Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch
Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

The BulletinJuly 25, 2022

How unexpected was the vote against James Shaw’s re-election?

Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch
Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

Marama Davidson said she was shocked and saddened by the decision but signals had been sent earlier by members of the party’s youth wing, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in The Bulletin.


James Shaw not re-elected as co-leader

“Shocked” seemed to be the word of the day after news broke on Saturday that James Shaw had not been re-elected as co-leader of the Green Party at the party’s annual conference. Thirty-two out of 107 delegates voted to vacate Shaw’s position, more than the 25% threshold necessary under the Greens’ rules. Nominations for the co-leader role are open this week and another vote will be held in a month. Shaw is said to be taking soundings about his support in the party and leaning towards running again. Writing on The Spinoff, Toby Manhire has suggested that perhaps it should not have been such a shock. “That Shaw and Davidson were so blindsided suggests they need to do better at keeping their ears to the ground.”

Members of youth wing said no-confidence vote was coming in mid July 

Manhire references a story from Salient, Victoria University’s student magazine, which The Spinoff reported on July 11, that revealed members of the Green Party’s youth wing were set to hold a vote of no-confidence in Shaw. One member suggested current Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono would make a good replacement. The general sense of unhappiness about Shaw’s leadership comes from party members who feel Shaw has not pushed hard enough for more significant climate change policy. This sentiment has been echoed by former Green Party MPs Sue Bradford and Catherine Delahunty this weekend.

Speculation about whether Chlöe Swarbrick will make a run

Green Party MPs aren’t currently talking to the media but speculation has started about whether MP for Auckland Central, Chlöe Swarbrick, will consider running. In May this year, the Green Party changed its constitution to no longer require a male co-leader. In April, Matthew Hooton wrote (paywalled) that it set the stage for Swarbrick to join Davidson as a co-leader. The Herald’s Claire Trevett outlines (paywalled) Swarbrick’s likely courses of action, while pointing out that instability within the Green Party presents problems for Labour, who on current polling will need the Greens to govern.

Activist, outsider movement versus conventional electoral strategy

Division within green parties isn’t limited to New Zealand. This backgrounder from the Council on Foreign Relations on green politics across the globe outlines the philosophical rift between those who see green politics as an activist, outsider movement and those who prefer a more conventional electoral strategy. Andrea Vance’s piece on the changing nature of political campaigning references the rise of a new class of voters who are well-educated and affluent but care about the environment. As yet, we don’t have a Teal movement in New Zealand. Stuff’s Luke Malpass highlight’s Shaw’s credentials as a “middle class, unthreatening and eminently credible leader” as the reason he is the party’s prime political asset.

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