With ACT offering little but Epsom, really a National seat, and little if anything in terms of additional List MPs from their Party Vote I would think it time for National to reassert its ownership and stop lending the membership and voters of Epsom to ACT and see where the cards fall 2014. The big Q. for National is, do they want to keep ACT around long term as a possible future ally (ie Epsom on intravenous life support) or look elsewhere. It’s time to turn off the machine. Who are ACT voters going to vote for other than National anyway? Allow the Nat. pigeons to fly home and reconsolidate the home roost.
ACT’s main problem, like UF, is its brand is not distinct enough to justify a party, unlike Greens or Maori. “More National than National” is not strong enough to justify a party vote. ACT have only survived, like NZF, as a reaction party in the first six MMP elections. Now that things have settled a bit, small parties have to justify their raison detre more to the public, by actually representing something they can vote for, not just strategic coalition schinanigans.
Above: the ACT leaders:
- Roger Douglas (1994–1996)
- Richard Prebble (1996–2004)
- Rodney Hide (2004–2011)
- Don Brash (2011)
- John Banks (2012- )
NZFirst has been much more successful than ACT (50 seats to 34 over the same elections) partly because it has had stabilised leadership (1 vs 5 leaders) and NZF’s appeal to a percentage of the Maori vote (winning all Maori seats in 1996). But it also indicates that NZF’s reactionary anti-immigration and disaffected National niche has more legs than ACTs rather bland market-economy politics.