Thursday, May 14, 2009

Time for the Green party to call it a day

If the Green party hadn't been so boneheaded four years ago, it might have several MLAs waiting to be sworn in today.
The party's failure to support the single transferable vote in the 2005 referendum is one of the great all-time political bumbles.
Greens would have been the big winners if STV had passed. It has enough support to be sure of winning seats under the system.
Bizarrely, then leader Adriane Carr first fought against STV and then said the party would be neutral.
STV received 58 per cent support in that referendum, just below the 60 per cent needed. An extra 500 yes votes in each riding could have changed the outcome. And a strong Green effort could have delivered those votes.
The Green referendum position reinforces the perception that most parties on the outside, on some level, are happy to be there. The hardcore base equates popular support with ideological weakness. It took Stephen Harper, after all, to drag the Reform/Alliance base into the mainstream from its comfy, crabby outsider den.
Carr, now one of two deputy leaders in the federal Green party, wanted a different form of electoral reform - a mixed member proportional system. That would see two kinds of MLAs. Some would be elected from constituencies and then others would be appointed, from lists proposed by the parties, to ensure the legislature reflected the popular vote.
The system is widely used in other countries and has its own strengths and weaknesses.
But the Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform didn't recommend it. The members, after months of study, thought STV was a better choice for B.C. That's what was on the ballot.
Carr initially threatened to throw the party into the battle against STV. After some internal wrangling, the Greens decided to remain neutral.
No one can know whether Green support could have tipped the balance. I think it would have.
This time, the Greens took eight per cent of the vote. That could have produced three seats under STV.
Earlier this year, polls had the party as high as 16 per cent. Many of those people abandoned the party because they judged a Green vote would be wasted. They decided that it was better to back a Liberal or NDP candidate. Or to stay home.
With STV, they would have stayed with the party, which could have meant more Green MLAs.
And then, of course, there are the other impacts. What high-profile candidates might have come forward to run for the Greens if they had a real chance of being elected?
But that chance was thrown away. STV fell just short in 2005 and was soundly rejected this time.
Which leads to a question. Is it time for the Green party to dissolve, at least as a party running candidates?
Leader Jane Sterk got 17 per cent of the vote in her riding, the best Green showing. She finished third. The party's overall support fell again, as it did in the last election.
It's hard to see the point of running for office if there is no hope of being elected. And equally hard to see the point of voting Green, particularly when that costs you a chance to have a say in the battle between the two main parties.
British Columbians, in rejecting STV, have opted for a two-party system. Greens could have influence by joining the Liberals or New Democrats and pushing their issues. They could become a voting bloc and support a party or candidates that back their goals.
Otherwise, they're going to a lot of trouble for an opportunity to be in candidates' forums.
And they are choosing not to have a voice in deciding who represents them and which party governs.
Certainly, the Green party can keep raising issues. But by failing to fight for STV in 2005, they lost any hope of electing MLAs. The party seems, if not pointless, at least an ineffective way to bring change.
Footnote: If Green voters had shifted to the Liberals or New Democrats, the outcome could have been much different - from an NDP majority government to a more dominant Liberal one. There were 18 races close enough that Green votes, redistributed, could have changed the outcome.

6 comments:

DPL said...

The STV idea went nowhere. The greens might be better by backing a party that might actually have concerns about the things they rattle on about. So it's now crunch time. Do the greens take any funding they can get and keep squandering it? Do the STV folks call it a day. will the sun come up in the east?

seth said...

Greenies for Gordo - Postscript

If the Greenie vote had collapsed and gone NDP the seat count would have been Gordo 38 ndp 47.

More realistically, from Angus Reid's last preelection poll:

“uncertain Green voters are twice as likely to list the NDP as their second choice (36%) than the BC Liberals (17%)”

If we run these numbers (69/31) riding by riding through the latest results we get Liberals 45 ND 40 assuming a simple collapse in the Green vote - say all the Greenies withdrawing their candidacies. However if the Green's and NDP had come to some kind of Israeli type accommodation, which presumably would have included the NDP espousing some form of carbon tax Reids 69/31 vote split would only have had to change to 76/34 for an NDP/Green coalition win.

The NDP forgot that that Green voters are mostly idiots who haven't had an original thought all their lives and when a mainstream media celib says something it must be true. DaGucci. Berman, Weaver, Pembina and Harcourt must be permanently ostracized from the Green and progressive movements and if possible financially ruined by their odious sellout.

Had somebody in the NDP campaign beaten some sense into Carole James and/or Gerry Scott, they would had realized that the Green factor was the key to a win and dumped the carbon tax thing right away. That Campbell's carbon tax was simply a method of funneling campaign donation kickbacks to humongous bank and had utterly no effect on carbon consumption was logic. Despite their love of Spock, the fevered mind of a Greenie is utterly incapable of logical thought. How a person could claim support for the Green platform and/or the environment could vote BCLiberal is so incredibly stupid as to defy description.

The Green's are universally despised in the US after their leader Ralph Nader elected George Bush and sent the greatest Green politician the world has known Al Gore to the sidelines. The NDP need to study how progressive leaders decimated the American Green party.
______________________________________________
str8
While progressives absolutely need to support, Alexandra in her/our fight, we need to work hard to eliminate the odious presence of the Green party from the electoral map.

Progressives forgot that that Green voters are mostly idiots who haven't had an original thought all their lives and when a mainstream media celib says something it must be true. DaGucci. Berman, Weaver, Pembina and Harcourt must be permanently ostracized from the Green and progressive movements and if possible financially ruined by their odious sellout.

Had somebody in the NDP campaign beaten some sense into Carole James and/or Gerry Scott, they would had realized that the Green factor was the key to a win and dumped the carbon tax thing right away. That Campbell's carbon tax was simply a method of funneling campaign donation kickbacks to humongous bank and had utterly no effect on carbon consumption was logic. Despite their love of Spock, the fevered mind of a Greenie is utterly incapable of logical thought. How a person could claim support for the Green platform and/or the environment could vote BCLiberal is so incredibly stupid as to defy description.

The Green's are universally despised in the US after their leader Ralph Nader elected George Bush and sent the greatest Green politician the world has known Al Gore to the sidelines. The NDP need to study how progressive leaders decimated the American Green party

Big T from PG said...

What about the other dozen parties in BC (especially the SEX party and the Less Work Party)... should they pack it in? I find it encouraging that 1 in every 12.5 people (8%) who voted were passionate and idealistic enough about Green economics/sustainable development, etc. to use their precious vote on an unelectable candidate. On the other hand, good point about being comfortable on the fringe... maybe the Greens would get more bang for the buck by doing what Paul suggests.

seth said...

I suggest all greenish sort of progressives join the Green Party en mass and at the next convention vote for a resolution and leadership to end the party's participation in elections.

A duplicate effort on the federal side is also urgent as we must try to stop the well meaning fools who somehow control the federal party before an imminent federal election

Bernard von Schulmann said...

With less choice on the ballot, the voter turn out will go lower. The majority of the Green voters will not vote if there is no Green on the ballot.

Neither the Liberals nor the NDP are close to the Greens in policy, so removing them makes no sense.

Can a Green get elected in the current system? Certainly, Vicki Huntingdon almost won in Delta South. Gordon Wilson was re-elected as a defacto independent.

The BC Liberals had less support than the Greens do now in 1986 and managed to win seats in 1991.

I also believe that we need to see a strong Conservative party running in BC. It is not good for our politics to only have a left wing and centre party represented in the legislature.

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