Key to hammer first nail in Nat-Maori coffin

by Jake Quinn

NZPA reports this morning:

Cabinet is set to make a decision about Maori seats on a new Auckland super city today – likely ruling them out and averting a ministerial resignation… A decision to rule out Maori seats would mean Mr Hide would not have to fulfil a promise made last week to resign over the issue.

Putting to one side the incredible level of spin in the above paragraph, for that is worth another post entirely.  It is likely that should Key say no to the seats, that this decision is not based on Hide’s resignation threat, but on clear polling data from Pakeha Auckland voters that they have no appetite for them.  If that is the case, Hide’s little stunt will work out well as ‘an excuse’ for Key’s decision.

It will however have other consequences.  It would be the first nail in the coffin of the National-Maori Party governing arrangement.  The Maori Party has, as of yet, chosen to play the long game adopting not to sink to Hide’s level.  Good on them.  National would be wise to do similarly.

The sustainability of future National-led minority governments is linked to their relationship with the Maori Party.  The Maori Party are likely to become the de facto kingmaker in many future governments and while National currently has the unusual pleasure of choosing its partner on a case by case basis (they can turn to either Act or the Maori Party to command a legislative majority – that is, they don’t need both), this will not always be the case.

After the next election it is likely that National will be in a position to form a government.  It is also possible that the right (National and Act) will get less total vote share than they did in 2008.  If this happens National will need the Maori Party (or some other centre party) to get the numbers on confidence and supply.  But will their bridges be burned?

Labour needs to do some serious work on its relationship with the Maori Party.  Perhaps the silver lining, should Key today adopt for no Maori seats, is that Labour and the Maori Party will have an issue which can unite them.

Update: from stuff:

Cabinet has ruled out dedicated Maori seats on the new Auckland super city.  Prime Minister John Key said ministers had given consideration to the issue, but decided against it.

Looks like I was wrong, I overestimated John Key and I really am quite disappointed.  I was thinking he might be different.