Two of the big issues in the ‘can the Greens go with National?’ debate are the party’s political positioning, and the internal processes that the party is obligated to follow. Both of those things reflect deeper values around policy and decision making, and I hope this post will shed some light on what they are.
I’m aware of the current concerted effort to undermine the Greens and the left, as well as the general disinformation from some of the MSM, so this post serves as a reference point for how things work in the party. This information comes from the public domain and from talking with GP activists. Corrections and additions welcome.
The Greens announced their negotiation teams last week. There are two. The Negotiation Team deals with other parties, and is guided and supported by the ten member Negotiation Consultation Group, which has been appointed jointly by the Caucus and Party Executive. Decisions are made by both groups together (more details on how those groups are formed and work at are further down).
The Negotiation Team:
James Shaw (Co-leader, MP, Spokesperson for Climate Change, Finance and Economic Development)
Eugenie Sage (MP, Spokesperson for Environment, Primary Industries, Land Information, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, and Earthquake Commission)
Tory Whanau (Acting Chief of Staff)
Debs Martin (Co-convenor)
Andrew Campbell (Campaign committee member)
The Negotiation Consultation Group:
Jack McDonald (Taranaki iwi Te Whakatōhea, Te Ātiawa, candidate, 11th on list, Green Party parliamentary staffer, Te Rōpū Pounamu)
Jan Logie (MP, Spokesperson for Social Development (inc. Women, Community and Voluntary Sector), State Services, Local Government (inc Civil Defence) and Rainbow Issues)
Kath Dewar (GP lead volunteer)
Jeanette Fitzsimons (ex MP and Co-leader)
Caroline Glass (former Policy Co-convenor)
David Moorhouse (former candidate for Christchurch East)
Julie-Anne Genter (MP, Spokesperson for Health (inc ACC), Transport, Auckland Issues, Youth, Associate Finance and Sports and Recreation)
Robin McCandless (candidate for Rangitikei, IT specialist, project manager, consultant and strategist, Public Sector)
John Ranta (Co-convenor)
Roland Sapsford (former candidate and Co-convenor, researcher and policy development, activist)
James Shaw outlines the priorities for the party,
“Our team has the experience and expertise to represent the interests of the Green Party, its members and its supporters in the negotiations to come,” said Mr Shaw.
“I want to assure Green Party members and the public that we go into these negotiations in good faith and with the best interests of all New Zealanders at heart.
“Forming a stable, progressive government and advancing the Green Party’s priorities of real climate action, cleaning up our rivers and ending poverty are all top of mind.
“We also know that New Zealanders want these negotiations to be undertaken professionally and promptly; the Green Party will honour that,” said Mr Shaw.
The following is the Green Party’s political positioning and coalition process in their own words. It comes from the remit passed at the 2011 AGM, which still stands.
It’s worth noting that the AGM is the highest decision making body in the Green Party. Decisions made there cannot be overridden by Caucus, the Exec or the Co-leaders. AGM decisions are made by delegates via consensus, and if necessary by a 75% vote, as determined in the Green Party Constitution. Delegates act on instructions from the members at Province branches/electorates, instructions that come from consensus decision-making processes at the local level.
Overall political positioning
Agrees that, until such time as we are in a position to lead a government, the Green Party will campaign on the basis of the following political position:
(i) The Green Party is an independent and distinct party, which in order to urgently advance Green Party policy goals, will attempt to work constructively with, and challenge, whichever party leads the government after an election;
(ii) To enable any party or parties to form a government, we would need significant progress on Green Party environmental, economic and social policies and initiatives that would give effect to the Green Party Charter.
That section allows the party to technically form a coalition with anyone, and fits with the Green Party kaupapa of co-operation politics. But it also signals where the limits are, including in reference to the Charter, a document which appears to be roundly ignored by many in the MSM and RW commentariat. Go read it if you want to better understand the GP political positioning.
Further, at each election there has also been direction for that particular year’s situation. In the link you can see the 2011 position, which was that it was highly unlikely that the GP could support a National government because of National’s policies and track record. This was repeated in 2014.
In 2017 the Greens had already committed to not supporting a National government and instead to change the government and work with Labour as their preferred coalition partner. They had an agreement with Labour on this in the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding. In other words, in 2017 the Green Party will not support a National government, this has already been decided.
Here’s the coalition negotiation process from the same AGM,
3. Post-election process
Agrees that the following process will apply to post-election negotiations by the Green Party after a general election:
(i) a Negotiating Team, jointly chosen by the Parliamentary Caucus and the National Executive, may enter into post-election negotiations with a view to reaching an agreement on policies and processes that will advance the Green agenda;
(ii) in addition to the negotiating team there will be a Negotiating Consultation Group consisting of five members nominated by Caucus and five members nominated by National Executive. The Negotiation Consultation Group does not directly participate in the negotiations but is to receive daily briefings from the Negotiating Team during the course of the negotiations;
(iii) all decisions concerning the negotiations (including what agreement, if any, would potentially be taken to a Special General Meeting (SGM)) are taken by the combined Negotiating Team and Negotiation Consultation Group;
(iv) any agreement with one or more political parties that includes confidence and supply votes will be referred to an SGM, unless the National Executive agree that an alternative method of consultation is sufficient ;
(v) the National Executive will start the process of forming the Negotiating Team and Negotiating Consultation group following the AGM in election year and will tentatively schedule an SGM once the election date is known.
The two negotiation teams are guided by that remit and the MoU as well as input from various channels within the party including the long term Strategic Planning and Facilitation Group.
As I understand it the two teams work on a coalition deal as per above, and this deal needs to be something likely to be acceptable to the membership. Once a deal (or deals) are proposed, they are taken to the members at the Province level, who then use consensus (or, if necessary, 75%) to reach a decision. Delegates from each electorate go to a Special General Meeting of the Green Party and any deal needs either consensus or 75% of the delegate vote.
Once the General Election final votes count is released on Saturday, formal negotiations can begin, and all parties will need time to go through their own processes around that.