Election 2023: Pundit says it would be 'madness' for National to rule out New Zealand First, Winston Peters

National can't afford to rule out New Zealand First and Winston Peters before the election, according to a prominent political commentator.

It comes as a new poll released on Wednesday had NZ First on 5.3 percent - the first sampling to have the party above the 5 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament. 

National leader Christopher Luxon has not ruled out working with the veteran NZ First leader Peters, who was deputy Prime Minister in the last Labour Coalition Government. But David Seymour, the leader of the ACT Party - which National would likely need to form a Government based on recent polling - has said he wouldn't work with Peters

Speaking to AM Early on Thursday, Victoria University political scientist Bryce Edwards said it was in Luxon's best interests to "say nothing" about NZ First for the time being.

"It would be madness to rule out New Zealand First at this stage," Edwards said.

"On the basis of this most recent poll out yesterday, National could govern just with ACT and don't need New Zealand First - but that's just one poll and there's a good chance that they still will need New Zealand First."   

Edwards said Seymour could come to regret ruling out NZ First.

"There are all sorts of options; you could have a National Government supported by New Zealand First and ACT on the cross-benches, or with New Zealand First in Cabinet and ACT not.

"In the end, politicians like David Seymour often say these things - that they won't work with them or they can't. In the end, they often do so I wouldn't take Seymour too much at face value on that." 

Bryce Edwards.
Bryce Edwards. Photo credit: Newshub.

Seymour, last Thursday, said NZ First was "proposing to be the solution to the problem that they themselves created" by choosing to form a coalition with Labour in 2020.

"Would we work with them? No, we wouldn't - our goal is to maximise the party vote for ACT so that ACT and National, together, can join hands around the Cabinet table and start carrying out frankly a rescue job that is going to be required after the damage done by the current Government," he told RNZ's Checkpoint.

"I don't think anyone's going to seriously believe that having New Zealand First - giving them another chance after all the others they've had - is in New Zealand's best interests right now."

He said it was up to National whether it wanted to rule NZ First in or out before the election.

"I don't express preferences for their behaviour."

Luxon said last month he was only focused on how his own party was tracking - not NZ First.

"We're not doing any electoral deals with any political party."

Luxon said NZ First wasn't currently in Parliament so any questions about a potential coalition were "really hypothetical". 

"For us, our focus is on maximising the party vote for National and focusing on the things that matter most to New Zealanders."