Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Greens Labour to Left in New Zealand Post-Election Coalition Speculation

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, with 6 MPs in the current parliament, has evaluated its options for a coalition agreement with one of the two major political parties, concluding it could work with Labour but not National (Green Party press release and 12 point checklist here).

It has nevertheless concluded that the two major parties are closer to each other in terms of green policies than to The Greens.

The Party assessed Labour and National's policies and public statements against a check list of 12 key Green Policy objectives such as reduced fossil fuel use and emissions, increased public transport investment, cleaning up waterways, protecting endangered species and ecosystems, and building a genuine Treaty partnership with Maori.

While neither of the main parties has substantially advanced Green policies, the Greens found that Labour's initiatives to eventually price carbon emissions through the Emissions Trading System, to fund new rail investment, the 40 percent increase in funding for the Department of Conservation since 2005, the increase in the minimum wage, the introduction of Working for Families assistance to low-income families, cumulatively weighed in Labour's favour for Green support.

The Greens concluded, however, that in the area of building a genuine partnership with Maori, Labour's performance is mediocre. Only National's worse performance, eg its declared policy of abolishing the Maori seats by 2014, saves the day for Labour.

While the Greens found some examples of National policy in accord with their own, eg. requiring the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to invest more in New Zealand, Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said that too many of National's policies "headed off down a dead end street. This means that we cannot form a government with National, or support them on confidence and supply, although we could work with them in areas where we have common ground."

Labour leader & PM, Helen Clark, will see a glimmer of hope in the Greens' position. If Labour can close the gap on National then there may be a chance of Labour forming a Labour-Green coalition something that did not result after the 2005 election.

The Greens are the only one of the smaller parties that consistently poll over 5 percent of the party vote in the MMP system required to secure party list seats in parliament. Recent polls show their support at 7 - 9 percent of party support among voters indicating the Greens are likely to retain their 6 seats and possibly gain more.

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