Joe Hendren

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Should the Greens weaken their policies to gain greater political support?

Pablo over at KiwiPolitico has an interesting post looking at whether the Greens should consider "a more nuanced and less ideologically rigid, but no less idealist in principle, approach to New Zealand’s foreign affairs". While I do not agree with his general thesis, I believe Pablo has identified some of the tension points that may arise if the Greens ever become part of a Government.

I posted the following as a comment over at Kiwi Politico.

The problem with the idea that the Greens should moderate their politics in order to become more of a mainstream party is that I can’t think of examples where such a strategy has been successful. I also don’t think it takes into account the impact of MMP and the need for parties to maintain a distinct political brand.

Reading your post I could not help but think of the fate of the German Greens, who watered down their foreign policy stance, particularly with Joschka Fischer serving as Foreign Minister. While their 2002 result was slightly higher than 1999, they also lost a lot of their core support. This hardly demonstrates that softening their policy stance will gain the NZ greens significantly greater political support.

A similar story could be told about efforts of Anderton and his cronies to weaken the policies of the Alliance between 1999 and 2002. Their strategy can now be judged, as it describes the policy direction of the Progressives - its ended up with Jim as a single MP.

I also fear you are following the business press when you equate opposition to open economies and current free trade agreements with ‘a generic opposition to trade’. Given the evidence of the many nasties contained in ‘free trade’ agreements, its reasonable to oppose this model while advocating for reform of multilateral institutions and considering trade within a wider economic strategy that considers economic development and the environment. Equating this with opposing trade full stop is a straw man argument aiming to shut down opposition to the free trade agenda. I should clarify that I do not wish to imply you are doing this personally - its more a comment on the free trade proponents who don’t even want to admit there might be negatives to a particular trade deal.

I also agree with what Rich had to say in the comments.

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At 1:48 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joe. Thanks for the comment over at kwipolitico and the post here. I do not think that the Greens will weaken their policies if they expand and deepen their policy platforms out of their foundational purview. I do not see this as selling but so much as dealing with the complexities of assuming the mantle of being the third most popular political party in NZ--and therefore needing to step up to the plate on a whole array of policy issues outside of the "pet" projects of yore (no disrespect for those projects implied). That is something for the Green Party membership to decide, although as Graeme noted in his comment on the post, that could well divide them.

Again, cheers for the comment/post follow up.


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