Once again, the Greens have the best billboards and a great policy platform. But the really clever bit is their positioning. A lot of people don’t like National’s policies and don’t want them having a majority. They like Labour’s policies but not the personnel. Enter the Greens: good policies, nice people, and, officially, a willingness to work with and counterbalance National.
Much like the Lib Dems in the UK or the NDP in Canada, the Greens downplayed (but not abandoned) their more leftwing policies and accentuated the values that are both green and middle class. In doing so, they have positioned themselves as the closest thing left to a centrist balancing party that can moderate a rightwing government.
The results can be seen in the polls. The Greens are surging without doing a hell of a lot, just through their positioning.
If, as everyone expects, the Nats’ polling declines over the coming weeks, where will it go? Some should go back to Labour – remember, they were polling in the mid-30s just a few months ago – but I can’t see them surging to the 36-38% range at this point. But the Greens could easily pick up many people who want a potential partner for National that will control it.
This is where things get interesting. What if National really does end up needing the Greens to make a majority? They wouldn’t be able to get any of their major policies – asset sales – through unless the Greens totally sell out. If the Greens’ have any sense (and they do) they wouldn’t sip from that poisoned chalice. They’ve seen what has happened to the Lib Dems and the Maori Party.
In fact, any situation in which the Nats need the Greens for a majority would almost certainly mean a majority could also be made by leftwing parties. Now, wouldn’t that be something? National goes down to 46-47%. Act only gets 1 or 2 seats. The Greens get, say, 15%, Labour gets 31% and, with the Maori Party and/or Mana, are able to form a majority.
Sound impossible? Well, it would only take a 4% shift from the latest Roy Morgan to happen. Those kind of shifts can happen in a week in an election campaign. It could happen, although for such a coalition to work a lot of people would have to swallow their pride! Which would be a lot easier than swallowing three more years of muddling through, downgrades, and lost jobs with asset sales to boot.
Something to ponder for Labour MPs sniping at the Greens. At the moment, they’re your best ticket to the Treasury benches 😀
Go the Greens!