Delighted Conservative leader thinking about 2014
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is unconcerned that his efforts may have been a factor in the centre-right's thin majority in Parliament.
The 55,000 party list votes gained by the Conservatives were the fifth best of the election and equate to 2.8 per cent of the total. But without an electorate seat, MMP rules mean the Conservatives failed to gain an MP.
On provisional results, National has 60 seats out of a total of 121, and its support parties ACT and United Future have one each, taking the National-led Government's total to 62.
National is hoping to gain the support of the Maori Party with its three seats, but could lose a seat after the counting of special votes.
Craig is certain - looking at the Conservative Party's membership - that the party "pulled a good chunk out of ACT", and also got some votes across from National.
While ACT has an electorate seat because of John Banks' win in Epsom, with only 1.1 per cent of the party vote it has nothing else. Had ACT held on to some of those voters who appear to have gone to the Conservatives it could have gained at least one list MP, and possibly more.
Craig, a businessman, describes the Conservatives as socially and fiscally conservative and "very big on innovation".
Despite that he had no qualms about the party's impact on the centre-right vote.
"We're not here to have cups of tea or make arrangements," Craig said.
"However the equation worked out, that was how it was going to be. There was nothing strategic in our approach."
The Conservative campaign, which cost him personally around $1 million, had given the party a fantastic start.
The party had about 2000 members, and had boxes of unprocessed membership forms because it had not been possible to keep up. He estimated total membership could be somewhere near 3000.
The new party could now focus on putting in place an organisation to prepare for the next election, Craig said.
He believed the Conservative Party would be attractive to members of other minor parties whose leadership was ageing.
"While our fiscal conservatism probably appeals more to ACT or United Future, our social conservatism probably appeals more to New Zealand First voters," Craig said.
He is also not ruling out the possibility of another bid for the Auckland mayoralty.
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