If political parties were literary works, The Opportunities Party would be a haiku – short-lived, full of life and difficult to comprehend.

TOP was, to put it delicately, sent to a lovely farm in the countryside earlier this week just 18 months after it was set up with much hullabaloo to contest the 2017 election.

TOP toppled at the hand of its creator, founder (and funder) Gareth Morgan.

It followed the Internet Party, de-registered by the Electoral Commission last month after disclosing it did not have the 500 members required to be registered.


Just before the Internet Party, the Ban 1080 Party and the longstanding United Future party were also knocked off the list.

They join the ever growing scrap pile of small parties meant to have a chance under MMP but which either got nowhere or got somewhere only to be swallowed by their Jurassic big buddies.

Whether left, right, centre or completely off the planet, few survive.

TOP, the Internet Party and the Conservative Party have all been described as "vanity" parties set up by wealthy men – Gareth Morgan, Kim Dotcom and Colin Craig respectively.

So it is somewhat ironic that Morgan cited the vanity of the voters as his reason for folding his party.

Morgan had to take fair bit of flak for his election campaign observation that Jacinda Ardern to Labour was the equivalent of lipstick to a pig.

Jacinda Ardern responds to Gareth Morgan's 'lipstick on a pig' tweet.

Morgan pointed out that after Ardern took over Labour's leadership its polling soared without any change at all in policies.

Morgan's closure of TOP is effectively a concession that the lipstick won.


It is a shame because Morgan attracted interest and debate, sometimes even about policy ideas.

Things sometimes got wild but parties such as TOP added some piquancy to the campaign.

It also stood a chance of getting somewhere had it persisted.

It was no mean feat getting to 2.4 per cent less than a year after setting up and in an election in which support for the smaller parties was squeezed by the juggernauts.

Parties generally build over time unless there is a lightning rod issue to elevate them. That was the case with the Alternative for Germany Party in 2017. Its anti-immigrant, far-right stand saw it rocket up to 12.6 per cent of the vote in 2017, giving it 94 MPs.

Despite all the predictions and the global unrest, there was no such lightning rod in New Zealand.

So here we are with five parties in Parliament and 11 others registered outside Parliament.

In Germany the Bundestag has seven parties and more than 30 parties contested the last election. Admittedly only the seven now in Parliament got more than 1 per cent of the vote.

Trotskyists, anti-immigrants, neo-Nazis, greenies, angry people, jokesters, centrists, right and left had parties specifically geared for them.

In New Zealand the diet is more restricted, perhaps by common sense or indifference as much as population size.

But the diet is at risk of getting too bland if fringe parties fall by the wayside completely and NZ First or the Greens suffer the same fate as other minor parties have in government.

Should the pool of parties shrink further, there will inevitably be calls to revisit the 5 per cent threshold required to get into Parliament.

As in Germany, that was intended to stop a flotilla of small parties making it hard to form stable government. But it could also result in a First Past the Post style Parliament.

The experiences of parties such as TOP may well put others off giving it a go. It will take someone with Morgan's pockets and a leader of some charisma to pull it off.

There had been talk about Kaitaia doctor Lance O'Sullivan taking the helm of TOP to get in in 2020. It is not yet known what happened, but O'Sullivan may well be the one to set up a new party should he get the financial backing.

Some of those who tried and failed are also trying to reincarnate themselves, although that can be more challenging than a totally new party.

The Conservative Party is in the process of trying to address its brand damage by re-launching as the .... wait for it .... New Conservative Party.

The Act Party is also going to try to reinflate itself soon. Its leader David Seymour is proposing a relaunch early in the new year.

A new name, possibly, a new logo, new messaging.

Morgan would likely describe that as lipstick on a pig too.