05/06/2017
Owen LLewellyn
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Farcical Identity Politics Makes Joke of Greens List

The Green Party of Aotearoa have announced their party list for September’s election.  The Greens have a unique method of finalising their party list, allowing members to vote to select the positions of the various candidates on the list.  Remember, in the New Zealand system, your list ranking will decide whether you become an MP or not unless you win an electorate.  Given that, apart from the occasional success in the Coromandel, no Green candidates actually win constituencies, the list ranking is everything for them.  

 

Now this year there is a possibility (not that strong, but a possibility) that the Greens,in coalition with Labour, could actually form the next government.  So, you would think they’d be keen to have the most impressive and capable team on display for the voting public, because when it gets close to voting day folk have to have a serious think about whether they really want particular parties or individuals to hold the reigns of power…..  Well, think again.  The Greens being the Greens have decided they’d much rather score virtue signalling points within their own echo-chamber rather than impress the last few percent of possible supporters who would be the ones to get them over the line and into power. These last few percent will not be your typical green members, who naturally will be thrilled to think that at least 10% of the list is Maori and 40% is female, but will rather be attracted by some of the Greens policies and be wondering as election day approaches whether they’re actually fit to govern.

 

Where this gets ridiculous, and frankly nonsensical is at the margins.  The Greens currently have 14 MPs, and if current polling holds up would likely have a similar number after the election.  So, where the rubber hits the road with the list business is roughly around ranks 12 through to about 16 or 17.  These are the folk who may or may not get in depending how the vote goes on the day.  At this stage, if you’re above 12 you’re probably sitting pretty.  So, those ranked 9,10,11 are the privileged ones of the group outside the stars of the top 7 or 8.  If you’re below 17 or so you probably haven’t got a snowball’s chance anyway, whether you’re 18 or 38. The Greens system effectively gives an artificial boost to Maori, younger candidates and women, given that less women and Maori  tend to go into politics and also tend to be less successful at rising to the higher power positions on average, and not many under 35s enter politics.  When members vote, they have to ensure 40% female representation in each group of five candidates and one Maori and one under 35 in each group of ten.   When we look at the final list, we can see how this system has affected the list, and, potentially, the make up of the next government.  In the privileged 9,10, Jack slots we have Chloe Swarbrick (Maungakiekie), female, age 22; Golriz Ghahraman (Te Atatu), a female, originally from Iran; and Mojo Mathers (Rangitata), female, deaf, sitting MP.  Now, I’m sure they’re all very capable, intelligent, etc, but who’s in the vulnerable 12 to 16 slots ? Barry Coates (Epsom); Jack McDonald (Te Tai Hauauru); John Hart (Wairarapa); Denise Roche (Auckland Central; and David Clendon (Northland).  So, four men, three of whom are white, and one white woman. Roche and Clendon are both sitting MPs.  They have to duke it out on the margins, while a 22 year old who looks a shoe-in, and a 23 year old (McDonald), have a better chance than they do.  The point is, without the handicapping system built into the members’ voting system, presumably the results would have been different.  No doubt a typical Green party member would tell us that they’re very happy with this outcome and that this is what they were trying to achieve.  Surely though a sceptical floating voter would think this is nonsense and a great way of promoting the less competent over the more competent.  If it was a business, and the floating voters were the Board of Directors, under pressure to turn the Company around or increase profits, would the Board deliberately tie its’ hands behind its’ back when selecting the executive team ? I don’t think so.