NZ Election 2020: Simon Bridges rejects right-wing call to vote Labour to shut out Greens

Simon Bridges says unlike some others on the right of politics, he won't be voting Labour in an attempt to stop the Greens being a part of the next Government. 

With Labour polling up around the 50 percent mark, New Zealand could soon have the first single-party Government of the MMP era. Since 1996, no party has ever been able to govern alone - always relying on the support of smaller parties.

In recent years that's been New Zealand First and the Greens for Labour, and ACT and the Maori Party for National. 

Bridges, who led National until being rolled earlier this year, said he hadn't considered betraying his own party to block a potential Labour-Greens coalition. 

"I'm a National MP - I don't go into the box and think a whole lot about what I'm going to tick," he told The AM Show on Friday.

On social media, some people claiming to have voted Labour in the past have said they'll be voting Green this time, fearing if the Greens don't reach the 5 percent threshold it could open the door for a National-ACT coalition. The Greens, currently polling between 6 and 7 percent, typically perform worse on election day than they do in polls. 

AM Show sportsreader Mark Richardson - a hardcore National Party supporter - has given up hope National will lead the next Government, and is considering voting Labour. 

"In the presence of Simon I'm ashamed to say I have entertained that thought. I personally just see the Greens as dangerous to this country, plain and simple." 

Greens co-leader James Shaw doesn't see it that way, saying in Thursday night's minor parties debate the "planet is running out of time" and needs the Greens' influence in power.

Bridges and Parker.
Bridges and Parker. Photo credit: The AM Show

It's also possible the Greens don't make it, and neither Labour alone nor the National-ACT camp have enough votes to form a Government. This is unlikely, but possible. If Labour got 44 percent, National 36, ACT 8, the Greens 4, and the other minor parties 8 percent between them - this results in Labour getting 60 seats, National 49 and ACT 11, according to the Electoral Commission's MMP calculator. Neither side has a majority. 

Richardson has an unlikely way to break the impasse.

"I could live under a Labour-ACT Government. I really could. I quite like the looks of that." 

While ACT began as an offshoot of Labour, these days they have little in common policy-wise. 

"I don't think that's going to happen," said AM Show newsreader Amanda Gillies. 

Labour MP David Parker, appearing on The AM Show with Bridges, said he's aiming for at least 50, possibly 60 percent of the vote. Asked what the party has done lately to deserve that kind of support, aside from wiping out COVID-19 twice, Parker said the "All Blacks are going to beat the Wallabies" before citing water quality and helping low-income families.

MMP was introduced in the 1990s after a string of elections where single-party governments were formed either without the backing of the electorate, or betrayed their promises once getting into power. The idea was having to compromise would slow down the rate of change, after a decade-and-a-half which saw the New Zealand economy turned upside-down.