Are “waka jumpers” necessary for minority representation in MMP?

MMP purportedly gives us a wider representation in the House than we had before - and that seems to be true. However, this increased variety has come on the backs of “waka jumpers” (MPs who have been elected as members of a political party and who have then resigned and formed a new party - or MPs who have switched allegiance to a different party from which they first elected).

Every party other than Labour or National has relied on a waka jumper to get itself established in the House.

  • Act - Richard Prebble formerly Labour
  • Greens - Jim Anderton from the Alliance days got the Greens in the House
  • Maori Party - Tariana Turia formerly Labour
  • New Zealand First - Winston Peters formerly National
  • Progressive Party - Jim Anderton formerly Labour
  • United Future - Peter Dunne formerly Labour

Act and the Greens have managed to continue without their original waka jumper.

The lesson: if you want to start an effective political party presence in NZ join a major party first and build your credibility with your electorate and then jump and reveal your intentions.

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