The Maori Party may have made it harder to do a post-election deal with National when it announced yesterday that support for legislation to entrench the Maori seats would be "a bottom line" in any negotiations.
Co-leader Tariana Turia made that clear in Christchurch yesterday.
Changes to the law affecting Maori seats requires only a 50 per cent majority. But law relating to the general seats is entrenched, meaning it requires a 75 per cent majority of Parliament to change. The theory behind the different majorities when it was put into the Electoral Act was that the Maori seats were temporary.
If National employed its former maxim "one law for all" it might easily agree to the Maori Party ultimatum.
But its policy is that it sees the Maori seats as temporary and would begin abolishing them in 2014, the date it has set for Treaty of Waitangi grievances to have to be settled. And the Maori Party's new position may be seen as a step further away from that.
National leader John Key last week conceded that a compromise was possible and that the abolition of the seats was not a bottom-line policy for National.
Yesterday Mr Key said National would go into any discussions in good faith with the Maori Party, Act or United Future "and see where it leads us". He reiterated National's position of wanting to abolish the seats and said he would campaign on it.