Greens concerned over ‘big differences in policy’ with SNP

Patrick Harvie says his party would likely be willing to explore forming a coalition with the SNP but concerns remain.

The Green Party would likely be willing to “explore options” to form a coalition with the Scottish National Party but concerns remain over “big differences in policy”, the party’s co-leader said on Saturday.

Patrick Harvie, who finished in second place in the Glasgow Kelvin constituency, said it would be up to the national party council to decide on the best route forward.

Under the internal rules of the Scottish Greens, members would have to approve any coalition agreement.

Harvie said: “The opposition parties don’t get to decide (on forming a coalition with the government).

“What we’ve said all along and I’ll say it again is it would be a democratic decision for my party. We’re always willing to talk to the government.

“It would be a decision for our national party council, it wouldn’t be for me to dictate.

“My guess is that the party council would be willing to talk and to explore what the options are but we would be concerned about some of the big differences in policy.

“What would the SNP be willing to give ground on – on issues like transport, land reform, areas where we’ve not seen a green agenda in the broader sense – a small green agenda or a big green agenda – being pursued by the Scottish Government, so the question would be, yes for us, but more to the point would be for the government, what would they be willing to give ground on?”

Earlier on Saturday, a Greens source told the PA news agency there are currently “no plans” for talks between the SNP and Scottish Greens on a possible coalition.

The chances of an SNP majority at Holyrood dropped significantly on Saturday after the party failed to take Aberdeenshire West from the Conservatives.

Throughout the election campaign, members of both parties were asked about a possible coalition in the event of no majority being secured and leaders on either side did not outright reject the idea.

Just minutes after the announcement of the Aberdeenshire West result, a source in the Greens told the PA news agency there were “no plans” for talks between the two parties.

However, the chances could increase when the final results are known.

In April, Harvie said there could be sticking points that would have to be addressed before Green members would vote to back a coalition agreement.

He said: “I suspect a lot of our members would be willing for us to have the conversation, but I think there would be a really challenging issue around taxation policy, around oil and gas policy, and around a lot of those transport policies that have been going in the wrong direction.”

Also speaking during the election campaign, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “We have worked with the Greens in Budget negotiations for the duration of the Parliament that has just passed, so I know we can work with the Greens on that kind of basis.

“There have been no discussions between the SNP and the Greens about anything more formal than that, and until the election is over that would remain a hypothetical issue.”

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