The Green Party has virtually led the opposition this term. It looks the best organised party apart from National, and it appears to be well funded. Green leadership looks secure and sound.
Greens are overdue for being in government and are ambitious to finally get a share of real power.
But they have a major problem, not of their own doing but a serious impediment to Greens achieving what they want. Labour have seemed an essential part of Green plans but David Cunliffe look like a dead leader walking.
Apart from a weak Labour making a left wing Government look increasingly unlikely the Greens are also hurt by Labour being weak – many voters are sympathetic to some Green input but are wary of too much Green say and too may Green policy. People are uncertain about what a Green dominated coalition might do.
Greens could just resign themselves to being reliant on a Labour recovery and wait. And possibly wait and wait.
But Greens have proven to be smart and also willing to read the political wind and adapt. Green leadership seems well aware of the political need for pragmatism and compromise if a party is to make progress.
They attempted to initiated a campaign partnership with Labour but were rejected.
Will they consider the ultimate in political pragmatism – a coalition with National?
Currently the Green position on working with National is something like “very very unlikely”. But that was determined when Labour+Green looked an electoral possibility. Labour have moved this towards “very very unlikely” and don’t look like changing direction.
They will surely be reassessing this. It’s known that Green activists are not keen on working with National but political pragmatism – and the fear if another three years in the opposition wilderness not knowing if even then Labour will get their act together – must be tempting some in the Green Party to go for a bit of something rather than a lot of nothing.
There would be a number of benefits for Greens going into coalition with National. They would be in a better position to promote some of their policies. They would get some experience at operating in Government and some of their MPs would get experience in ministerial positions.
Their lack of Government experience and their numbers relative to National – something like 55-15 – would mean they wouldn’t be able to claim major roles but they would gain valuable experience and would achieve far more than they could alongside Labour in opposition.
They could prove they can be responsible on Government. This would enhance their chances in 2017.
What about Greens as ministers? Alongside National they would have to accept minor rolls, but this would help easy then into the next level.
Russel Norman with an associate finance role and Metiria Turei in an associate social role – or even Minister of the Environment – would look fine. And Kevin Hague would slot easily into an associate health role.
National would gain from this arrangement as well. They’ve worked successfully on policy with Greens before with insulation schemes, and some more environmental and sustainable influence would be positive.
And it could be easier and safer to work with the principled Greens than Winston Peters or the unknown quantity of Colin Craig.
The country would benefit too from a stable governing arrangement, more social and environmental influence. And once Greens eventually get to be a part of a left leaning government they will be far better experienced.
How would voters see this? I think in the main they would see it as a positive. Swing voters may be far for willing to support Greens if they saw they would be moderated by senior National influence compared to Greens alongside a weak Labour, where voters have some worries about how Green it would be.
Prior to the last election 3 News Reid research polled on a National-Green mix.
We asked voters that if John Key opened the door to a formal coalition deal with the Greens – should the Greens say yes.
- 55 percent said yes
- 30 percent said no
Many of those saying no are likely to be Labour supporters who wouldn’t like to be cut out of any deal.
Amongst Green voters:
- 60 percent said yes
- 27 percent no
Amongst National voters:
- 63 percent said yes
- 25 percent said no
With the current state of the parties, especially Labour’s weakness and fears of the possibility of Labour+Green+NZ First+Internet+MANA or even of National+NZ First then a National-Green alliance may seem even more attractive and less scary to voters.
If John Key saw benefits for National and for the country he should support working with Greens.
Some of the more idealistic in Greens may take more convincing, but the key to successful politics is finding ways of achieving something. Intransigent idealists tend to be impotent. There is far more power in pragmatism.
One of the biggest limiters on Greens increasing their vote is a fear of them having too much influence with their more extreme policies.
National is well supported in the polls but voters are very unlikely to want them to rule with a majority on their own.
Voters may see Greens alongside a much larger National as a much safer bet than most of the current alternatives and they would probably pick up votes that are disillusioned with Labour.
To me National+Green seems to be by far the safest and most sensible choice for the country this year.
Both parties would need to signal there willingness to work together clearly prior to the election. It would likely help both their chances.