Greens fail MMP basics

In some respects the green party has been very successful under MMP – they have gradually grown their vote to over 10%, safe from the threshold, and they now have 14 MPs in Parliament.

They launched their list this week with great media fanfare and self congratulation – it looks like a good list overall, with some interesting newcomers.

But so Greens have failed a fundamental of MMP – getting into Government and implementing policies. They have influenced some things but not a lot that they can claim as major successes.

Limiting themselves to one pathway to power they have significantly hobbled their bargaining power and only have a 50/50-ish chance of getting into government – dependant on how Labour do, and probably on what NZ First do, and the latter has so far been very unhelpful for Green aspirations.

Duncan Garner puts it bluntly: The rub of the Greens: The party that’s become Labour’s little play thing

So what really happened this week? Nothing much. The Greens released their party list. Normally it’s a complete bore. But the Greens are media darlings. And this was like a beauty contest.

No-one asks any hard questions because the Greens have never made any tough decisions or been responsible for anything.

Jubilant photos of the Green-grinners on happy pills were plastered across sexy social media sites and the traditional media websites, too.

Shock horror: They have young people, white people, an older grey guy they referred to as the ‘eye-candy’, a Maori and wow-wee, a real-life refugee who just happens to be a rock-star lawyer with looks. So they got our attention.

But – and here’s the big but – are they any closer to government? Nope. Not that you’d know that from this week.

The Greens’ chances of being in power still rely on Labour. Bugger that, but that’s the rough path they have chosen.

They have fully hitched their wagon to a struggling Labour locomotive.

The Greens have tied themselves to Labour this election, so they rely on the success of a floundering party as well as their own success.

No matter how much Maoriness and femaleness and youngness and environmentness and democracyness and niceness the Greens have they have pretty much handed their fate over to Labour and Andrew Little.

If Labour gets in a position to govern then the Greens might have some influence.

And that is a big might, especially if NZ First are in the mix.

If they don’t, then the Greens are once again assigned to the oblivion benches again.

Yes, they’re a strong voice in opposition but surely they want to be in power one day – don’t they? But they’ve chosen to work only with Labour.

This is a major flaw in Greens under MMP. Too much arrogance and idealism.

A fundamental of politics and democracy is to achieve as much as you can with whoever has the power. Getting stuck with idealism and principles on the sideline is failure.

Apparently, National is evil, too Right-wing, doesn’t care about the environment, has made our rivers dirty and the list goes on. But I wonder what life would be like if they hadn’t thrown their lot in with just Labour.

What would a Blue-Green government look like? Imagine if the Greens had left the door open to prop up either of the big parties in office? Is Labour really that economically different from National?

Why couldn’t the Greens have been truly independent and said we’ll keep both the bastards honest and just fight for our principles and influence in any government we can be part of?

Because the majority of the Green membership is against MMP 101 – working as closely as possible with the government of the day. And at least half of their current leadership appears to be committed to shunning National, and therefore influence.

When the Labour-Green memorandum of understanding to work together came out, Jesus wept and so did the centre-Left. Labour and Green voters went all weak at the knees.

They closed off their options and became Labour’s little play thing.

Between Labour and the Greens, both parties have just over 40 per cent of the vote. That’s called opposition.

They need to grow their vote – not cannibalise the vote from each other.

It looks like they are competing for many of the same votes. Left wing votes. Socialism votes. Greens are targeting Maori votes, something Labour seem to think are theirs as of right. Generally if one of the two goes up in the polls, the other goes down. In the latest Listener poll Greens are up to 16% but Labour is down to 25%.

They can target young voters with cool young candidates but historically these young ones haven’t gone to the polls.

Another failure under MMP so far. Last election both Labour and the Greens targeted the ‘missing million’ via major campaigns (run by proxies), and came up short.

I would love to see solutions for dirty rivers, climate change, child poverty and sustainable Green solutions for housing and transport. They are now modern ideas not silly ideas from 1970s hippies.

Yet the Greens are stuck in the past strategically by limiting who they will work with. I for one would love them to stand solo and work with all-comers.

And imagine this message from Bill English; Sorry Winston, we’re going with the Greens. This year I promise you won’t hear that.

Metiria Turei and a majority of Green party members won’t play the party field. They will be left on the sidelines while Peters does that with most of the negotiating power.

If the Greens are lucky they will get something allowed to them by Labour and NZ First.

Because they have put themselves staunchly in a position of weakness.

And that weakness is worse than just in post-election negotiations.

Because the Green position is weak, and because they have tied themselves to Labour, and because Labour is also weak, voters may well thumb their noses at both parties this election.

On current polls and party positions it looks that, at best, the fate of Greens (and Labour) could be in Winston’s hands, and that may only be if National do poorly.


  1. Brown

     /  June 3, 2017

    The NZ Greens are terrified of getting into power because that would require them to actually do something and be accountable other than ponce about being self righteous and self indulgent little Marxists. The problem with MMP is that it allows room, at great expense, for non contributing fringe dwellers like these, shouting slogans, preaching nonsense and promising what cannot be delivered. I’m happy for the Greens to exist in all their mediocrity but darned annoyed that I am expected to pay for them.

    • Gezza

       /  June 3, 2017

      For Chrissake Brown. You’re always whingeing about something.

      • Gezza

         /  June 3, 2017

        What – it would kill you to spread a little joy every once in a while❓😳

    • Gezza

       /  June 3, 2017

      I have to say though, that I think there’s a place for the Green Party, but PG’s post is right on the money. There is no reason I can think of that they can’t be saying they’re open to working with all parties, & they showed they can do it with supporting National’s budget social spending Bills. They owe Labour nothing.

      • I’ve always supported the Greens being there, I just think they are not optimising their established presence in Parliament, which is a shame.

  2. Conspiratoor

     /  June 3, 2017

    The greatest polilitical predictor in the history of the world ponders the surge in investor confidence following trumps decision, and offers up a hypothesis. As per he’s right on the money…

    “And so I give you this hypothesis: There is social pressure to say you side with the majority of climate scientists. To do otherwise would make many people feel like ignoramuses. So they craft their personalities around a belief in climate change doom because they are people who respect science. It fits their identity preference.

    Until you ask them to invest their money.

    Then people bet against it”

    • Conspiratoor

       /  June 3, 2017

      Oh dear, right comment to wrong post. Oh well, the water tanks are full

      • Gezza

         /  June 3, 2017

        What should I make of the fact so many citizens say global warming is an existential danger while the people who have money are (apparently) betting against it? How does that make sense?

        The rapacious bastards have obviously all got shares in dirty coal & other nefarious climate wrecking businesses that they can cream now, c. 😠 Pruitt has got to go. He’s confused poor Trumpy. This won’t end well. 😢

        PS: I bet Sean would have put this comment under the right post.

        • Conspiratoor

           /  June 3, 2017

          So what you’re saying G, is that I make Sean look like an Einstein. I’m hurt…

          • Gezza

             /  June 3, 2017

            No, not at all. No offence intended. I’m sure you just got a bit over-excited & eager to share Scott’s latest pearls of wisdom. These things happen when blog masters are banging out lots of attention-grabbing posts. Sean just knows how to stay focussed, is all I’m saying.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  June 3, 2017

              I’m working on a hunch that Sean’s been fired and trumps distanced himself. Unfortunately this news hasn’t yet filtered down to sean

            • Conspiratoor

               /  June 3, 2017

              …or he knows but he’s asked to stay on to torment the media because he’s having so much fun channeling the big guy and making shit up. When Sean writes his book about his 15 minutes in Trump’s inner sanctum it is going to be an absolute rip snorter

            • Gezza

               /  June 3, 2017

              They’ll never sack Sean. He’s good for thousands of sympathy votes for Trumpy imo. I love the way he stands up to the White House hyena pack, & then bolts for the side door left of podium when he’s had enough. 💪 Cruelest thing anyone could ever do to Spicey is lock that door. 😮

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  June 3, 2017

    With the Greens the posture is more important than the execution.

    Hell, if they had to make compromises and tough decisions they’d lose half their votes. Like the Maori Party did.

    • They would lose some votes but I think they would gain others.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  June 3, 2017

        The record of minor parties in coalition is fairly tragic for their electoral success. They lose their protest virtuosity and become complicit. Doesn’t say much for their voters of course.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  June 3, 2017

          A lot of protest voting is virtue signalling. Sad really but that’s humanity.

          • Brown

             /  June 3, 2017

            That’s the NZ Greens for you. So pure they cannot function in the dirty real world. I’m not sure how they reconcile the disaster that Marxism has always been but they’ll never get to try it and wreck everything so no harm in pretending to care.

  4. PDB

     /  June 3, 2017

    The irony of course is that the National party has kept all of Labour’s key vote-buying policies from the 2000’s and in most cases expanded upon them to further assist the very same families the Greens supposedly want to represent.

    Then the Greens say they want to represent Maori and guess which major party has done more for Maori for at least the last 30 years – it isn’t Labour.

    The Greens seem stuck in a time-warp where National is a far-right wing party to be hated when in reality this govt are no further right in most key policies than the last Labour party which the Greens supported.

    • Gezza

       /  June 3, 2017

      Um … yup … except they sold some more power companies.

      • PDB

         /  June 3, 2017

        Correction: ‘Partially’ sold some power companies – a minority share in fact.