Before we get into it, can we please start with this reminder about what it’s all about?
On a more human level, I hope people are doing alright. I know this is going to make your lives harder, but we're in this together. #nzpol
— Matt Whitehead (@MJWhitehead) September 23, 2017
The election, not what we had hoped for but not an unmitigated disaster either. We’ve got a few weeks of limbo to see what settles out, but there is a modicum of potential here for a centre left government. There are other important things to talk about too, more on that at the end.
Let’s get this out of the way first. Whatever reckons people have about what the Greens should do, they won’t support National to form government. They pledged to change the government by signing the MoU over a year ago, they’ve campaigned all year on this, and they’ve committed to not going with National. Shaw recommitted to a Labour-led government last night.
There’s really not any other assurances they can give, but as Russell Norman pointed out on RNZ last night, any deal that the Green Party want to do has to go to the membership. I’m mentioning all this because there are RW trolls and MSM reporters pushing the idea that it could happen. It’s a needless distraction to be put aside.
The election result currently looks like this. It doesn’t include the Special votes (overseas voters, people voting outside their electorate, and the Advance votes where people enrolled at the same time). They’re due by October 7 and usually drop the National % a bit and increase the Left’s.
|Centre Left total||61|
On the basis of that and the impending Specials, James Shaw’s election night speech went bold and said that Labour, the Greens and NZF should form a government.
James Shaw one of the few political leaders willing to embrace compromise and MMP politics, and damn he's showing it right now
— Kyle Church (@KyleDChurch) September 23, 2017
— Newshub (@NewshubNZ) September 23, 2017
It was a delightfully pivotal moment. The MSM had spent the evening going on about how National were winning, and Lefties were all getting pretty glum, and then Shaw stepped up and said let’s do this. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, because despite it being right that Labour and the Greens campaigned to govern alone, this was always the most likely outcome – that Peters would be kingmaker. But it was good to see the pushback to the establishment’s dominant and frankly FPP-ish narrative.
The current indications are that the three opposition parties command a majority of votes once the Specials and Overseas votes will have been counted. New Zealanders have voted for change.
He’s speaking to Jacinda Ardern today to look at how to form a new government for NZ. In the speech he then went straight to sending a message to Winston Peters about the common ground that the Greens and NZF have – zero carbon economy by 2050, reinvesting in and revitalising the rail network and forestry as well as regional economies. To which we can add some other key things like Pike River (I’m really hoping someone draws up a comprehensive list today). Shaw is saying now is the time to put the differences aside and work together. There’s enough there to work with then, but maybe there is need for caution too.
The Greens have some options. One is to enter into the 3 way coalition with Labour and NZF. That will depend on what the deal is and especially on what Peters wants. There will be some no go areas for the Greens (and Labour) e.g. I cannot imagine the Greens even contemplating a referendum on the Māori Seats. So what happens if Peters brings things to the table that the Greens (or Labour) can’t agree to?
Another option is an agreement to support a L/NZF coalition on Confidence and Supply and to stay out of government themselves. They could also agree to abstain. If this meant that it freed the Greens up to vote for or against the government as they chose on legislation other than monetary supply, and to speak out on the things that are important to them, then that sounds like it also has potential. If the Greens want change not power at any costs, then there are other ways of working than coalitions with too many compromises.
The third option is that if Peters’ bottom lines are unacceptable, the Greens (and Labour) remain in opposition and National get a fourth term with an unstable coalition partner that may or may not last. The Greens are then free to say whatever they like whenever they like. Not ideal at all and I can’t see the Greens proposing this so it would come down to Peters, but it’s important to understand that the Green Party’s core values aren’t for sale and they are a very effective opposition.
There’s a bit of talk already from some MSM pundits about how it’s not on for a NZ government to have a Prime Minister whose party only has 36% of the vote. This is daft, but bears examining because it’s basically saying that MMP is supposed to be a big party with one or two minor parties i.e. a duopoly.
For a bit of international context this got posted by regular TS commenter Swordfish a while back. It shows the second largest party in Sweden forming a coalition government after the 2006 General Election,
Social Democrats 35%(Largest Party)
Left Party 6% (Sixth)
Green 5% (Seventh)
Moderate 26% (Second Largest Party)
Centre 8% (Third)
Liberal People’s Party 8% (Fourth)
Christian Democrats 7% (Fifth)
Moderates form Centre-Right Coalition Govt
You can read about the actual conventions that NZ has on forming government here. It’s not what some are saying, and I think this is a good opportunity for NZers to educate themselves on this important constitutional matter and push back against the attempt at hegemony.
So that’s government. But it’s been a sea change election. The Greens broke the spell on welfare and that’s not going to go back in the box. Whatever government is formed, it will have to deal with this change. Metiria Turei won’t be in parliament, but if she picks up where she left off then there will be one formidable agent of change working from the community as well as the groundswell of support to transform welfare in NZ.
"No one can undo that recognition" says Jeanette Fitsimmons of the issues @metiria raised 💚💚💚
— Sarah Lin Wilson (@_writehanded_) September 23, 2017
The other thing here is this,
So how's that centrism working out?
— Joanne Waitoa (@phdwahine) September 23, 2017
We got a reprieve, of sorts. It might last two weeks or it might last 3 years. It’s not a win though, it’s just some space to do the real mahi in. The Left have got some hard thinking ahead of them.
And as always this,
TVNZ never once raised climate change in NZ election debate when opposition parties called this as a key issue- think about that #decision17
— Bronwyn Hayward (@BMHayward) September 23, 2017
That’s both the ongoing failings of the MSM, and the reminder that climate change is here, now, and that it too won’t be put aside. There’s only so long we can keep pretending it’s not happening. But here too is potential. If as George Monbiot says, the great sweeping changes of the past century have been about the dominating and inspiring stories, and the traditional left wing story isn’t enough to turn the tide, what is it the story now that we want to tell about NZ and ourselves that will make a difference?