Kia ora koutou
Christopher Wood wrote:
>> A good argument against my question: http://falkvinge.net/2012/04/09/we-are- ... the-world/
Falkvinge makes an interesting comment in that article:
>> We failed to convert these votes into votes in the general elections a year later because of a very simple reason – that we didn’t have a full political platform. Answering “we have no opinion on that issue” for nine out of ten policy questions wasn’t good enough. People wouldn’t vote for parties that didn’t, not in a general election, and there was no way the Piratpartiet could expand its policies by the necessary magnitude between the 2009 and 2010 elections. <<
This would actually seem to support Christopher's argument that building a 'Bright Green wing' of the Greens is more politically realistic than running as a separate party. However, there might be another way to assemble a more rounded policy platform, and build enough support to get above the 5% threshold .
I've been talking to activists from a number of other parties who have the same problem - they specialize in specific policy areas, and are made up of activists and supporters from diverse places on the traditional political spectrum. Eco-radicals, liberal leftists and libertarian capitalists are equally likely to support the Pirates, and the same is true for the Cannabis Party, which makes forming policy outside the area of commonality (eg information freedom or drug law reform) difficult. A number of other small parties struggle with similar problems. Perhaps the solution is to form a pre-election coalition, a federation of parties, allowing voters to support a number of these small parties with one vote?
Obviously, the idea of a coalition of parties campaigning for one vote is not new in kiwi politics either. The Alliance did the same thing in an attempt to break the duopoly of the two major parties under FPP. Arguably one of the lasting legacies of the Alliance was to highlight the need for MMP, which has since allowed the various constituencies that supported them to vote a number of other smaller parties into office (most notably the Greens, although the Maori Party could be seen as a successor to Alliance member Mana Motuhake, NZ First now has the votes of many conservative socialists who might once have supported New Labour etc).
Perhaps a new federation could make a similar contribution by campaigning for something they would all benefit from, the removal of the 5% threshold? Like FPP, the 5% threshold pressures people to vote for the established party they loath the least, rather than the party which truly represents their values. It acts as a damper on the formation and maintenance of smaller parties, and thereby on democratic participation, the results of which can be seen in the huge non-vote in 2011.
Probably the biggest mistake the Alliance made was to pressure its member parties to dissolve into a single party apparatus (which NewLabour and the Liberals did). This resulted in many of the member parties going their own way instead, taking blocks of members, funding, and votes with them, and the post-merger Alliance languished. Instead a federation should encourage member parties to keep their own separate memberships and organisational structures intact. Since parties can choose to quit the federation and go their own way if it doesn't work out for them, there is less to lose by giving it a try. Plus, the networked structure has the added benefits of increasing opportunities for meaningful participation, respecting diversity, and valuing resilience over efficiency (democracy is less efficient than dictatorship, but works better in the long term).
The idea of a joint force is not new in party politics. To be able to offer a comprehensive policy platform you first need to assemble a broad range of people with expertise in different fields under a common vision. Labour began as a united political wing of the unions, and the Greens, when they reformed as a separate party outside the crumbling Alliance, began as a sort of coalition of various activist networks, as you can see from the first crop of Green MPs:
Jeanette Fitzsimons + Rod Donald - Values Party
Ian Ewen-Street - organic agriculture
Sue Bradford - workers and unemployed rights
Sue Kedgley - safe food + toxics awareness
Nandor Tanczos - drug law reform and restorative justice
Keith Locke - peace and anti-surveillance
What's new is the idea of playing politics as a win-win game, rather than sticking to the I-win-you-lose philosophy inherited from the bad old days of FPP. Is the Pirate Party necessary? Yes. Can it achieve parliamentary representation by itself? Not yet. Is there an alternative to giving up and lobbying the Greens? Not that educating the Greens about PP issues is a bad idea (both/ and), but yes! Federation.