You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Internet mogul Kim Dotcom claims he has signed up one sitting MP to join his new party before the election and is talking to three more - a poaching raid unprecedented in New Zealand politics.
He refuses to disclose the identity of the MP, saying it will be revealed once the Internet Party is registered and has chosen all its candidates, probably in June.
His revelation came in an exclusive interview with the Herald on Sunday yesterday.
Dotcom said he was also in talks with Mana Party leader Hone Harawira to unite their two parties under one umbrella, enabling the Internet Party to ride into Parliament on the coat-tails of the Te Tai Tokerau electorate MP.
The two leaders and their party bosses, Vikram Kumar and Gerard Hehir, met on February 28 at a house on Auckland's North Shore.
The Mana Party executive will this week consider a merger proposal. Mana would bring one or two electorates, the Internet Party would bring a more broadly-based party vote and $1 million-plus in campaign funding.
Dotcom's confidence about securing an electorate from a sitting MP could dramatically change the election campaign.
If the Internet Party has a guaranteed seat, every party vote he wins will count towards more MPs.
"The Mana Party is one of several parties we are talking to, to form an alliance," Dotcom revealed.
"We are also talking to a number of MPs that have won electorates and are likely to win electorates again. Our goal is to put together a good alliance to make sure this agenda we have gets into Parliament.
"I can tell you right now that we will certainly have one MP with an electorate in the Internet Party."
The Internet Party plans to launch membership phone and web apps this week and hopes to have the 500 members required to register the party within a day.
Dotcom says he could work with any party, including National, but John Key's attitude is the problem.
"When the prime minister says that we are the no hope party, that we are a political joke, and I'm an idiot - it makes it difficult to work with someone like that. But maybe at some point there will be a different tone, who knows.
"We're talking to everybody. I've met MPs from National, I've met MPs from Labour, I've met MPs from the Greens. I'm on the hunt here to find people that are interested in getting our policies into reality, and there are a number of people that are interested in that ... I'm on an active hunt to find candidates who come with an electorate seat."
"It is our goal to be in a position where the Internet Party picks the next government, and if that happens it is highly likely that a large number of our policies will make it into reality.
"That's our primary goal, and we'll announce our policies in a couple of days."
The Herald on Sunday spoke yesterday to representatives and MPs from all eight parties in Parliament, and to independent MP Brendan Horan. Only the Mana Party admitted having talked to Dotcom about an electoral accommodation.
The Mana Party expects to hold Te Tai Tokerau, and hopes also to topple Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell in Waiariki - which could leave John Key without the Maori Party as a coalition partner.
- Jonathan Milne of the Herald on Sunday