A few weeks ago I posted a blog called A Reassuring Rebuild: The Freiburg Parallel about the sensitive rebuilding of the city of Freiburg, in the German state of Baden-Württemburg.
Now I see that the Greens have won control of the Baden-Württemburg state government, ending 58 years of conservative rule in that state.
This was partly swung by the nuclear power / Fukushima issue, as the conservative Minister-President of Baden-Württemburg was a big nuclear power buff.
There is an interesting parallel to New Zealand, and that is National’s chronic conflict with the three ‘green mayors’ over transport and, in Christchurch, over a range of issues including the demolition of historic buildings.
Plus also National’s (or NACT’s) obvious ties to the most unproductive and speculative factions of capital in New Zealand, which put it to the right of the International Monetary Fund over issues like a capital gains tax on real estate.
These are National’s weak spots. First roads, over which it is every bit as vulnerable in Auckland as the German conservatives became, over nuclear power, after Fukushima.
But also, reconstruction. And resentment, against the ‘banksters’ as so many like to call them.
The latest posts on The Standard and on Transportblog speculate on a snowballing political movement against the government’s urban roading policies, in particular, in Auckland.
A recent Herald editorial Future City calls for Bold Vision compared the government’s obsession with roads to insanity. None of the comments, at the time of writing, have stuck up for Joyce. In fact nine out of ten seem to fulsomely endorse the leader-writer’s position.
Elsewhere, people have speculated as to why Labour isn’t making more hay out of this issue.
Perhaps that’s because Labour is too distracted with its own internal upheavals. Labour, I think we can take it as read now, if not last month, has no chance of winning on its own, the traditional Plan A of New Zealand politics up to now, mainly because it was the only realistic plan under FPP.
Yet on the other hand, the politics of what we might call the 3 R’s, “roads, reconstruction and resentment” is there for the taking by anyone who has a bit more of the “mongrel” in them, as Matt McCarten says, and fewer distractions.
This raises the interesting possibility of a more significant surge to the so-called minor parties, the Greens and New Zealand First, than we might have expected otherwise. In short a Plan B in which Labour is saved by the emergence of a fairly broad coalition.
Suppose the 3R’s mean that the Greens get 10 per cent and NZF 10 per cent as well. This might leave Labour very close to being primus inter pares, though I’d be surprised if Labour ends up behind the Greens. Which is what happened to the Social Democrats, the German equivalent of Labour, in Baden-Württemburg.
That’s probably a fluke. But big swings to the Greens seem to be happening everywhere and we certainly have the issues in NZ, not least because the Greens are muscling into traditional Labour ‘social’ territory, as is NZF.
Under the circumstances, a big vote for the Greens and NZF should be positively encouraged, as it seems to be the only way that a potential Labour coalition could still pull votes from wobbly Nats and the stay-at-home brigade.
In turn this will put a premium on coalition building and on the question of who might be charged with coalition building, i.e. who in the higher ranks of Labour has the best links with the Greens and/or NZF, preferably both. Given the past reluctance of NZF to work with the Greens. Labour will have to be the go-between.
At the same time it might also be fruitful to look at who ends up in the grey zone of the respective parties’ lists once they are picked, since some in Labour are likely to be out and some in the Greens / NZF to be in.
In some ways it’s a rerun of 1975. That is, an uphill struggle for Labour under a leader not regarded as especially inspiring and/or secure (Bill Rowling then, Phil Goff now, or else a newbie if Phil does get rolled). Conventional wisdom therefore has it that Labour can’t win.
Yet the numbers on the night would have returned Labour to office in 1975 under MMP, albeit as a coalition with Values (forerunners of the Greens) and Social Credit (forerunners, in some ways, of NZF). So history doesn’t repeat but it rhymes, and thank goodness for MMP, which allows this kind of Plan B.
There has been plenty of speculation about a coalition. But I would suggest that the combination of
– Labour’s travails
– the Baden-Württemburg state victory for the Greens and the parallelism between nukes and roads
– 3 R’s more generally, which the Greens and NZF can champion, or channel, more effectively than Labour
all mean that Plan B’s the only plan.
[PS. name the flag above to win four metric tonnes of kudos -Eddie]