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Small parties flex their political muscles

Nov 7th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

Small political parties may not seem hugely influential, but they claim their ideas have infiltrated the main parties.

A number of Family Party policies are appearing in the manifestos of existing parties in Parliament, which is a bonus, according to leader Richard Lewis (left).

“Removing GST off basic food groups and fuel [Maori Party] and repealing the Emissions Trading Scheme [Act] are some of the examples,” says Mr Lewis.

He also says the move to a universal student allowance touted by both Labour and the Greens had its origins with the Alliance. Raising the minimum wage has also been adopted by the Greens and the Maori parties.

The term Nanny State, which Libertarianz initiated, is now in mainstream use, the party’s Rongotai candidate Mitch Lees (right) says.

What about teaming up with Labour or National? The smallest parties on the political margins say the big parties’ policies are not attractive enough and they are happy with how MMP has empowered them.

Focused on individual freedoms, Libertarianz do not aim to get into government, Mr Lees says.

“Are you familiar with the other political parties? They are by and large a bunch of power-hungry, corrupt, ‘sell my grandmother for votes’ typical politicians.”

Democrats candidate Stephanie Deruyter (left) says: “Major parties have not demonstrated a willingness to consider alternatives which come from outside their traditional paradigms.”

Attempting to work from within would, Ms Deruyter says, be contrary to the spirit of MMP, which enables voters to assess many political options and choose which suit them best.

Daphna Whitmore (right) of the Workers Party agrees there is a need for alternative policies: “We want to create an anti-capitalist alternative, not prop up the old system.”

According to Kay Murray of Alliance, taking the attitude that only major parties matter would mean going back to a de facto First Past the Post system.

“Labour and National basically have no answers to the current global financial crisis,” she says. “In fact, their policies – which are the same policies adopted by many Western countries – in part helped create [the crisis].”

Continuing economic growth is unsustainable from a financial and environmental point of view, according to the Alliance.

“This will become abundantly clear in the next few years. Political parties that can offer alternatives, such as the Alliance, will be needed,” Ms Murray (left) says.

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