By Peter Wilson, via Stuff.co.nz:
When Helen Clark said her aim was to construct a “stable and durable” government, she meant it. [...] And if serious problems arise, she has something that wasn’t there in the 1996 coalition with which this one is sometimes compared – a back-up party she can count on in a crisis. Comparisons with the National/New Zealand First coalition, which fell apart in spectacular fashion, are flawed in several respects.
This time, the NZ First caucus is nothing like it was then. There are six, excluding Peters, and if its MPs rock the boat they are the ones most likely to drown.
The other support party, United Future, has a total of three MPs. Peter Dunne has his ministerial post and won’t be in a mood to lose it.
If he pulled his party out of the support agreement, that would almost certainly mean the end of it in 2008 – and there would be no electorate seat to keep it alive.
And in the unlikely worst-case scenario of his six MPs bailing out, refusing to vote or in some other way threatening the Government’s majority, the Greens are on the bench.
Poorly dealt to as they were, the Greens won’t forsake the Government and risk National taking over.
Exactly how the Government will work is going to be a fascinating exercise. In practical terms, there is no good reason why it won’t.