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Governing arrangements on hold while Peters ponders

Opinion Piece
Editorial

New Zealand politics enters something of a phony war this week as the country waits for coalition horse trading between the four parties in the House to really get under way.

With Winston Peters saying he will not comment until the final count is available next Saturday, the media are left to speculate on possible deals — so nothing has really changed since election night.

It seems hard to believe that the parties have not been in contact with each other on at least an unofficial basis.

One clear feeling that has emerged since the polls is that many people are frustrated a man whose party could only muster 7.5 percent of the total will have the outright ability to decide who forms a government.

That will always be possible in the MMP situation, as it is very difficult for a party to crack the 50 percent mark. And with 15 percent of the vote to be counted, it is very likely the make-up of the parties will change — with National expected to lose one or possibly two seats.

While Peters merrily makes his potential suitors and the media dance at the end of a string, there are some important issues for the puppet master in this situation.

Realistically this is his legacy and the keen racing man is in what his fellow punters call the last chance saloon. The next three years is probably his final opportunity to get some of his key platforms made into legislation.

Some commentators and a lot of social media discussion point to an alliance between National and the Greens being more acceptable than one involving Peters with either bloc.

In that sense it is interesting to read the comments of former Green MP and Gisborne resident, Catherine Delahunty, who says there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of that happening and that she would rather drink hemlock.

She makes a very good point with her claim that National is just using the possibility to strengthen its hand in negotiations with Peters.

In other words, classic horse trading. And there is a lot more of that to come.