In my post yesterday, I asked where the Internet Mana Party’s votes were going to come from? Is the party likely to attract those who have not previously voted, or will it simply take votes from the other parties on the left?
A lot depends on how Laila Harre positions the Internet Party. After all, let’s face it, Hone Harawira’s appeal is to a fairly select demographic – he’s joined forces with Kim Dotcom because he knows that the Mana brand is a tough sell outside of the Maori electorates; it was Dotcom’s money and celebrity that was being counted on to bring in the additional votes that would provide extra MPs.
So far at least, in her maiden speech as Internet Party leader, Ms Harre was more about social justice than internet rights. But will that help change the government? Despite being the wet dream of activists like Martyn Bradbury, Ms Harre surely holds little influence over the so-called “Missing Million”. She’s been a party leader before, 2002 – and her party at the time, the Alliance, got 1.27%. The left may respect her credentials, but she wasn’t exactly a ballot box drawcard in 2002. Twelve years later, has anything changed?
Many on the Left are praising her maiden speech’s focus on social justice, but is that actually going to increase the Left’s share of the vote? Will those who stayed home in 2008 and 2011 suddenly flock to the ballot box because a new social justice party has appeared? Ms Harre may be effective at snaring a chunk of Labour and the Greens’ vote, but that won’t threaten National if there’s simply a reallocation of Left bloc seats.
I doubt many who downloaded the Internet Party’s app and joined the party thought that they’d wind up being part of a new Alliance (as in Ms Harre’s old party, rather than a small-a alliance). Ms Harre therefore walks a fine line between satisfying those who see Mr Dotcom as some sort of fun anti-hero, and those who expect her to promote Marxist social justice policies.
Together, since the Internet Party first appeared in a major poll, the Internet and Mana parties have polled between a big flat zero and 2.5%. Together, they currently sit at combined 1.2% in this site’s Poll of Polls, just below the point where they might bring in a second MP. If they can get up around that 2.5% mark, and some of it comes from National or from those who haven’t previously considered voting, then National may be in trouble. Otherwise, Laila Harre, Annette Sykes and John Minto will simply be replacing Labour or Green MPs.