New Zealand Opposition Rules Out Post-Election Deal With Peters

Matthew Brockett

(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand’s main opposition political party has ruled out working with the party of Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters after the 2020 election, a risky move that could make it harder for either of them to form the next government.

National Party leader Simon Bridges said yesterday he couldn’t trust Peters, whose small New Zealand First party often plays kingmaker under New Zealand’s German-style electoral system. New Zealand First and the Green Party currently form a government with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party.

“A vote for NZ First is a vote for Labour and the Greens,” Bridges said in a statement. “When National was negotiating in good faith with NZ First after the last election, its leader was suing key National MPs and staff. I don’t trust NZ First and I don’t believe New Zealanders can either.”

The move may weaken New Zealand First because Peters will no longer be able to say he could go into coalition with either National or Labour, a strategy that garners votes from both sides of the political spectrum and has given him significant bargaining power in the past. But it also means National will have to come close to winning an outright majority, as it now has only the tiny ACT party as a potential partner.

The National Party had 46% support in a Colmar Brunton poll late last year, ahead of Labour on 39%. New Zealand First was on 4% and the Greens had 7%. Parties must win 5% of the vote or an electorate seat to get into parliament. The election will be held on Sept. 19.

Peters, who sued some National Party lawmakers over alleged leaks of personal information during the 2017 election campaign, said he was unfazed by Bridges’ announcement.

“He’s got a lot to learn about politics,” Peters said. “Narrowing your options can be the worst strategic move you will ever make. There’ll come a time soon when he’ll want to see me much more than I want to see him.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Brockett in Wellington at mbrockett1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew Brockett at mbrockett1@bloomberg.net, Tracy Withers

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