Greens getting smart

Martin Kay in the Dom Post reports:

The Greens have held out a slim prospect of a post-election deal with National in a suggestion to be put to members.

A proposal on political manoeuvring ahead of the election, to go to the Greens’ annual general meeting in June, says the preference is for a deal with Labour, if it is in a position to form a Government.

But it also leaves the door slightly ajar to a deal with National – saying that a confidence and supply agreement is ”extremely unlikely” but not ruling it out altogether.

”The Greens could work with a National-led government to progress particular Green policies as we have over the last three years; but based on current National Party policy positions it is extremely unlikely that we could support a National-led government on confidence and supply,” the draft remit says.

The proposed position is different from 2008, when the Greens firmly ruled out any prospect of a confidence and supply deal with National after judging its policies in key areas.

It appears the party’s leadership is wary of slamming the door shut this time around in case the election result leaves National in a position where they have to court the smaller party’s support.

The wording of the remit also suggests options could include abstaining on confidence and supply, a position that could allow National to govern in return for key environmental policy concessions.

This is sensible stuff from the Greens, for three reasons:

  1. By leaving open the possibility of doing a deal with National, they are less likely to be taken for granted by Labour. Labour has consistently gone for United Future and NZ First, in preference to the Greens, as the Greens had nowhere to go.
  2. While I fully expect that the Greens would always choose a Labour-led Government over a National-led Government if they can make either come about, there may be a situation where if the Greens support Labour Parliament is hung. This means their option will be to force a new election or to possibly do a deal with National where they abstain on supply and confidence in return for some policy wins. I doubt they’d ever do more than abstain, but that might be enough to allow National to govern, of Labour is not able to.
  3. Keeping their options open, even if only a but, means that they can campaign on a clear message of “Whomever is in Government, we’ll work them to get a greener Government. That could well be attractive to people who don’t want Phil Goff as Prime Minister, but would like a greener Government.

There are some dangers. The new Hone hard left party may campaign on the fact they’ll never work with Natonal, but the Greens might. However as Goff has ruled out working with the Hone party, that is less of a threat than it may have been.

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