Key squashes speculation
So, the "dirty deals" have been done, relatively dirt cheap, and it looks like it may be bye-bye to Colin Craig's chances of being an MP this year.
At a stroke Prime Minister John Key has assured ACT and United Future will live another day - and may also have given their basement-level polling a boost - by virtually guaranteeing them the seats of Epsom and Ohariu.
Voters leaning towards the two small parties can now vote for them confident that their vote will not be wasted.
But at the same time he has struck a major blow to the Conservative party's fortunes with his refusal to do an electorate deal with its leader, Craig, and, perhaps more importantly, his refusal to even contemplate reversing that stance.
It is now up to Craig and his millions to get over the 5 per cent party vote threshold,
That is something Craig has confidently and consistently said he will achieve, though the polls have begged to differ.
And, unlike ACT and Dunne's voters, anyone contemplating a vote for the Conservatives must now weigh the strong possibility their vote will be wasted.
Key deserves credit for dispensing with the silly "cup of tea’’ symbolism of previous years and making a clear statement.
It is no longer an implied "we are comfortable if our supporters vote for x or y."
His words were "we will encourage" National voters to tick David Seymour in Epsom, Peter Dunne in Ohariu and the Maori Party candidates in the seven Maori electorates.
Key's signal has taken a huge amount of uncertainty - and screeds of commentators' speculation - out of the upcoming election campaign.
Policy debate anyone?