This morning's Herald poll differs a little from the weekend's Sunday Star-Times-BRC poll, but both show Winston First clearly above the 5% threshold. I'm not a Winston fan, but this is surely due reward for being a proper opposition party leader - the only one for instance who's been supporting the Berrymans in parliament instead of making irrelevant hay over a silly interview. I commented on the lack of real opposition here a few weeks ago - looks like more than a few voters feel the same way.
Winston's not talking coalitions this election, whatever the polls say. At least, not yet. Asked if he believed his party could again hold the balance of power, he said: "We don’t use that phrase. We’ve moved on from there." And well he might, he's been burned before - and so have we. And so have the major parties; both are likely to look somewhat askance at doing a deal with parliament's devil.
And in any case, every coalition party in the MMP era has either been burnt by being too close to power (think Alliance), or is simply irrelevant (think Progressive). Which raises the question: How exactly should a minor party act when confronted by holding the balance of power? If they're principled and in favour of more freedom and less government, then they have no problem: they can simply say "We will support every measure that advances freedom without introducing any new coercion." And then they would do so. Such support would be reliable (as long as freedom is advanced) and consistent. Such a policy is that followed by the Costa Rican libertarian party Movimiento Libertario, who hold 5 of Costa Rica's 57 Congressional seats, and it's worked fine for them.
I explain here how the studious application of this principle would suggest that killing the entire front bench of Government in their beds would be unprincipled; and here (scroll down to 'We'll get our fair share of abuse') how this principle would rule out support for a flat tax, for educational vouchers, and for state welfare being a 'hand-up and not a hand-out.'