Mana cites youth vote for link-up

Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira
Odd political bedfellows Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom sealed the deal between their Mana and Internet parties prompting the departure of Mana veteran activist Sue Bradford and fuelling speculation over what the arrangement means for this year's election.

After weeks of negotiations Mana leader and sole MP Mr Harawira and Internet Party chief executive Vikram Kumar confirmed the deal yesterday which will see the two parties contest the election with a joint party list as Internet Mana but campaign under their own names in electorates.

The deal relies on Mr Harawira retaining his Te Tai Tokerau seat which would see the Internet Party coat-tail at least one MP into Parliament assuming the joint entity captures 1.2 per cent or more of the party vote.

Mana is set to gain additional campaign resources including money courtesy of the deep-pocketed Mr Dotcom and to benefit from his internet savvy to attract new voters.

"What we've done is capture the move of our younger people to an internet future and we wanted to make sure we were part of that future and one of the ways to do that was to buddy up to an organisation that already understands that world," Mr Harawira said.

Ms Bradford, who had threatened to leave if the deal went ahead, said she tendered her resignation as soon as she saw Mana' press release confirming it.

"Sucking up to a German millionaire is not my vision of the future and I think Mana has made a big mistake ... in the long run, it's lost what I joined it for which was that sense of integrity."

But Mr Harawira said polls he'd seen "actually suggest that Mana members are entirely favourable with it".

The next step for the joint party is the announcement of the Internet Party's leader tomorrow in Auckland.

Mr Harawira said once it became clear who was in the frame for the job, "it made it easier for us to continue the negotiations".

Labour leader David Cunliffe said his party, "will be interested to see how that romance works out over time".

With the joint party seeking support from young disengaged voters rather than cannibalising the vote on the left, the Herald understands Labour has given some thought to pulling its punches in Te Tai Tokerau to give the alliance a better chance of bringing in additional left-block MPs. But Mr Cunliffe said Labour's Te Tai Tokerau candidate, Kelvin Davis, would be running hard to win the seat.

Maori Party president Rangimarie Naida Glavish said Labour "owes it to Maori voters to clarify" whether it would advise its supporters in Te Tai Tokerau to switch their electorate votes from Mr Davis to Mr Harawira.

Prime Minister John Key said the alliance was about Mr Dotcom putting money behind a political party in a bid to block his extradition to the US.

"I find that pretty odd but if people want to vote for that, they are welcome to do it, but in the end everybody knows that if you vote that way, you are voting for a left-wing party."

Mr Harawira said Mr Dotcom's looming extradition hearing and whether Mana would support his efforts to remain in New Zealand had "not even come up once" during discussions over the past few weeks.


How it works

Mana and the Internet parties will run a joint list vote campaign but have independent electorate campaigns under their own names.

Any electorate seats won by either party will count against the total the joint entity would be entitled to on the basis of its party vote.


- By Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald

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