The Green Party’s coalition process

Written By: - Date published: 10:59 am, October 6th, 2017 - 64 comments
Categories: election 2017, greens, MMP - Tags:

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.

64 comments on “The Green Party’s coalition process”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    Thanks, weka.

    Good to see Jack McDonald in the Consultation Group – we need that man in the House!

  2. garibaldi 2

    Thanks weka ,but the usual dorks will still be wondering why we won’t go with National.

  3. Antoine 3

    Nice post, informative

  4. CoroDale 5

    Co-convenor on the The Negotiation Consultation Group could be the orthodox soft spot, but potential as translator for the neo-dribble, oops. B4 rejoining the GP, shall give them a change continue with their impressive harmonisation progress. Or join National and start sorting them from the inside, such an amazing leadership vacuum! Opposite to the Green’s very strong team… oh I seriously want the Greens to meet with the adult-nappy-wearing gnats. *

    Good practice for meeting with NZF.

    Shaw be asking the gnats for a direct meeting with Govt Treasury Chief, (carrying protective herbs and crystals) and write done some of their insidious lies, for quoting the bankers, during the term.

    * “Former Green MP Nandor Tanczos writes that while it would be unconscionable to go with National now, the Greens need to prepare for a future where that’s on the table. This originally ran on his own blog, Monkeywrenching”

    • weka 5.1

      I’m not sure he said the Greens need to prepare for a coalition with National in the future so much as they need to be willing to position themselves as third point in a triangle that includes left and right. Labour/the left will still be the coalition partner of choice for very obvious reasons.

      The rest of your comment is hard to understand tbh, using conventional grammar would help.

  5. esoteric pineapples 6

    I suspect the Greens are the most democratic party in New Zealand with a bottom up approach rather than a top down one.

  6. Gristle 7

    Not wanting to be nerdy constitionalist but I note:
    (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.
    This clause provides an alternate route to confirm the negotiation outcomes that does not require a SGM.

    My guess is that Greens would want an expansive/inclusive alternative method (such as individual polling of members) rather than concentrating/elitist method (such as the Caucus.)

    • weka 7.1

      I like nerdy constitutionalists.

      I used to think that that phrase meant the Exec could override the intent of the members if it felt the need to (e.g. if somehow the membership was captured by enough people who didn’t agree with the Charter, constitution etc). But now I think it simply means that the process could be done by Skype rather than flying everyone to the same room. Or maybe use a new platform like loomio. I’m really guessing though.

      “My guess is that Greens would want an expansive/inclusive alternative method (such as individual polling of members) rather than concentrating/elitist method (such as the Caucus.)”

      That’s my reading too. Very hard to imagine the party going against the fundamental kaupapa of democracy.

    • solkta 7.2

      With such a clause it is important to remember that the only voting positions on the Party Executive are the Executive Networkers who are elected by each Province to represent them.

      And yes consultation at the grassroots would always be a necessity.

  7. There’s more to the process than Peters seems to acknowledge. He claims he can come to a decision by next Thursday. Both Ardern and English have said that’s a tight time frame but should be doable.

    But I haven’t seen any mention of how timing will work if Greens are a part of the deal.

    If the Green negotiation team comes to a provisional agreement with Labour and NZ First how long is it likely to take for Green party consultation before anything can be confirmed?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      It’s horrible. The Greens will hold the country to ransom forever! Only United Future can save us!

      Or not. Tune in to the next episode of “Peter can haz concerns” to find out.

      • It’s a fairly simple question that I think is of interest.

        Not surprising to see a stupid response from you. Your habit of abuse doesn’t fit well with Green claims of integrity and decency.

        There’s too much attention being paid to one person and what he wants. There’s a lot more to forming a new government. I don’t think there’s any hurry at all, the caretaker government is managing fine.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1.1

          Made an impact on the malnutrition rate have they? How are they doing on suicide, you transparent airbag?

        • tracey 8.1.1.2

          Why do you think an anonymous person on a blog should be synonymous with Green Party values which covers its MPs?

        • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.3

          Quick! Retreat to your own blog, Pete, where no one questions you!

          • Pete George 8.1.1.3.1

            You’ve been commenting there more than I have been Robert. Even questioning me, sort of. Allowed to without being attacked by a mob. But maybe you feel safer with your pettiness here.

            You’re another Green supporter who’s MO clashes starkly with the party ethos.

            • Union city greens 8.1.1.3.1.1

              “You’re another Green supporter who’s MO clashes starkly with the party ethos”

              Same as me, then. I also think you’re a dick head, busy body, arsehat wanker.
              Good job, to cut you off at the knees, I just vote for the party on policy and am not responsible for or beholden to party ethos.

    • tracey 8.2

      Perhaps Labour and Greens already have broad agreement and Labour is speaking as “we” with NZF?

      OR Ardern is able to speak with Shaw in between talking with NZF? The talks arent all day are they?

      • Shaw is unlikely to be able to take progress to the party every day to get ongoing approval. I think the other parties have committed to a degree of secrecy during negotiations anyway.

        • tracey 8.2.1.1

          Did you read weka’s post? They have two teams. One in negotiations, one supporting them. I imagine to support them they have to speak with them, regularly. NZF also says it has to consult with its party. Only National doesnt, prolly only has to chat to major donors.

          I think you underestimate the communication ability of the GP and the membership understanding that if it wants a say it needs to be ready. You understand that these teams have a mandate and direction already known so they will negotiate within those parameters and seek final ratification? It has also been 2 weeks pist election for good discussion/communication.

          In any event I said Ardern can talk to Shaw.

        • mickysavage 8.2.1.2

          The greens are similar to Labour. There is this collective mind stuff happening and it is not too difficult to work out what it is thinking. They do not need to do daily updates to work this out …

          • Skinny 8.2.1.2.1

            They will both need to do some collective thinking on ‘light weight’ rail to the Airport. Labour & Goff get their lips away from kissing China’s arse, PPP’s there put a line through it.

          • weka 8.2.1.2.2

            Do you mean that Labour and the Greens have similar policy and thinking on what should happen in a coalition?

        • weka 8.2.1.3


          Shaw is unlikely to be able to take progress to the party every day to get ongoing approval. I think the other parties have committed to a degree of secrecy during negotiations anyway.

          I’m also wondering if you bothered to read the post. It’s not Shaw, it’s the Negotiation Team, and my understanding is that there is an obligation for the NT to stay in regular contact with the NCT. From the post,

          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;

          That’s a quote from a remit that was passed at an AGM and afaik those involved have to adhere to it.

          • Pete George 8.2.1.3.1

            ” there is an obligation for the NT to stay in regular contact with the NCT”

            Yes, that was clear. But also in your post:

            “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”

            So consultation with party members appears to be required, through an SGM, or ‘an alternative method of consultation ‘.

            Either way, once NZF, Labour and the NT (in contact with the NCT) reach a negotiated agreement before the Greens make a final decision consultation with members is required.

            This seems likely to require some time, and there is no indication Peters has considered this in assuring he can meet a deadline of next Thursday, unless he has no intention of doing a deal with Labour and the Greens (I think the former more likely).

            It has been made clear that any deal between National and the Greens (I know that’s not going to happen) would be very unlikely to be approved by party members. There may be some governing options involving NZ First and Labour that may not be popular with green Party members either.

            • Ad 8.2.1.3.1.1

              A Labour-NZF coalition with the Greens on the cross-benches would be safest for the Greens to survive the next election.

              • I think that’s probably right. It would be the least risky arrangement for the Greens that involves them.

                Would Green party members and supporters be happy with that though? It’s been a long time out of Government, and there’s a risk Greens won’t survive the next election regardless of what part they play this term.

                It would also probably be the safest option for NZ First, especially if Peters decides it’s his last term. NZF is more dependent on him than the Greens are on their leaders – they have survived several leadership transitions.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  🙄

                  Yeah, the safest option is to cower in fear of the Treasury benches.

                  • Incognito

                    We don’t need “safe”, we need bold!

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Careful. Peter’s concerned enough as it is.

                    • Incognito

                      My eyesight is failing me; I read it as:

                      Careful. Peters’s concerned enough as it is.

                      But I thought you meant this:

                      Careful. Pete’s concerned enough as it is.

                      I think I’ll have a lie down now; the tension is getting to me …

            • weka 8.2.1.3.1.2

              “This seems likely to require some time, and there is no indication Peters has considered this in assuring he can meet a deadline of next Thursday, unless he has no intention of doing a deal with Labour and the Greens (I think the former more likely).”

              Not sure what you think is going to happen by Thurs. Peters has said he’ll have made a decision by then, but as far as I am aware NZF doesn’t get to form government.

              • That was my point. Peters can make ‘a decision’ by Thursday – he has repeated a couple of times this week that he will, but he’s not the only one who has to make a decision for a government to be formed.

                If he makes a decision to go with Labour, then Greens consult with party members and decide not to go with whatever they are offered (which i expect will take some time), then Peters could be left with just one choice – unless National also decide they don’t want to work with him.

                It’s not going to be as simple as perhaps he thinks, and it may not be as quick.

                However if Peters makes a decision by Thursday to go with Labour, that could put some pressure on the Greens, as they may have to decide to go with whatever is on offer or else a new election might be required. That would be very risky for the greens (and NZF).

                • tracey

                  Why do you think it will take the Greens some time? What do you mean by some time? I would estimate days myself, in these electronic of times.

                  • That’s likely to be a few more days than Peters has allowed for. It could be one of the most important decisions made in Green party history, so I think they will not want to rush it.

                    And the Green decision may mean Peters has to then make another decision – or it could go back to negotiations. Thursday could be over optimistic.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      What do you mean by over optimistic? I’m concerned by this terrible uncertainty. So concerned.

                    • weka

                      “Thursday could be over optimistic.”

                      Only for people who are thinking that Thurs is anything other than NZF announcing its intentions.

                    • Incognito

                      So, Thursday will be the big Moment of Truth? Last time I heard this it sort of fizzled into nothingness …

                    • weka

                      Lol, nice one Incog.

                • weka

                  What decision do you think Peters is referring to when he says by Thurs? Who NZF will support into govt? Or something else?

  8. tracey 9

    Thanks for this weka.

    It is hard to conclude anything else from National supporters and the MSM that they never really wanted to know Greens “why not” cos so many have ignored

    The Charter
    The Rules and
    Pre election statements

    Which make the why not very clear.

    • weka 9.1

      I agree, it’s looking like wilful ignorance on the part of too many. I get that culturally what the GP do is outside of what some people are used to, but that’s not an excuse to misrepresent it.

      • tracey 9.1.1

        yes. It is intellectually easy to understand if you can read the Charter, the Rules and pre election statements.

        • weka 9.1.1.1

          I’ve heard otherwise intelligent people saying that in the context of the Greens ‘change the government’ position that could mean going with National because a N/G government would be a change wouldn’t it?

          Scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  9. Skinny 10

    Well that looks like a bloated line up. I wouldn’t have ‘caged chickens’ Jennette in the mix given she fluffed the negotiations with Labour, she may even put the rights of chooks back on the table lol.

    It won’t be Peters holding the show up it will be the mung bean chompers. The NZF crew would be better off going into negotiate with the Greens while they are both fresh. Can only see Peters & Jones getting grumpy if they are left till later.

  10. the pigman 11

    The weeks to follow?

    OK, but Winston is promising the media a coalition agreement by Thursday so…

    *goes and shits out a Stuff article about how this is conclusive proof there will be no Lab/Green/NZF deal*

    • weka 11.1

      Can you link to where Peters is promising that? Because afaik, all Peters can do is say what NZF agree to. Formation of government will be up to Labour*, and then the Governor General.

      *I assume we have convention that it’s the largest party that approaches the GG with a proposal.

      • Hanswurst 11.1.1

        My connection is a bit slow for me to look it up at the moment. As I understand it, though, whoever the negotiating parties agree to support prime minister would go to the Governor General, say that they had a majority in parliament and then be tasked with forming a ministry. So I don’t think that there is really any convention that it need be the leader of the largest parliamentary party of those in the incoming coalition. It’s sort of academic, though, since, although other candidates are theoretically possible, it is difficult to see a situation arising in which a coalition would opt for them, apart from perhaps in something like a grand coalition, assuming two parties have similar numbers in the house.

        • weka 11.1.1.1

          Are you suggesting that Peters’s kingmaker role extends to him being the one that finalises the coalition? As opposed to him announcing by Thurs who NZF chooses.

          • tracey 11.1.1.1.1

            It is possible he means that by Thursday he will announce (with another leader/s) who he has reached a Coalition agreement with? Or a MOU, with Agreement to be formalised later?

            • weka 11.1.1.1.1.1

              I assume that Peters will announce on Thursday who NZF is willing to go into coalition with. Possibly there will be details about that coalition.

              But it seems to me that some people are thinking that Peters will announce on Thurs the formation of a new government. I’m not sure he has that power, nor whether that’s his role, nor whether he sees it as his role.

              I can’t remember what’s happened in the past though.

              Once NZF make up their mind, I’ll be interested in what Labour and the Greens have to announce as well.

              • tracey

                IF he is going to decide by Thursday who he will go with, then he can announce that I guess…at anytime. Mymemory is that a press conference was called and the Leaders of the new proposed Coalition Gvt attended and signed stuff?

                • weka

                  “Mymemory is that a press conference was called and the Leaders of the new proposed Coalition Gvt attended and signed stuff?”

                  Trying to remember the last time we had a govt that involved L/NZF/G.

          • Hanswurst 11.1.1.1.2

            No, I’m just referring to who approaches the GG, as per your footnote.

  11. Ed 12

    The media still gibbering away about National and Greens,
    Powerful people want this message heard a lot.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11931383

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