Challenges for the Greens this term

In the final pre-election polls the Greens were polling at between 11% and 14.4%. The average was 12.7%. However they got just 10.0% (on provisionals) and actually lost an MP from 2011. It was a hugely disappointing result for a party that hadn’t had any major screw ups (apart from Russel’s mad idea to print more money), and should have got a big boost from left voters who turned off Labour.

They could pick up their lost seat on specials but their 14th seat has a quotient of 7806, a fair way behind Labour on 8240.

They did well in Wellington and Christchurch, getting 17% and 13% of the vote respectively. However in Auckland they managed only 9%. Their vote fell in all regions from 0.4% to 1.8%. They did improve by 0.5% in the Maori seats.

They got over 20% in five seats – Wellington Central 28%, Rongotai 25%, Dunedin North 22%, Auckland Central 21% and Mt Albert 21%. They only got between 15% and 20% in another three seats – Port Hills, Te Tai Tonga and Christchurch Central. In 42 seats they got below 10%, and below 5% in just five seats (all in Auckland).

Their best provincial seat was Nelson on 13%, and best rural seats WCT on 12%.

So why such a poor result. A few factors I’d speculate on:

  • Their voters did not vote as the thought of a Labour-led Government was unappealing, but could not bring themselves to vote National so did not vote
  • Younger supporters did not vote
  • Their campaign was not as good in 2011. The tagline was confusing and did not resonate. The images did not support their tagline.
  • Centrist voters who value the environment voted National, as the did not want to risk Dotcom being part of Government
  • Like Labour they suffered from four of the five weeks of the campaign not being about policy

So what are their challenges going ahead:


They only got one new MP in. Last time they got several, so renewal is not an issue this term, but will be next election.


Both Norman and Turei are now seasoned politicians, who have avoided the gaffes of their Labour counterparts. Partly that is because of less scrutiny, but still solid performances.

Norman has now been co-leader for eight years, and by 2017 will be 11 years. Turei for five and a half years.

There are two capable successors to Norman – Kevin Hague and in time James Shaw.

It is more difficult on the female side. If they had got Marama Davidson in, she would be a potential future co-leader. Eugenie Sage would probably be the most likely successor, but too early to say.

Perpetual Opposition

How do the Greens break out of opposition? If National gets a fourth term, then that is 21 years in opposition. And because Labour knows they can’t ever not support Labour, Labour might lock them out in future again, if a party like NZ First demands it.


The Greens need to find a way to credibly say under some circumstances they could abstain on a National-led Government, so that Labour can’t take them for granted. The challenge is to do it in a way which won’t send their own supporters fleeing.

They could do a Winston and say they will negotiate with the largest party first, but would only agree to abstain or support of they get the right policy commitments on climate change, child poverty etc.

The new Internet Party?

There is a potential opportunity for the Greens to pick up former Internet Party supporters and declare themselves the true Internet Party. Gareth Hughes is widely respected for his work on Internet issues.


As Labour gets into more turmoil, do they try to supplant it? Is their ambition to be third, second or first?

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