I've written this post over the last two weeks, as the idea of National working with the Greens keeps coming up. While the last election showed us that they were the two favorites of the election (both receiving record party vote numbers and astonishing pre-election poll results), the calls for them to work together probably won't work.
No One Likes First Equal
Pundits have harped on about the Nats and Greens working together for the sake of both the environment and the economy, which is nice to think both are not mutually exclusive. The practicality of this is low, since both have very separate policies on both issues, and would struggle to find middle ground. If people like a combination of both, National could simply adopt aspects of the Green's environmental policies (especially the river cleanup policy, which was a cornerstone of the campaign), and avoid having to work with Catherine Delahunty.
The public perception that they were big winners is a fallacy to think they are the most popular two. National is the governing party for a reason, with the votes of coalition partners added; more than half of Kiwi voters wanted a John Key-led government. National cleaned out this election, and its people and policy was deemed the most fit to govern. People that voted Greens vehemently OPPOSED most of National's policies, they vandalized National's billboards because they disagreed with the policy so much. Being at different ends of the political spectrum, having completely different viewpoints, would not make for a very co-operative government.
What Could They Get Done?
Never mind what the collaboration of talent, experience, and resources could do; think realistically what could they achieve working together. Not much. Consider the amount of arguing and conflict between parties. Then imagine the infighting within each party, as disagreements over direction and policy takes place between colleagues. Then imagine the support each party would receive from their loyal supporters, as both National and the Greens would be perceived as betraying their values and principles, losing both a lot of funding, resources, respect, and ultimately votes later on.
Knowing that the Greens received 13 seats against National's 60 seats, every Green member would be outnumbered 5 to 1 by Nats. The imbalance of power would have the Greens comparatively powerless against the National Party, who could easily dominate the discussion over policies. Realistically, think of Steven Joyce, and how he could ruthlessly whip the Greens into line on the promise of some support years down the track. No one would be impressed.
Government or Opposition
Whale Oil today mentioned in a post about the Greens being eternally left out of government business. Would they benefit from being taken seriously in government? Naturally, they'd pair up with Labour, and together they'd waste lots of money and make lots of stuff ups. But naturally, the Greens prefer to be in opposition where they can make a strong case against policies they find destructive, such as their stance on mining and exploration. The Greens have been very successful in the recent election where they have put forward a very (comparatively) constructive case, where policies were focussed on what they would do rather than Labour and what they wouldn't do.
Another point would be one of democracy, combining the two parties and ignoring National's usual coalition partners, would create a 73 seat government, and a force to be reckoned with. Knowing that ACT would unlikely sit with Labour, the opposition to such a government would be very weak and the usual check on government power would be ineffective.
Even though National and the Greens appear to be the most popular and relevant parties today, they are usually opposing each other, and both stand for quite different things. This makes it difficult to co-operate as a coalition and would prove an ineffective partnership. The thought of Steven Joyce and Catherine Delahunty working together would make both parties cringe. This parliamentary term, with the Greens largest caucus ever, will be a test to see whether they can be effective and stable in parliament, proving themselves as a competent governing party by being a very competent opposition.