CEOs are roughly split on whether National should make overtures to NZ First as a potential support partner at the 2014 election.
"They have no option unless the Conservatives can emerge and rob some of the NZ First (conservative/elderly/sensible sentencing/family values type of vote)," said a capital markets specialist.
"NZ First has danced with every partner and the electorate feels that opportunism rather than shared ideals is its driver," warned South Pacific Pictures' John Barnett. "For National, such an approach suggests 'power at any cost'."
Said a resources sector boss: "Caution required however, as containing a hyena in the tent can be dangerous even though it initially cuddles up to the feet." But it was "worth it to win" said an Auckland business leader. "I'd rather have National in power with a role for Winston than the loony left spending up and ruining the future of this country."
Forty-four per cent of chief executives responding to the Herald survey were against any accommodation.
But 39 per cent took a pragmatic "whatever it takes to stay in power" approach t and 17 per cent were unsure.
Prime Minister John Key has noticeably softened his stance towards NZ First leader Winston Peters since the credibility of the National Government's current partners - United Future and Act - took a pounding. United Future leader Peter Dunne has had to resign his ministerial portfolio and now needs to rebuild his party. Act leader John Banks has been a non-event since his tango with Kim Dotcom.
"As much as it sticks in my craw, I can't see any logical alternative," said a company chairman.
"Key downplays the problem but the Labour/Greens scenario may create the first instance under MMP where the party with the greater percentage of the vote does not end up forming the government.
"I can't see the Conservative party gaining any traction at the moment. They could have garnered some support on the gay marriage issue but let that one pass."
Should National cosy up to NZ First?
• 39 per cent say Yes
• 44 per cent say No
• 17 per cent are unsure.