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Kim Dotcom party forms alliance to contest NZ election

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[May 27, 2014]  WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The New Zealand political party founded by alleged copyright pirate Kim Dotcom has formed an alliance with another small party in a bid to win a seat in the country's general election in September.

Dotcom's Internet Party and the leftist, indigenous Mana Party, which already has a member in the country's parliament, will form a new party - Internet Mana - and put up a combined list of candidates in the election.

Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, was said to have brokered deal but will not hold any position in the Internet Party. He has the right to vote in New Zealand but cannot stand for election until he becomes a citizen.

The ebullient internet mogul has been fighting a bid by U.S. authorities to extradite him from New Zealand to face online piracy charges over the now closed file-sharing site Megaupload.

Internet Party chief executive Vikram Kumar said the two parties would retain their separate policies, with the Internet Party aiming at young voters with policies of cheaper Internet, the creation of high-tech jobs, and the protection of privacy.

The Mana Party's current member of parliament holds one of seven seats reserved for the indigenous Maori people and has pursued policies to help the underprivileged, attracting support from some non-Maori left wing activists.

Under New Zealand's proportional voting system, a party must win either an electorate seat or at least 5 percent of the nationwide vote to get into the 120-seat parliament.

However, the 5 percent barrier would not apply if the current Mana Party member of parliament was re-elected, with further members being elected in his slipstream depending on the party's final share of the vote.

A Reuters survey of six polls shows the center-right National Party, which has been in power since 2008, with 49.2 percent support against the main opposition center-left Labour Party, which has 31.8 percent.

(Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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