Oct 28, 2008

The HYDRA Government will be the Beginning of the End of MMP: Message to the Maori Leaders

We have been e-mailed this contribution from our well known commentor - Mr Anonymous. As they add an interesting perspective we post in full. We would welcome comment:

A Clark/Winston Peters/Russel Norman/Jeanette Fitzsimmons/Anderton AXIS Hydra Govt would not only deepen the recession already in place, it would bring MMP down with it. Maori Party take note.

By far the most interesting result from last night's Leaders Debate featuring the minor parties was the immediate visceral reaction of New Zealanders - 75% voted for ending MMP. This is not a scientific poll but should be regarded as a leading indicator of the darkening public mood. If you put this 75% figure together with the recent poll result that showed 80% of New Zealanders think the convention should be respected whereby the largest single party lead an MMP Government and you can see that the minnority Clark-led Hydra Govt will mark the beginning of the end of MMP.

Clark is technically right in saying that under MMP all that matters is a minority of one vote on supply and confidence and that her Hydra Govt, particularly if Maori make a critical strategic error and allow it to happen, can rule NZ. But on a deeper level, she is profoundly wrong.
Any constitutional arrangement depends not only on its precise technical terms, but on convention. If she flouts (or is allowed to flout by reckless third parties) the convention that the largest Party must lead an MMP Govt, she will bring MMP down with her. Yes - it is a young constitutional convention that 80% of kiwis believe in - but sso too is MMP is a young constitution. The Hydra Govt will tear MMP out of its shallow and young roots.

All constitutional arrangments finally depend on legitimacy. The public decides legitimacy - not on the basis of fine academic arguments penned by Sir Geoffrey Palmer and left wing academics, but the realities of the political and economic market place. A Clark minority Hydra govt, going into a recession which may be deep, and with every Party having a say in running the country except the Party that most kiwis voted for would utterly destroy the legitimacy of MMP in the public mind.

It is tragically easy to forecast the broad plot - not the precise lines of the script - but the main event. A minority led AXIS HYDRA Govt would not be able to govern NZ, which is already in a recession which is about to deepen. Clark's old tricks - pull out a billion here, a billion there to patch over this minority party wishlist ($600m for Winston's MFAT bureaucrats, $1billion for the Green Party to use your money to retrofit other peoples' homes, nearly $2 billion to buy off the left wing of the Labour Party by the shameful decision to renationalise the railways) - none of that is going to be possible in the next three years. Well, perhaps not quite right: it is possible if all fiscal prudence (and Cullen) is thrown out of the window and Clark resorts to what all desperate rulers have resorted to - printing money via an ever expanding deficit. But business, both at home (and 'home' of business decisions these days is largely controlled by Melbourne and Sydney) and farther afield will not accept that. NZ would be seen not as a 'banana republic' - our historical reputation will save us from that - but as ungovernable given the odd choice of New Zealanders to introduce a system from Germany decided to stop any Government becoming strong enough to elect another Nazi Party.

The public mood, as these realities unfold and become clear to Kiwis, will darken dramatically. The public's anger will focus on two related matters: first, on MMP (which will be seen, and correctly so, as making NZ ungovernable, except where fair winds blow economically) and second, the public anger will focus on the political parties responsible for the Hydra Govt. That public mood will in due course deeply influence the National Party. They will harden up their position, in a mood not of disappointment but deep anger, as the economic and political situation worsens, on MMP. They will sweep into power with a huge landslide in 2011 or earlier - as a consequence of the beheading of the AXIS HYDRA Govt through some obscure Parliamentary event yet not possible to forecast. National would then have a mandate to end this ridiculous mistake. MMP will disappear into history.

The Labour Party will of course survive. But the minor parties which depend utterly on MMP for their place in Parliament will not. Interestingly, that need not include the Maori Party. They do not need MMP to survive. They need the Maori seats to survive. Provided National draws the conclusion that the Maori Party is now a politically independent Party, they can finally live with the Maori seats. But if Pita Sharples and Tariana make a critical error of judgement and side with the Hydra Govt, that distinction will be obliterated.

This will not be easy for the Maori Parliamentary Party leaders. But in their post-Election huis, they will have to dig deep into the greatest traditions of Maori leadership to explain this complex reality to their people or face long term oblivion, along with an MMP system they do not really need for their long-term survival.