One of the virtues of MMP is that it is supposed to lead to more consensus.
In reality it requires more compromise as Chris Trotter points out:
. . . It is entirely unrealistic for a political party to join a coalition government without first acknowledging the inevitability of compromise. This is especially true if the party in question attracted fewer votes, and thus has fewer seats, than its prospective partner. The larger party cannot be expected to re-order its policy priorities or sacrifice its leading personnel merely to keep its junior partner happy. To do so would attract – and merit – universal scorn.
Such are the brutal realities of coalition politics. Parties either accept them – and become genuine players in the political game. Or, they reject them and remain permanent political spectators.
It is really only the world’s Green parties which struggle to accept these largely self-evident rules. As the ideological offspring of May 1968 (the year in which the great counter-cultural uprising of the world’s youth reached its zenith) the prototypical German Greens eschewed all political hierarchy in favour of “Appropriate Decision-Making” – by which they meant “grass-roots”, “bottom-up”, consensus-based democracy. And this was no mere rhetorical flourish: Greens really do believe that the way they arrive at major decisions is every bit as important as the decisions they make.
All of which lays a heavy burden on the shoulders of Russel Norman and Metiria Turei. Rather than laying claim to portfolios their prospective coalition partners in the Labour Party couldn’t possibly agree to assign them (not without opening up huge divisions within its own ranks) the Greens’ co-leaders should be thinking about how to reconcile their fellow party members’ to the unavoidable compromises of coalition politics.
Because these are likely to be both numerous and unpalatable. On practically every economic and social issue that matters the Greens have positioned themselves well to the left of Labour. That being the case, very few, if any, of the Greens’ preferred solutions to the high dollar, unemployment, child poverty, homelessness, climate change and dirty dairying, will win Labour’s unqualified endorsement. . .
It’s not just minor parties which have to compromise, major ones do too.
But a party which attracts more votes has a greater mandate and therefore a case for less compromise than one which attracts fewer.
Getting into government is a challenge for all parties, so is staying there.
Any which doesn’t accept the political reality of the need to compromise will find it even harder.