Negotiations are premature – wait for the special votes

In the 48 hours or so since the election results became obvious, commentators have been talking about how the election results might look once the special votes – all 400,000 of them – have been counted. Others are talking about the negotiations under way. They are trying to determine who will govern and how their deal will be reached.

All of this I find somewhat premature. No one knows how those 400,000 votes – which are thought to likely cost National a couple of seats – will play out. For all we know, despite the past history of specials suggesting that the Green Party or Labour will do best, National might pick up a seat or David Seymour might not have to rename A.C.T. the David Seymour Party.

I am also sure that the negotiations will not last nine long weeks like they did in 1996, when New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was king maker. He stitched up a deal with the National Party from which he had resigned just a few years earlier to form New Zealand First. Unfortunately for him, New Zealanders were annoyed with the length of time it took and support for his party plunged. Only because he held the Tauranga electorate and took it back by less than 100 votes did New Zealand First survive the 1999 election. I am also sure that both Prime Minister Bill English and Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern will not be wanting a hastily stitched up deal that fails only a year later. Should one or the other be after such a deal, they should concede the 2017 election now.

But, okay. Let us suppose for a moment Labour and the Greens pick up another seat each. That gets Green Party candidate Golriz Ghahraman, an Iranian who fled to New Zealand when she was a child into Parliament It means National will have to concede a seat. Another seat may be conceded for Anna Lorck, the highest ranked Labour candidate to not enter Parliament. If this were the case, National would be down to 56 seats in Parliament. They could still negotiate with New Zealand First.

So let us see how this turns out. One thing is certain. This election is not quite over yet.


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