NZ Greens endorse Alliance
AUCKLAND — Green Party delegates voted by a large majority to formally join the third-party Alliance at a national conference in the city of Nelson. The May 10 vote was 54-11, more than the 75% majority required under the Greens' rules. Fewer than 10% of the delegates voted against joining the Alliance.
The Greens had already participated in several Alliance campaigns following a decision of the party's leadership, but the conference decision was necessary to formally join the group, which consists of the Labour Party breakaway NewLabour, the Democrats (similar to the Australian Democrats) and Mana Motuhake (the main Maori party). A National Party breakaway, the Liberals, is expected to be admitted to the Alliance by the end of May.
"We are not a third choice any more, we are a new choice", said NewLabour leader Jim Anderton after the Greens' vote. Anderton says the Alliance has a fighting chance of winning in as many as 58 out of 97 seats in a national election. The Alliance's chances of electoral success could be dramatically improved by a non-binding referendum on the electoral system in September. Proportional representation will be among the four choices put to the voters. The result is expected to guide the process of electoral reform.
Alliance candidates have already won several important local government by-elections, and took more than 40% of the vote in a by-election for former National prime minister Robert Muldoon's seat of Tamaki. The group is planning a strong campaign in the Auckland city council elections in October.
Greens national spokesperson Jon Field is confident "we can make this a very green alliance", but some elements of the conference minority have not ruled out forming a new party.
Tasmanian Green Independent MPs Christine Milne and Gerry Bates are reported to have warned against joining the Alliance in advance of the conference, and plans are going ahead for a tour by some of the Tasmanian Independents in July.