Mega ambition may affect election result
Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom will launch a new political party on January 20, with one expert tipping it could help determine the makeup of the next government.
Mr Dotcom of Coatesville resigned from his director's position at his data hosting site, Mega, last year to focus on his extradition case and building a political party.
While Mr Dotcom can't stand for Parliament as he is not a New Zealand citizen, he can play a central role as party leader or president.
The United States is seeking to extradite Mr Dotcom to face charges of copyright conspiracy, racketeering and money-laundering allegedly carried out by his file-sharing company, Megaupload.
University of Otago political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards says the party has the potential to throw a spanner in the works of the election campaign, and could have a huge impact on who forms the next government.
"So far Dotcom has had an incredible influence on New Zealand politics, from the GCSB fracas to the legal trials of John Banks, which all suggest that we need to look at what a Dotcom party might represent, what it might aim to do, where its votes might come from and what effect it might have on coalition formations if the party got elected to Parliament," Mr Edwards says.
"Presumably the party's ethos will lean towards libertarian beliefs and his $50,000 donation to John Banks' Auckland mayoral campaign indicates a right-wing bent.
"While clearly aligned against John Key [whose Helensville electorate Mr Dotcom lives in] and National, it is difficult to imagine him warming to a Labour-Greens interventionist style government."
But Gareth Hughes of The Greens Party says they have issues in common.
"The new Kim Dotcom party will help make raise Internet freedom, Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and mass surveillance as big election issues. They are critical issues for New Zealand," he says.
He has until one month out from the election late this year to get the 500 members required and register a party.