How many electorates will Greens contest?

It has been suggested that a nuclear option for the Greens is to not support a Labour-NZ First coalition from the cross benches. But that won’t come up until after the election.

There’s another nuclear option – to go hard out competing with Labour for both votes and for electorates in the campaign.

This must be an option that the greens have considered. At what point in perceived hopelessness for Labour’s chances will they push this button?

If Greens see little chance of getting into power after September’s election without severely compromising their integrity and credibility they may bring into a longer term plan – to become the dominant left wing party, which would have to be at Labour’s expense.

The only chance of them growing into this position iks by winning electorates.

Green Party icon Jeanette Fitzsimons won the Coromandel electorate in 1999, losing it in 2002. Since then Greens haven’t contested electorates, putting all their efforts into getting the party vote, crucial under MMP.

Until this election.

They have already signalled that they are competing for the Nelson electorate – one that they seem to have little chance of winning off Nick Smith. But this may be just a preliminary manoeuvre.

Why just one? It doesn’t seem to make sense. Will the Greens try to win more electorates?

This election Turei has decided not to contest Dunedin North, where she has done very well in the past few elections. This time she is standing in the southern Maori seat of Te Tai Tonga.

The incumbent MP is Labour’s Rino Tirikatene, who is not exactly a top MP, currently ranked 26 out of 31 in Labour’s pecking order. Like all Labour’s other Maori MPs he didn’t go on the party list this year (unlike other Maori candidates he wasn’t on the list last election either).

Turei has also shown that she fancies the Greens going for more Maori votes. This is competing very much with Labour.

Will she go hard out for Te Tai Tonga?

What about James Shaw in Wellington Central? He has done ok there in the last two elections against Labour’s Grant Robertson, but the Greens in  particular have done very well, getting more party vote than Labour in the last three elections.

If Greens could pull off Wellington Central it would be a major blow to Labour.

It would position Greens well to target what must be their ultimate ambition, to become the dominant left wing party. This means competing head to head with Labour.

With a collapse in the Labour vote this election a distinct possibility – it is being openly talked about by media – the Green outlook come coalition negotiating time looks very limited.

Greens seem to have hit a ceiling of support going for party vote only.

Actively contesting electorates could lift their party vote.

The logical way to go to the next level is to start winning electorates. Winning electorates is probably their only way of competing with Labour for being the lead opposition party, and ultimately the party leading Government.

With their negotiating position and coalition options looking very weak this election, this presents both a dilemma and an opportunity for the Greens.

They are at risk of losing third party status to NZ First, and not just on party vote. Winston Peters won the Northland by-election early this term, and NZ First seem to fancy their chances in Whangarei where Shane Jones is contesting.

Will the Greens push the nuclear button and compete hard out against Labour both for party votes and electorates?

There’s no better time than now to go for it.

US Supreme Court nomination going ‘nuclear’

As predicted Senate Democrats blocked the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court  to fill a vacancy that wasn’t filled last year because Republicans blocked President Obama’s nomination.

So the Republicans are resorting to a rule change to override the need for a 60 vote majority, often referred to as ‘the nuclear option’ – a move enabled by Democrats in 2013 that allowed them to ram through lower court nominations.

I don’t know why the Democrats didn’t try going nuclear last year, perhaps they thought it would look too bad in election year.

But the Republicans don’t care how it looks now, they just want to win over the nomination.

The BBC covers this in ‘Nuclear’ showdown over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

Republicans have taken the historic step of changing US Senate rules in order to ram through confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

They invoked the “nuclear option” after Democrats used a tactic known as a filibuster for the first time in half a century to block the nominee.

Denver appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch is now set to be approved on Friday.

The move will leave Congress even more plagued by gridlock. Republican John McCain said: “Bad day for democracy.”

At stakes is ideological control of the nation’s highest court, which has the final say on some of the most controversial US legal issues, from gun control to abortion to election financing to workers’ and LGBT rights.

Given the sweeping power of the Supreme Court – it touches on every facet of American life – the stakes have become too high for little things like tradition and consensus-building to merit consideration.

Thursday was about the exercise of raw power. Republicans had the votes, and they wanted – they needed – their man on the high court to preserve their conservative majority.

The legislative manoeuvre – called the nuclear option because it is so extreme – enables Mr Gorsuch to be approved by a simple majority in the 100-member Senate, where Republicans control 52 seats.

After falling five votes short on Thursday of the 60 needed to confirm Mr Gorsuch, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell retaliated by voting 52-48 along party lines to rewrite the rules.

The legislative manoeuvre – called the nuclear option because it is so extreme – enables Mr Gorsuch to be approved by a simple majority in the 100-member Senate, where Republicans control 52 seats.

Given the sweeping power of the Supreme Court – it touches on every facet of American life – the stakes have become too high for little things like tradition and consensus-building to merit consideration.

Thursday was about the exercise of raw power. Republicans had the votes, and they wanted – they needed – their man on the high court to preserve their conservative majority.

So much for a non-partisan judiciary, but trying to slant the Supreme Court politically is nothing new in the US. Allowing politicians to select judges is doomed to be abused.

More from the BBC on this:

The ‘shining city upon a hill whose beaconlight guides freedom-loving people everywhere’ (Ronald Reagan) was already badly tarnished has found a way to set a worse example of democratic abuse.