Pagani on minor party deals

John Pagani, in his Stuff column talks over why minor parties do deals:

“Nothing.” That’s how Tariana Turia frankly answered when she was asked what the Maori Party would get out of going into Opposition.

It was never likely her party would change its relationship with National, despite losing two of the five seats it won three years ago. The party campaigned on the basis of the progress it is making from its involvement in the National-led Government.

Coexistence in government isn’t easy for a small party. But parties exist to make a difference. If you want easy, stay home.

Every small party that has gone into government with a larger one under MMP has been damaged at the following election, losing votes and seats.

Smaller parties see themselves as uncompromising alternatives to the major ones. Once they have to enter a government, high expectations can’t be met, so disillusionment sets in.

They get blamed for unpopular policies, while the major party takes credit for their popular successes.

Activists wonder what the point of supporting a small party was, when the large party consumes their efforts. They drift away, and media ignore them unless something goes wrong.

You only need to look tot he Greens to find out how ineffectual life is in perpetual opposition. One day the Green party will wake up cut a deal.

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