A few thoughts from social ecologist and green politician Nandor Tanczos on the options for the Greens in the coalition deal process,
On the other hand, if he goes with Labour and elbows the Greens into the position of a support party outside of government, the Greens might end up with more leverage than they have now. The government would still rely on them to pass all its legislation, unless it can get support from National, but the Greens would not be bound by rules of cabinet responsibility. Labour could guarantee to support NZF legislative initiatives but not to pass them. Or it’s own for that matter, unless it ties the Greens into a closer arrangement than confidence and supply.
If the Greens were in a C&S arrangement with the government reliant on them for votes, they would have to use such power carefully and wisely. To be seen to be hamstringing the government would likely provoke a backlash. But what they could do is use the opportunity to strategically carve out a broader support base, by being seen to speak and exercise power on behalf of some new constituencies – ones that disrupt the left / right model of politics that they are currently trapped in.
Finally, it is a shame to see that the small parties are unable to talk together during coalition negotiations (and by all accounts it is Winston that refuses to entertain the possibility). NZF and Greens have plenty in common and no doubt by working strategically together they could achieve far bigger gains for both of them. Divide and rule is an old tactic but I don’t understand why anyone would play that trick on themselves.
Full article, including Tanczos’ view on what Peters is doing, is worth reading here.
The value in this is not in trying to guess what will happen this week/next week, but to understand that the Greens have options here. If the Greens prioritise change over power, then the whole ‘they have no leverage’ rhetoric becomes less important than the fact that the Greens are necessary to form government but still have choices in how they participate in that.
I have no doubt that they will make the best of that they can but it might not necessarily be what people assume. The Greens are at heart co-operative but not pushovers. There is power in having choice and those with the courage to wield that power for change rather than for power’s sake aren’t well understood in our macho politics culture. So the narrative might be that Peters pushes them out, but that doesn’t make them victims with no agency. If there’s one thing we’ve seen this election it’s that the Greens have balls and ovaries both.
Tanczos also wrote recently about the longer term options for the Greens to move beyond their current reliance on Labour,
To illustrate: in order to build a more robust support base and grow the vote for a progressive government, the Greens need to stop trying to poach Labour voters and identify new constituencies. There are around 450,000 small businesses in Aotearoa employing 5 people or less. Self employment speaks to core Green ideals of supporting local economies, building self-reliance and personal autonomy, helping people lift themselves out of poverty and fostering stronger linkages between businesses and the social ecological communities in which they are located. I know a great many small business owners who support the ideals of the Greens but who don’t connect with us a party because we are not speaking to them.
There are actually lots of Greens who are small business owners – probably a disproportionate number compared to either National or Labour. Both National and Labour tend to focus on large corporate bureaucracies and play little attention to how their policies impact on small businesses – who as we know are New Zealand’s biggest employer. For years the Greens put loads of effort into trying to woo the unions. It would be worth putting the same effort into understanding how to support a sustainable, resilient and regenerative business ecology. Certainly no one else is doing much in that space.
Escaping our ‘left of Labour’ trap is not about ‘moving to the centre’. The very notion of a centre sitting half-way between Labour and National is irrelevant when we locate ourself on a triangle. Neither is it about ‘abandoning our principles’. Rather it is about embodying them in their entirety. What they cannot mean, though, is relegating ourselves to the periphery of power just because we are committed to giving Labour a free run.
So where he says in the first article “by being seen to speak and exercise power on behalf of some new constituencies” I assume that’s part of it. I would also see the potential for the Greens to speak and exercise power on behalf of welfare recipients and other people living in poverty.