Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Greens to make advances in 2007.

Over the weekend I spoke to Green party friends in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Each of them mentioned the campaigning they are doing as they face important elections during 2007. As I reflected on the conversations afterwards I was struck by the promise that 2007 holds in store for the Green party and the potentially huge advances the various Green parties in these islands could make.

In the last Scottish Parliament elections the Green party made stunning gains to go from 1 seat to 7. It is difficult to predict how well the Scottish Greens might do in this year’s election but most reasonable polls (see this summary) show them winning around 6%, 7% or 8%. In the real election those levels of support should see the party retaining its current seats as well as challenging in at least the two regions (Central and West) where they currently have none. Obviously even a small dip in support in particular areas could see a seat lost in any region but overall I think there’s good reason to believe that the Scottish Greens will return with up to 10 seats. Whether the Green Party result is enough to see aspects of the manifesto implemented by the government will depend on other factors – principally whether the parliamentary arithmetic dictates that the grouping with most seats needs Green Party votes to survive confidence votes and get its budget passed.

The Irish Green party is also hoping to build on impressive gains in their last election. Good poll ratings seem to indicate that the Greens have a very good chance of returning each of their outgoing TDs. As well as that they are challenging strongly in constituencies like Wicklow, Galway West and Carlow / Kilkenny as well as a number of Dublin seats. The Irish Green party could easily return to the Dáil with 8 or more TDs. Again the chances of Green party policies being incorporated in the programme of the incoming government depends on the performance of the other parties. Given poll ratings and other factors it is difficult to see the current governing coalition of Fianna Fáil / Progressive Democrats holding on. If they don’t and Bertie Ahern wants to remain as Taoiseach he may well turn to independents, Labour or the Green party for support (probably in that order of preference for him). If he cannot form a government then the alternative coalition of Fine Gael / Labour will have won and they will definitely require Green party support to form a government.

Events in Northern Ireland over the next few days will determine whether Assembly elections will proceed. At stake is not simply the formation of a government but prospects for a lasting peace. I’m sure everyone is hoping for a successful outcome. If elections do go ahead then the Green party will be standing and confident in its chances of winning a first seat on this body - possibly in North Down or South Down.

The Green Party has not made a breakthrough in the Wales Assembly yet and will be hoping to put that right this year. The reason there has been no breakthrough so far is because the threshold for getting into the Wales Assembly is tougher than the other elections I’ve spoken about. However support for the Green party has been growing strongly for some years – hopefully by enough to see a first Green Assembly member.

I wish my friends and colleagues in each of the parties the very best with their campaigns. Readers might like to get in touch with any of them to see if there’s any support they can offer (I’m sure they never turn down donations!). Don’t forget there are important local elections in England too - I’ll go through my thoughts on Green party prospects in these at a later date.

No comments: