Minor parties plan to keep going after failing to make it into Parliament

Author
Bernard Orsman, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 18 Oct 2020, 5:27PM
Advance NZ leader Billy Te Kahika. Photo / Tania Whyte
Advance NZ leader Billy Te Kahika. Photo / Tania Whyte

Minor parties plan to keep going after failing to make it into Parliament

Author
Bernard Orsman, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 18 Oct 2020, 5:27PM

The New Conservatives and The Opportunities Party (TOP) say they are not dead and buried after failing to get elected to Parliament.

The two parties were the most successful of 11 minor parties that trailed NZ First, which got booted out of Parliament after failing to reach the 5 per cent party threshold or win a seat.

The New Conservatives were on 1.5 per cent after the preliminary count and TOP on 1.4 per cent.

The other nine minor parties were all below 1 per cent in the polls, with Advance NZ on 0.9 per cent with 20,841 votes and HeartlandNZ finishing bottom after receiving just 1293 party votes, or 0.1 per cent.

New Conservative leader Leighton Baker admitted earlier this week that his party had struggled to reach a national audience. It's 1.5 per cent of the vote was an improvement on its 2017 result but not enough to get into power.

"It is a big hurdle. The reality is you can do as much as you like on social media but there's only a certain amount of people on there."

Baker, a businessman who stood in the Waimakariri seat, was particularly disappointed in its exclusion from the television multi-party debate because of its low polling - a decision which it unsuccessfully challenged in court.

The party ran on a platform of traditional family values, longer sentences for violent crimes, introducing trades training for Year 9s, and scrapping the Emissions Trading Scheme.

New Conservative Party leader Leighton Baker. Photo / Alex Burton

New Conservative Party leader Leighton Baker. Photo / Alex Burton

Baker conceded that the entry of Advance NZ into the election contest probably damaged New Conservative as the two parties were campaigning on similar issues, in particular what they saw as an erosion of democracy during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Act Party's surge in popularity also damaged New Conservative's prospects.

Baker said his party would not be deterred by its latest defeat, and would compete again in 2023, saying the party had rebuilt from the Colin Craig era, which ended in controversy when the former founder, leader and backer resigned over allegations of sexual harassment.

Baker intends to stay on as leader.

TOP leader Geoff Simmons and deputy leader Shai Navot emailed members, supporters and donors today, saying they were immensely proud of the campaign, but also gutted.

"This wasn't the result we worked so hard for. We will keep fighting for a voice in Parliament because we believe TOP

can play a role in solving our biggest challenges.

"TOP's voice will be even more important for our democracy and our society over the next three years. We will keep holding power to account," the party leadership said.

The Opportunities Party leader Geoff Simmons. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Opportunities Party leader Geoff Simmons. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Political commentator Ben Thomas said talk of the minor parties getting together to form a block to replace NZ First was unlikely.

He said parties like the New Conservatives and Billy Te Kahika's Advance NZ Party had similarities on things like Covid and lockdowns, but said Advance NZ is not a religiously framed party whereas the New Conservatives and ONE Party are Christian-based.

"What I think you will see is more churn in terms of these vehicles disappearing and new ones popping up under new leaders with new backers who might have a better chance of consolidating that anti-establishment vote," he said.

Thomas said while Winston Peters and NZ First was a clarion call for the disaffected they did have a parliamentary leader with real political pedigree which most of the start-ups lack.

How the minor parties did

Votes % of votes

New Conservative 35,954 1.5

The Opportunities Party 33,718 1.4

Advance NZ 20,841 0.9

Aotea Legalise Cannabis 7637 0.3

ONE Party 6470 0.3

Vision New Zealand 2775 0.1

NZ Outdoors Party 2593 0.1

TEA Party 1869 0.1

Sustainable NZ Party 1467 0.1

Social Credit 1350 0.1

HeartlandNZ 1293 0.1

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