John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

John Armstrong: Harawira has little to lose in vote share deal

Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

Sue Bradford is absolutely right. Hone Harawira should think very carefully indeed before committing his fledgling Mana Party to any vote-sharing deal with Kim Dotcom's yet-to-fly Internet outfit at this year's general election.

But having thought it through, Harawira may well be justified in striking a deal which would see the two parties standing together under one banner with a single candidate list - as Jim Anderton's umbrella grouping of parties, the Alliance, did in the 1990s.

Mana really has nothing to lose. Patchy poll results suggest it will be doing well to get even one extra MP into Parliament to join Harawira, who may have a struggle himself in holding on to his Te Tai Tokerau seat.

If Dotcom's party's presence was to boost the combined party's vote to, say, 6 per cent, that would give Mana up to four seats if the candidate list had equal representation from both component parties. It is highly unlikely that Dotcom's political vehicle will get anywhere near that amount of backing. That makes Harawira's threshold-evading electorate of high value to Dotcom.

Although Dotcom cannot stand for Parliament - he is not a New Zealand citizen - he has an unerring ability to create waves. Harawira is also no slouch on the self-publicity front.

Their combined efforts would give Mana a far more substantial profile in the run-up to the election compared to other minor parties. At worst, such an arrangement could be a marriage of convenience - and, if it did not work, a short-lived one.

Sue Bradford's beef - she is a founding member of Mana - is that Dotcom's party is fundamentally at odds with Mana's belief system.

If a deal was struck, some members would walk out of the party - possibly including her.

Maybe. But to do nothing is increasingly not an option.

In contrast, Dotcom is potentially offering Mana far more oomph in capturing votes in the general seats, rather than just the Maori ones.

What's to lose for Harawira and the rest of Mana from taking up the offer?

Only their ideological purity - and that may be too much for some in Mana.

- NZ Herald

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John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Herald political correspondent John Armstrong has been covering politics at a national level for nearly 30 years. Based in the Press Gallery at Parliament in Wellington, John has worked for the Herald since 1987. John was named Best Columnist at the 2013 Canon Media Awards and was a previous winner of Qantas media awards as best political columnist. Prior to joining the Herald, John worked at Parliament for the New Zealand Press Association. A graduate of Canterbury University's journalism school, John began his career in journalism in 1981 on the Christchurch Star. John has a Masters of Arts degree in political science from Canterbury.

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