked from Cabinet again, like he was by both Bolger and Shipley. Thing with Winston and Shane, they're not the type to back down on their principles. So, really, either BE would have to play ball - or he'd find himself governing without a coalition majority.

And it does seem that the NZF principles align more closely to Labour at present. I don't recall Winston ever having a serious falling out with Helen Clark either - if not wrong, she had NZF support near all the time while she managed minority coalitions under MMP..

national were very worried about shane jones becoming leader of labour. in the House he easily out shone JK, he has the background to cover a lot of areas, and he had the X factor that is why they went after him with everything they had and managed to get him out with a created plum job.
he would have moved labour back towards the centre.
that said he would fit nicely in NZ first, hold northland for them and is a good mate of WP.
I have just seen the list for the GP, they are slowly replacing the far left wingers with people for other back rounds that care about the environment.
maybe someone can tell them the biggest problem is too many people using up resources so cut back on people. That always puzzles me about the GP as to why they support high population growth in NZ
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11830384

Sorry Shane Jones has had his day. Time to move on not back.

The two biggest issues in this election will be housing and immigration. People have had enough of the BS in these two policy areas. If Winston can appeal to NZers on these two issues, he will have my vote and I believe he will capture over 10% of the overall vote and hold the balance of power.

I was polled just the other night. I gave my party preference to Labour - not necessarily becuase I will vote for them (I'm presently undecided, and that was question too) but I wanted to give Labour my vote in order to bring them up in the polls :-).

Polls are funny things. I recall a nephew of mine in the US stating Trump's polling during the Republican nomination run was simply wrong/too high - in that when it came down to it - folks wouldn't actually tick a box for him :-). But, gee - they did - not only for the Rep nomination, but ultimately for the Presidency.

Maybe a lot of folks simply ticked the box because the polls said Hillary was a shoe in?

To me, polls are dangerous things. In my opinion, we'd all be better off voting 'blind' in terms of what other people's preferences might be. Perhaps then we'd focus on party policies instead.

If Winston assures me he is going to reduce immigration, he has my vote, not because I am xenophobic but because we need to build a house

i don't think a residing prime minister has really helped anyone build a house unless it was their son or daughter, the main person to get you on the property ladder with a new house is you. good luck and dont wait around for others to give you help

We don't want the prime minster to "help" us build a house. We want them to set the rules so the system is fair and works for kiwis. Not that big an ask.

You are asking for Utopia

Nope, that is not Utopia, that is utterly reasonable.

People can gelp themselves by voting national out who are working more for foreigners and their elite few than aversge kiwi.

Sp people will help themselves - not to worry on that part

There was once a Prime Minister who built his own house with his own hands.
NZ has slipped a long way from this sort of leader.

ah but you could not build as he did now, too many rules and regulations

I once planted flowers at G Palmers house in St Heliers while i was on a Uni job...might drive by to see how they are going...

Well that certainly applies to the current and last prime minister. I certainly don't want to be helped I would just liked to be put on even playing field

Immigration, housing and speculation domesic and foreign need stopping. Bring in dti and stop int free loans, and compulsory cap gain on anything that has had 1 cent of tax offset registered against it.

Labour policy ban foreign buyers resident & non resident (so all foreign students and temp visa) on existing properties.

15% stamp duty on investors buying existing properties.(put an end to flipping)

For those that missed it check out labours new election promo video

https://youtu.be/cWPgoAI1cLE

Put an end to flipping and better rights for tenants.

The biggest issue has been property prices rising ad finitum. Now those are falling will probably help National as they can say they have addressed the issue.
Winston is too old and like is too interested in going to sporting events around the world at the taxpayers expense and the rest are frankly third rate.
A year ago I said I wouldn't vote for National but personally I don't see any alternative other than the muppet show.
I don't life referendums but maybe we should have one for the term of government? Three years seems a ridiculously short period for implementing policies. Where else in the world has a shorter electoral period?

9 years is too long a time to get into I, me, myself more so for national

Time for change.

Atleast will be spared from arrogant Smirk along with........

Careful what you wish for , you just might get an even bigger bag of rubbish

Or not

I'll vote for Winny again. My hope, as always, is that he would curtail the worst excesses of whichever side has power. The less politicians are able to do the better off we are.

I'll vote for Gareth Morgan ... .. has anyone ever come across such a hyper-active angry man ... a snapping crocodile on anabolic steroids ...

.... ye gods , he is so funny ...

The Opportunities Party has put the fun back into politics .... I'll vote for that .... and they're sticking to the main issues facing Kiwi citizens , not being sidetracked by red herrings , pony-tails or Hagers .... I'll double vote for that ...

How much of the vote will NZ First need for Winston Peters to become PM?

26 % .