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October 9, 2017 | by  | in Politics |
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Political Round Up

Potential National/Greens Coalition

There have been calls for the Green Party to abandon their hostility to National and join it in a coalition deal, despite the Greens having campaigned on “changing the government” throughout 2017.

Right wing commentators such as Matthew Hooton have been enthusiastic about a deal, and National Party politicians seem open to the idea as well: Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett said in an interview on September 29 that “we’d quite like to talk to [the Greens] but I don’t think they are up for it.”

Bennett was right in assuming Green Party members would be against a deal with National: former Green MP Catherine Delahunty said on September 29 that there was “a snowball’s chance in hell” of such a deal. The Greens need the support of 75% of their members to form a coalition, and members will be unlikely to support a National/Green deal after months of campaigning to change the government.

The Greens have been less averse to working with National in the past: on September 12, 2014, during the general election campaign, then co-leader Russel Norman said that although the Greens preferred Labour, it would be willing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with National if it retained government, in order to get some Greens policies implemented. However, since the Greens signed their Memorandum of Understanding with Labour last year, they have made it clear this election that they would not work with National.

Bill English said on September 25 that he had not ruled out a deal, but National “would need to see some indication of interest from” the Green Party first.

Delahunty claims that National will not rule out a deal with the Greens because doing so mitigates the influence Winston Peters has over forming the next government. “This is just a whole lot of political maneuvering by the National Party and others would would like to give Winston something to worry about,” she said on September 29. Former Green MP David Clendon agreed, saying “there’s a little bit of politicking going on.”

By making the Greens feel as if they could possibly enter government, National is attempting to strip Peters of his “Kingmaker” title.

But any potential deal between the two parties could be seen by their supporters as a betrayal of their respectives values. National’s rural voters see the Greens as dedicated to downsizing New Zealand’s agricultural sector due to the carbon emissions it produces, while Greens voters are concerned about National’s handling of issues like child poverty and dairy intensification.

A National/Greens coalition, then, was never really an option, just a distraction from the real government-formation talks.

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