The Greens made a good choice in not standing a candidate in the Northland by-election but the win from Winston and NZF is not good news for them.
I like the Green Party and I'd be happy if they were dominant in Parliament but they aren't and they have some major issues to sort out notwithstanding Winston's win. They have to elect a new co-leader and that is a big one. Russel Norman is a very effective co leader - I have had issues with some of what he has said in the past but he does have gravitas and he speaks with authority. He can and does take the fight directly to National and he can look them in the eye with disdain whilst asking the hard questions. He will be very hard to replace and his replacement will have a very big job on their hands.
The Greens have a dilemma in that they have an eternal internal battle about what their kaupapa is. Yes the environment but social policy and economic policy are currently welded in there to. Some want them to concentrate on the environment and be available to work with both Labour and National - this would make them palatable to the 'middle' and dispel the meme that they are kooky, and others want a broad left approach to the issues of social and economic policy so that they remain true to their traditional constituency. The last election result where they at best held their ground provides reinforcement for both ideals and I don't know the answers or what they should do to be honest. I'm not sure what will move the balance and create momentum for a bigger presence in Parliament. You'd think that public self interest with the looming global issue of the effects of climate change and peak oil would guarantee votes for them but with the clamor of voices saying it's 'business as usual' shows that the basic drive for self preservation isn't being felt. Will it take a calamity, a disaster to move people? Probably, but by then it will be too late.
If NZF and Winston goes head to head with labour and National for the middle movable votes and achieves success then the Greens have a big problem electorally. NZF will cut the Greens out. If they become dominant they will cut them out directly, if, after the war of attrition, Labour retains it's position as the big 'left' party they will need the Greens but on their terms not the Greens terms and history has shown that Labour and the Greens aren't the buddy/buddy team that they could be. For the Greens to have influence they must get the votes and a 4 way competition for the 'middle' isn't going to give them those votes. The 'middle ' is not the solution, the 'middle' is the problem.
So big issues for the Greens that I hope they can resolve and become the force they need to be - the election of Winston Peters in Northland is not good for the Greens, not even slightly.