The Greens’ party membership will soon be voting on how they will move forward in the selection of their Parliamentary Leader on a Federal level. Currently, this is limited, like other parties, to the MPs in the Federal Parliament, with members and other levels of government left out of the decision-making process. This vote, depending on the outcome, could retain the status quo or change the direction of the Greens Party.
There are three options:
- Keep the current system, where only the elected Federal MPs can vote for the Leader.
- A 50/50 system where the Party membership and the Federal team have equal say.
- The “one member = one vote” stance, where the MPs are effectively excluded.
I personally – note, I am not, nor intend on being at this stage, a member of any political party – support the one member one vote position. In a Party that promotes itself as a champion of people-led power and democracy, that the leadership vote denies the wider membership at least a say in who leads their movement is a glaring discrepancy. The MPs should obviously have their voices heard and considered as to who they believe is most suitable and why, but ultimately the direction of the Party should be decided by all, not just those elected to Parliament.
Here in Queensland, I know Brisbane City Councillor Johnathan Sri, State MP Michael Berkman, and others (like my predictably unsuccessful Federal candidate Emerald Moon) are all in favour of this, and have put their names to various open letters and the like.
A 50/50 system would be feasible, if not entirely perfect. The voices of the Party membership would absolutely need to be taken into account when MPs make their own choice, so while it wouldn’t give everyone equal say, there is still a wider participation in the process. It would certainly be a much more preferable option than being completely blocked from having your voice heard.
Bob Brown, Christine Milne, and Richard Di Natale have written in the Guardian that they oppose the latter option, and it very much appears they’d prefer to maintain the current method and keep the choice within Federal Parliament. Their concerns mainly rest on the potential unrest between the team’s dynamic and the membership’s choices, fearing an unstable run of deposing and picking leaders and a divide between the Party and its membership.
I feel these fears can be alleviated or dismissed if the other two options are implemented properly. The 50/50 choice is obvious – even the former leaders have admitted that it would still give the MPs a say. But the issue of having a revolving door of leaders would easily be prevented by simply not allowing it to occur on a whim. The ability to dismiss a leader should absolutely be instated, but there are ways to prevent it from being abused.
A leadership vote when the current Leader steps down is obvious, but should the Party wish to depose a Leader for whatever reason – unlikely, in my view, seeing as the Greens have been a stable Party for many years – then simple checks can be put in place. For starters, limit how often it can happen, with exceptions for emergency or overwhelming backlash. If a leader is chosen, set them a term for X number of years and implement another vote, allowing for shifts to come naturally.
If something happens that causes the Party to revolt or rise up in factions (always possible), then make the toppling of a Leader something that requires a large majority vote to initiate. If over 50%, or even 60% if you want a higher threshold, of the membership call for a leadership vote, then allow it. If only 20% want to stir up tensions, then unfortunate as it is for them in such a system, they can’t spark a leadership vote.
It seems relatively easy in my mind, especially for a Party that has much respect for its elected officials and faith in its leadership, to avoid a fate of disarray, and such tenuous arguments are not convincing enough to deny the wider membership from participating in a more democratic system with their Party. Chances are in either scenario, after Di Natale stepped down, Bandt was bound to win the leadership. It can only be a positive to have these decisions backed and consolidated with the will of the membership – the people.
Like this? Read my previous piece on this when Di Natale first stepped down: Greens Leadership Vote Lacking
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