COMMENT:

David Seymour is on the comeback path.

Last time I checked, before he started dancing, he was going to have a look at a small party in Germany which had suffered similar issues to Act and had since enhanced their outlook, expectations, and results.

His hope was that he could replicate the same trick here, and his conference over the weekend produced a very Act-like idea: smaller Parliament and abolition of the Māori seats.

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Neither idea is new, both ideas are broadly popular. But nothing has been done.
I suspect the outcome this time will be no different to every other time.

We had a referendum on the size of Parliament once, we loved the idea of reducing its size, 80 something per cent voted for it. But the trouble with reducing Parliament is you need the politicians to support it. You need them to vote themselves out of work.

The trouble, dramatic Germanic changes aside, with Act is a lot of what they espouse is eminently sensible.

Smaller Parliament, fewer ministers, less government, no race-based seats. Those aren't ideas people vote against, they're just not ideas that swing votes towards you.

Charter schools are a good idea, but they haven't moved the needle for Act. Nor has their time in government - Act has been a sensible, professional supporter of the National government.

But look where it has got them. And that remains their issue, just what is it they need to do to get some vote, to get any vote.

Obviously if the deal in Epsom hadn't been done Act would have been history years ago.
The halcyon days of nine MPs are a distant memory.

And the irony of the halcyon days, is if you believed Roger Douglas in the 1990s when he launched the party, they were aiming for 50 per cent of the vote. So nine MPs wasn't all that halcyon at all, but comparatively spectacular if you fast forward and compare them to now.

Act has the same issue all small parties have: the big parties.
Between Labour and National they've gone so centrist, there's hardly any room left to get attention, far less votes.

And you'd have to believe that if Seymour ever did get some traction, he'd be taking it off National anyway. And in an MMP environment, it's the total package that gets you to government.

National are on 45 per cent, Act are on one.
If Act went to three, National would go to 43 per cent. So the centre right hasn't moved.

The only hope is for Act to grow by grabbing the right hand side of National's vote, while National go mining for disaffected Labour voters.
And to be honest that's where the gold is.

If the economy, the confidence and the worries we are wading through at the moment turns really sour, that's the centre right's pay day. That'll be what Seymour and co have their fingers crossed for.