Green Politics and the Reformation of Liberal Democratic Institutions.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Various writers, for example Rudolf Bahro and Arne Naess, have for a long time associated Green politics with an impulse toward deepening democracy. Robert Goodin has further suggested that decentralisation of political authority is an inherent characteristic of Green politics. More recently in New Zealand, speculation has been raised by Stephen Rainbow as to the consequences of the direct democratic impulse for existing representative institutions. This research addresses that question. Examination of the early phase of Green political parties in New Zealand has found that the Values Party advocated institutional restructuring oriented toward decentralisation of political authority in order to enable a degree of local autonomy, and particpatory democracy. As time has gone on the Values Party disappeared and with it went the decentralist impulse, this aspect of Green politics being conspicuously absent in the policy of Green Party Aotearoa/New Zealand, the successor to the Values Party. Since this feature was regarded as synonymous with Green politics, a certain re-definition of Green politics as practised by Green political parties is evident. This point does not exhaust the contribution Green politics makes to democracy however, and the methodology used in this research, critical discourse analysis (CDA), allows an insight into what Douglas Torgerson regards as the benefits in resisting the antipolitical tendency of modernity, of politics for its own sake. This focusses attention on stimulating public debate on fundamental issues, in terms of an ideology sufficiently at variance with that prevalent such that it threatens to disrupt the hegemonic dominance of the latter, thereby contributing to what Ralf Dahrendorf describes as a robust democracy. In this regard Green ideology has much to contribute, but this aspect is threatened by the ambition within the Green Party in New Zealand toward involvement in coalition government. The final conclusion is that the Green Party in New Zealand has followed the trend of those overseas and since 1990 has moved ever closer to a commitment to the institutions of centralised, representative, liberal democracy and this, if taken too far, threatens their ideological integrity.