Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Greens, abstention, and cooperation

When the Greens announced that they were "highly unlikely" to support a National government post-election, based on their expected policies, the paranoids and tribalists leapt on an ambiguity: it applied to supporting a government. What about abstention to allow a government to be formed? Cue much frothing about "slippery" Greens "selling out" Labour (to whom they supposedly owe fealty) and their own members (who decided this negotiating framework in the first place, and will decide on any deal through an SGM).

This morning on Nine To Noon [audio], co-leader Russel Norman cleared that up, explicitly stating [12:53] that it applied to abstention and that any agreement, even one to abstain, would depend on policy. They also made it clear that they intend to use any leverage they have not just to push for their own policies around clean rivers and child poverty, but also to roadblock National's core policies of asset sales and welfare "reform", which they "vehemently oppose". So, if fate conspires to deal us a Parliament where a National government propped up by Green abstention or support is the only credible option, no-one is going to be particularly happy.

In the more likely case that National ends up in government, Norman said the Greens would be willing to pursue a Memorandum of Understanding on areas where they had common ground, even if they were voting against them on confidence and supply. Which is exactly what a party of policy should do: work to advance its policies with anyone willing to cooperate.