The Greens before started as an environment based movement, they had nothing of interest to offer the general public, and they sat at the sidelines of politics wearing hippy tie-dye t-shirts. The next phase was what we call the Watermelon Greens - all green and nature focused on the outside, red as Stalin on the inside. They sided with Labour almost exclusively, campaigning for the government to look after poor people, the environment, and themselves in the name of shafting anyone making more than $60k per year.
A renewal of sorts has taken place for the Greens. This election year they appear more mainstream, friendly, pragmatic, and most of all - popular. They've kept a lot of the watermelon policy, but rebranded themselves in a far less arrogant way. Even if one member was absolutely bent on staying a watermelon and refusing to cooperate with National, the rest of the party is gaining immensely from appearing far more pragmatic and willing to work for people, not politics. Successful policies such as tax credits for insulating houses have shown they can work with whoever they need to get the job done, with policies and plans that can fit into a market economy and benefit everyone who needs the help.
Even the Young Greens appear to take a more practical and friendly outlook. I spoke to one at Britomart Country Club for the Back Benches debate about the Auckland CBD rail link. The project is near unanimously supported on the left, while the right is more skeptical, especially because of the use of government expenditure and ownership. The Young Green's member I spoke to said the problem with the rail link is that it is a natural monopoly that belongs in government ownership, but even she agreed it should be privately managed to get the most efficiency out of it.
It's this kind of pragmatism that's winning votes. New Zealanders by and large are concerned about the environment, concerned about how the lower classes are faring in the economy, and concerned about our country's future. Not to say that other parties don't do this, but especially from a leftist perspective; the Greens are offering a very realistic and yet optimistic approach to these issues, one that can work with other parties and can be more effective than the Labour Party's back-to-the-future union-serving policies. The VRWC has allowed the Greens to join in a VRWNLLC to quietly undermine Labour with better policy, better image, better people, and better solutions. No wonder Labour is losing badly, and the Greens are making a killing in the polls. They have far more relevance, enthusiasm, and energy; which their policies also reflect. The Greens are expected to get 8% of party votes, and some are predicting 10% and up.
They appear more fiscally responsible than Labour too, with recent news saying they too have criticized Labour for their fiscal policy, which is a fantastic look from the perspective of centrist voters. Their green economy plan was proven by ACT to be miscalculated, but the idea was almost there, capitalizing on the need for New Zealand to grow an export-led high-value technology sector, which I've argued for a long time.
I had huge respect for Rod Donald and Keith Locke before, and have been impressed with Metiria Turei (Green-1, Dunedin North) since I first met her in 2009. If they continue this trend for next election, the outdated Labour Party might lose ground to the Greens, who might lead the center left in 2014. Russell Norman (Green-2, Rongotai) is still boring, Catherine Delahunty (Greens-4, Coromandel) is a feminazi, and their policy is still too left for my taste. Nonetheless, things are looking good for the Greens.