12 reasons National lost Northland

March 29th, 2015 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

There is no one reason why National lost Northland. I’ve identified a dozen contributing factors. However they are not of equal significance. Some were very powerful, and others had some impact around the margins. They are:

  1. Winston. I doubt any other candidate could have taken the seat off National. It’s a vote for him as much as a vote against National.
  2. By-election. By-elections often go against the incumbent Government, as this Stuff article shows, and third parties often do well. In fact 49 years ago Social Credit won the seat, then called Hobson.
  3. Mike Sabin. The circumstances of his resignation were a factor. But even before that, there was growing discontent in some circles over his performance – especially when compared to the ultra-enthusiastic John Carter, his predecessor.
  4. The bridge upgrade promise. This backfired massively (ONCB poll said overall made people less likely to vote National) as it looked like a response to Peters. Peters got credited with the bridges, and National lost some credibility. If there was a case for doing the bridge upgrades they should have been announced before Peters was a candidate, and it should have been a Government announcement. Trying to credit the decision to the lobbying of the local candidate (who could not name them all) was insulting the intelligence of the public.
  5. The candidate. Mark Osbourne, if he had won, would be a very good MP for Northland. But National made the mistake of selecting the person they thought would be the best MP, not the person who could best beat Winston Peters.
  6. National’s campaign. The campaign appeared to be run from Wellington or Auckland, not Northland. This was, in my opinion, a mistake. National HQ is very very good at running national campaigns, but less so at electorate level campaigns. In a by-election of course the party HQ will be far more involved, but that doesn’t mean running the entire thing. I heard a lot of complaints that locals felt disengaged and being treated like staff, not volunteers. There wasn’t even a local campaign committee, or a local campaign chair. And when I asked who was running the campaign, I got told three different names.
  7. Winston’s campaign. Winston campaigned well. He never had a melt down, or an angry rant against the media. It was back to charming Winston, not angry Winston. And the bus was a superb idea. Would not have worked in say Napier, but in a large seat with so many small towns, it created a buzz whenever it pulled up.
  8. No downside to voting Winston. National failed to clearly and consistently articulate a reason to not vote Winston. This was always going to be quite challenging, but voters say they could have their cake and eat it too – a National led Government, and Winston as a high profile local MP. National needed to more aggressively remind people that Peters has destroyed pretty much every Government he has been in.
  9. Neglected Northland. Northland felt neglected. Actually most provincial areas feel neglected – and this is regardless of who is in Government. It is a sad reality that provincial areas almost always are losing people to the larger urban centres, and they feel central Government is not in touch so much. National has overall done very well in staying connected to provincial NZ, but there is always an under-current of feeling neglected that can be exploited.
  10. The polls. Winston was very fortunate that the two initial TV polls were done just days after National selected Osborne. Of course a brand new candidate would not poll well initially. If the initial polls had occured say a week later, then they might not have shown Peters ahead or tied, and not given him so much momentum. Polls can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  11. Late start. With the benefit of hindsight, National should have started campaigning much earlier, and selected a candidate earlier. A three to four week period to select the candidate was too long. The Board should have set a 7 – 10 day timeframe for a rushed process, so the candidate could have had six to seven weeks to campaign, not four. Also the entire campaign apparatus should have sprung into operation the day after Sabin resigned. It looks like it mostly didn’t until after the selection. Some stuff you can’t do until you have a candidate, but not others.
  12. Tactical Voting. This had a major effect as seen by the Labour candidate getting less than 5%. It didn’t change the result, but it did impact the margin greatly. Labour did in Northland what they condemned National doing in Epsom and Ohariu – and it worked. Which is why  parties do it.

The challenge from National is to learn from this. It needs to be humble, and admit that they made mistakes. There were some factors they could not control, but some they could. They also need to show at a national level, that they are avoiding third termitis.

Some on the left will claim this is the beginning of the end. Well they’ve been claiming that for around six years. The polls in Northland showed the party vote had not moved much. However it is the first significant loss in pretty much a decade, and may have a symbolic impact. The challenge to National is to acknowledge that Northland was sending a message, and that past performance is not enough for future elections.

Also the party should review the by-election campaign with the same thoroughness as the review done after the 2002 election. Learning from mistakes is how you win in politics.

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Northland Provisional Results

March 29th, 2015 at 8:27 am by David Farrar

The candidates in order were:

  1. Peters 54.0% 15,359
  2. Osborne 39.9% 11,347
  3. Prime 4.6% 1,315
  4. Carr 0.4% 107
  5. Herbert 0.3% 85
  6. Grieve 0.2% 66
  7. Porter 0.2% 55
  8. Painting 0.1% 38
  9. Rogan 0.1% 22
  10. Bonner 0.1% 17
  11. Holland 0.0% 14

A massive victory to Winston, inline with the polls.

The margin is 14% overall, but of interest is that in advance voting it was only 11.3% while for voting on the day it was 16.5%.

Of the 97 booths, Peters won 82 and Osborne just 15.

Of the larger booths Osborne did best in Kerikeri, winning there by 4.5%. Also did well in Paihia and Wellsford.

Peters won by a massive 36.7% margin in Kaikohe, 29.0% in Kaitaia and 23.0% in Dargaville.

The size of the victory is such that New Zealand First must be favoured to hold it in 2017, wither with Peters as the candidate, or with Shane Jones.

Not all bad news for National though. The polls showed National still had close to 50% support in the party vote. So having the NZ First Leader in a seat that strongly votes National in the party vote makes it somewhat less likely he’s going to put the Greens into Government anytime soon,

 

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Northland Results

March 28th, 2015 at 7:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m out at dinner and a play tonight so won’t be updating with results, but feel free to update and comment in the comments.

 

UPDATE: Peters already ahead by 1200 on advance votes. Looks like he is going to win easily, as the polls predicted.

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The five nominees for National in Northland

February 15th, 2015 at 12:53 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

National says the nominees will go before Northland party members before the final selection on February 28.

The nominees are Mita Harris, Matt King, Grant McCallum, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

“While the Northland electorate has been held by the National Party for many years, by-elections traditionally see lower turnouts and smaller margins. We will not be taking Northland for granted,” party president Peter Goodfellow says.

Mita Harris is the Chair of the Northland Conservation Board. A member of Ngapuhi, he stood for National in 2008. He is involved in numerous heritage, recreation and conservation projects in Northland.

Matt King is a local farmer, businessman and former police detective. He sought the nomination in 2011, and runs a private investigations company.

Grant McCallum is a local diary farmer and an elected board member on National’s Board of Directors.

Mark Osborne is the general manager of the Te Ahu Trust.

Karen Rolleston has stood for National in previous elections. She is the CEO of 3P Learning, and lives in Kumeu.

I’d say Karen and Grant are the front runners but all five candidates are credible and strong, and it will come down to the 120 local delegates, as they meet them and hear from them over the next fortnight.

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Northland By-election dates

February 2nd, 2015 at 5:11 pm by David Farrar

The dates are:

  • Writ Day Mon 23 February
  • Nominations close Tue 3 March
  • Advance voting starts Wed 11 March
  • E-Day Sat 28 March
  • Official results Wed 8 April
  • Writ returned Tue 14 April

Until the 14th of April National will have 59 MPs in a Parliament of 120. To pass laws they’ll need two additional votes which will means both Act and United Future – or the Maori Party.

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When will the Northland by-election be?

January 31st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Governor-General must issue a writ for the by-election within three weeks of the resignation (s129(2)). So the writ could be issued anytime between Monday 2 and Friday 20 February.

The writ must be returned within 50 days (s 139(4)) so that is between Tuesday 24 March and Thu 9 April.

The polling day must be 20 to 27 days after nominations close (s139(2). And while not specified in statute it has to be at least 12 days before the writ must be returned, to allow time for special votes. Nomination day by convention is a Tuesday.

The earliest date for the by-election would be Saturday 28 February. The last feasible date would be Saturday 28 March.

I look forward to the bye-election with the Labour candidate campaigning on Labour’s policy to scrap the Puhoi to Wellsford expressway and divert the funds into Auckland public transport. It is such an unpopular policy up North that even Kelvin Davis has attacked it. But in a by-election, you can’t have a candidate campaigning on different policy to the party, so it will be interesting to see if Labour scraps their policy.

 

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Guest Post: By-election analysis

December 9th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by Kiwi in America on the Christchurch East by-election:

Labour and mainstream media commentators have said that the results in the Christchurch East by-election were bad for National and a negative portent for 2014. This analysis of the Christchurch East by-election compares the voter turnout and individual party’s performance compared to the three most recent general electorate by-elections. By-elections (BE) are unusual for a variety of reasons:

  • There is no party vote, only a candidate vote and so candidate personalities assume far greater significance than in General Election (GE) campaigns because in a GE, only the Party vote matters. A poor candidate fielded in a GE can hide to some extent and ride the party’s national coattails but is more exposed to negative media scrutiny in a BE.
  • Turnout is usually significantly lower in BEs thus changes in support for a particular party or an increase or decrease in turnout achieved by a party against the trend has a disproportionately greater effect
  • Because it is the only election going on, there is an inordinate amount of media focus. Thus particularly unusual local issues that normally might never see the media light of day in a GE assume greater s possibly skewering the result. This was certainly the case with Christchurch East where the issue of the slowness of insurers and the EQC to rebuild damaged homes after the earthquakes is a dominant but very local issue. Christchurch East is ground zero for residential damage in Christchurch having all of the residential red zone in its boundaries.
  • Similarly national issues of political significance can have a bearing on a BE result. A good example of this was National winning the normally reasonably safe Labour seat in the Timaru BE in 1985 because the BE was held right in the middle of the maximum pain inflicted by the implementation of Rogernomics.
  • Interest in BEs from the media, the major parties and thence the voters depend on how safe the seat is and how close the contest is likely to be. Of the 36 BEs since 1960, only one (Wellington Central in 1992) could be considered a marginal seat, the rest occurred in safe or relatively safe Labour or National seats.
  • BE results can be skewered by an emerging third party which lacks the resources to make an impact in a GE but can concentrate their efforts in a BE. There has been a long history of third party upsets (or near upsets) in BEs.
  • Whilst they are often a barometer of support for the government of the day on the day of the BE, they are rarely a bell weather of the fate of the government of the day in the subsequent GE as many bad BE results for incumbent governments are reversed in the next GE.

 Acknowledging these trends and in comparing it with the previous three BEs (all held since National assumed office in 2008), Christchurch East’s result was not exceptional.

Turnout

At 39%, turnout in the Christchurch East BE is at the low end of the scale dropping from 72% in the 2011 GE. However turnout for the Botany BE in 2011 was even lower at 37% (dropping from 72% in the 2008 GE). The Mana BE with a 54% turnout was exceptionally high for a BE. If you measure the total vote in the Christchurch East BE as a percentage of the total vote in the preceding GE, it does represent the worst result (47% versus 49% for Botany, 61% for Mt Albert and 68% for Mana).

Labour’s vote

Labour (and left friendly commentators) have made much of Poto Williams getting 61% of the total vote being a 7% increase from the 54% that Leanne Dalziel got in 2011. However the Christchurch East BE vote for Labour was only 52% of its 2011 GE vote. This was a smaller percentage than the Labour vote achieved in the previous three Bes. In Botany, Labour’s BE vote was a hefty 67% of its 2008 GE vote, in Mana in was 61% of its 2008 GE vote and in Mt Albert it was 65% of its 2008 GE vote.

National’s vote

In the Christchurch East BE National’s share of the vote dropped from 36% to 26% of the vote or 10%. Doocey only managed 34% of the vote that Gilmore got in the 2011 GE. However the Christchurch East result was little different to how National fared in the Mt Albert BE in 2009. This too was a safe Labour seat vacated by a prominent long standing MP. National’s percentage of the vote in the Mt Albert BE dropped to a paltry 17% from its 28% share in the 2008 GE – at 11% a bigger drop than it suffered in Christchurch East. Similarly if you look at the BE vote for National’s Melissa Lee, it was only 36% of the vote compared to what Ravi Musuku achieved against the then sitting Prime Minister Helen Clark in the 2008 GE. Given that Botany was a safe National seat, the comparison with Christchurch East is more difficult to make as the seat profiles are entirely different.

What happened in Mana

Whilst Mana has historically been a safe seat for Labour, Kris Fafoi only managed to eke out a paltry 1,400 vote majority for Labour in the November 2010 BE. Hekia Parata (already a list MP) managed to keep National’s vote at a staggering 80% of its vote in the 2008 GE and increased National’s share of the vote by 6% from 35% to 41% – something quite rare in BE history. Turnout was also very high at 54% of registered voters and 67% of the number who voted in the 2008 GE!

Conclusions

The result in the 2013 Christchurch East BE was very similar to what happened in the 2009 Mt Albert BE. A popular long standing sitting MP vacates a very safe Labour seat. National chose candidates who fought what could only be classified as very average campaigns in each BE. Matthew Doocey is not a rising star in the mould of say Simon Bridges and Melissa Lee, whilst already a List MP, made a number of pratfalls in the Mt Albert campaign. Given the historical trend of the Labour vote in both of these safe Labour seats, National’s head office were not going to devote much in the way of funds or personnel to fighting a hard campaign in seats they were never going to win. Thus the respective GOTV operations of the Doocey and Lee campaigns were largely down to the candidate’s capacity to motivate local National Party members. The importance of the local team the candidate puts together cannot be underestimated. Having fought in a few BEs, the quality and size of the team can make a huge impact on the eventual vote as turnout in BEs is crucial. Hekia Parata’s outstanding result could be put down to her putting together an aggressive and well organized team. Plus, whatever people might think of her skills as Minister of Education, she is a much more formidable campaigner than Doocey or Lee.

On the Labour side, Cunliffe had much to lose if the Christchurch East result was a repeat of the Mana result. Whereas in Mt Albert, Clark’s tenure there attracted some good electorate workers AND the candidate (David Shearer) was a handpicked high riser with an intriguing background with the UN, the Labour team in Mana were poorly organized and it would be fair to say that Winnie Laban had taken the Labour vote for granted in what had been a long standing safe Labour seat. Fafoi thought his media experience and name recognition would be enough but he was an entirely inexperienced candidate so you add a poorly staffed local electorate who had never really had to work hard to elect their MP with a novice campaigner against a crack local team behind an excellent campaigner and you can see how the Mana BE result happened.

Labour’s team needed to lift its game from even the Mt Albert BE because of the need to avoid an embarrassment to its new leader and because National had won the party vote (narrowly) in Christchurch East in 2011. Thus it was that much time and effort was put into Labour’s Christchurch East BE campaign. This began with deliberately siting the 2013 Labour Annual Conference in Christchurch and sending the 500 odd delegates out to canvas for a whole afternoon. As an organizer of canvassing efforts, I know that this would be enough people and time to be able to identify all Labour leaning voters in the electorate (which had 5,000 fewer enrolled voters than in the 2011 GE which in turn was down almost 10,000 enrolled voters on the 2008 GE due to earthquake related out-migration). Enter Jim Anderton, a veteran operative of the left who many may have forgotten was the Labour Party President from 1979 until he took over the Sydenham seat from the retiring and lackluster John Kirk in 1984. Anderton made sure that Labour had an excellent election day GOTV and that was off the back of now accurate canvassing records – something that was difficult to do given the upheaval and movement of people in the electorate since the earthquakes.

In many respects given how much Labour threw at the BE in Christchurch East up against a novice National candidate with zero name recognition in an electorate probably the most hostile to the government than any in the country given the anger and frustration of voters over the insurance related rebuilding delays and infrastructure chaos, this is actually not that bad a result for National. It’s true that Shearer was a ‘sexier’ candidate in Mt Albert than Poto Williams but really in so many ways the Christchurch East BE result was very close to the Mt Albert BE result.  Labour and its cheerleaders have already read too much into the result. National do have cause to be concerned in that its strong party vote showing in Christchurch in 2011 was an integral part of its nationwide winning margin.

In by-elections, getting out your vote is everything. National’s turnout in the 2011 GE was lower than all the polling showed partly because of the teapot tape kerfuffle but also because its soft and low information voters heard the ‘govern alone’ mantra and figured John Key was all good and didn’t need their vote. If National invests in a thorough and extensive nationwide Party vote GOTV effort, they will be able to weather almost any campaign storm that inevitably the left leaning media will throw at them, especially if the economy continues to gather steam and the Christchurch rebuild sees more residential homes targeted.

 Below the break

 be2 be1

 Notes

  1. Only General Electorates were compared so the results of the Maori electorate BEs (Ikaroa Rawhiti on 29 June 2013 and the Te Tau Tokerau on 25 June 2011) were not included in this analysis. The reason is that Maori electorates have a number of features that make them quite different from General Electorates not the least of which is that only Maori can be registered to vote. These differences include vastly larger geographical territories, the existence of parties specifically targeted at Maori that do not run candidates in General Electorates, the lower levels of voter registration and the generally lower levels of voter turnout. These factors combine to make comparison with General Electorates less meaningful.
  2. The comparison is with all General electorate BEs held in the 48th Parliament (2008 to 2011). Given that there were three General Electorate BEs in that period which is an above average number, it enables valid comparisons to be made.
  3. The BE results are only compared with the previous GE especially with respect to the change in the vote for candidates of the respective parties.
  4. Only parties that stood candidates in both the preceding GE, the BE and the subsequent GE (for BEs held in the 48th Parliamentary term) are included in the comparison. The percentage of the vote indicated by each party in each electorate by electorate comparison is of the total electorate votes cast in that particular election. The minor party results are just not analyzed but are part of the total vote.
  5. The comparison is with the ELECTORATE vote in the GE analyzed and not the PARTY vote. The Electoral Commission publishes the total votes for each electorate in GEs in two separate categories (Party then Electorate) whereas in a BE, there is no Party vote to count and so only electorate votes count.
  6. The turnout percentages for GEs are calculated from the total number of Electorate votes cast in the GE (please note that in almost all electorates the total number of Party votes cast can differ from the total number of Electorate votes cast – this is because some voters only exercise one of their entitled votes in the GE). This means that the by-election comparison is an apples to apples comparison. Please also note that for ease of comparison of respective party performance, only the party names are recorded whereas GE Electorate and a BE ballots lists the candidates’ names more prominently than the party affiliation. Likewise the reporting of results at www.elections.govt.nz for the Electorate or BE vote, they also features the candidate names prominently.

In order to accurately determine the voter turnout percentage to be calculated, for all the GE results, the total number of enrolled voters for each electorate came from the Electoral Commission’s published number of enrolled voters eligible to vote in that electorate at that election. For the BEs, the total number of enrolled voters for the BE was taken from media kits released for the specific BE by the Electoral Commission. The exception was the Mt Albert BE where no BE total enrolment figure was released in the media kit. In order to approximate that figure, the increase in enrolled voters in Mt Albert between the 2008 and 2011 GEs was halved and then added to the 2008 enrolment total on the premise that the voting population of the electorate was rising slightly over time and that the size of the roll at the time of the BE was somewhat between the roll of the GEs on either side. Given that the roll increased by only 772 voters, this approximation does not mean the voter turnout percentage for the Mt Albert BE  is very far off being 100% accurate.

Thanks to Kiwi in America for the analysis.

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Christchurch East

August 26th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

 

National Party nominations for the Christchurch East by-election open today.

 

The party’s Canterbury Westland regional chairman, Roger Bridge, said the seat, to be vacated by mayoral hopeful Lianne Dalziel, had been held by Labour since 1922.

 

A sitting government had never won a by-election in a seat it did not hold, but National had a good story to tell about the rebuild, a strong economy and improving public services, he said.

I’ve been amused by how Labour and some in the media have been talking up National’s chances in Christchurch East, suggesting the seat is marginal. Here’s three facts:

  • No Government has won a seat off an Opposition in a by-election since the advent of political parties
  • National has never ever held the seat.
  • Lianne Dalziel won the seat in 2011 with a 19% margin over Aaron Gilmore

Yes National got 46% of the party vote, but that doesn’t change the political reality that no Government has ever won a seat off an opposition in a by-election. There is no real incentive for voters to do so.

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Lianne’s resignation

June 21st, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Lianne Dalziel has confirmed on Twitter that she will resign as an MP before the results of the Mayoral election are known.

This is the right thing to do, and Lianne deserves credit for that call.

She says she wants to have the by-election as far away as the Council election as possible. She could achieve that by resigning immediately and having a by-election in August. Of course that means no salary and no parliamentary resources (such as phones) while campaigning, so I suspect she is not keen on that option.

The local elections have the votes counted 12 October 2013. So let’s assume Lianne resigns on 11 October 2013.

This means the Governor-General must issue the by-election write by Friday 2 November 2013. the writ must be returned within 50 days which is 22 December 2013.

You need to allow 11 days for special votes, 3 working days for a recount application and estimate 3 days for a recount, so really the election day must be at least 17 days before 22 December, so the latest possible date for the by-election would be Saturday 30 November.

If Dalziel resigns on 11 October, then the earliest day would be Saturday 9 November for the by-election. Every week earlier she resigns then that week could move earlier.

I’m hoping for any date except Saturday 30 November, as I’ll be tramping that weekend, so out of cellphone and Internet coeverage!

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Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election dates

May 9th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The key dates for the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election are:

  • Wed 8 May – date announced
  • Wed 29 May – Writ Day
  • Thu 30 May – nominations open
  • Wed 5 June – nominations close
  • Wed 12 June – advance voting starts
  • Sat 29 June – E-Day
  • Wed 10 July – Official Results
  • Thu 18 July – final day for return of the writ
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Where Hone won

June 27th, 2011 at 5:16 pm by David Farrar

Over at Stuff I analyse the results of the Te Tai Tokerau by-election, and conclude how Hone won, or more why Kelvin Davis fell short.

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Hone wins

June 25th, 2011 at 8:48 pm by David Farrar

With only three polling booths to report, it is clear Hone has won re-election. His majority is 761 at this stage.

Hone got 48% of the vote, which is close to an absolute majority, not just a plurality. It is down from the 62% at the general election, but still a reasonable result.

Kelvin Davis and Labour will be pretty pleased to have got 41% and reasonably close. But they will be a bit nervous about what attacks from their left they may endure from the Mana Party. They will be hoping Mana targets Maori Party voters rather than left wing voters.

Mana is now a parliamentary party, and will be in Parliament after the next election. They can now campaign for party votes and tell people a vote for them is not a wasted vote.

Mana in Parliament may be an issue for both Labour and National. Labour doesn’t want the competition for the votes, but having Mana there might help a Labour-led Government get formed. If the election is so close that the support of Mana could decide the Government, then I have no doubt Labour will do a deal. My small anarchist tendencies would almost like to see Phil Goff managing a Government of Labour, Greens, Maori Party, Mana Party and NZ First.

So today is Hone’s victory – the gamble paid off. Attention will now go on the wider Mana Party, specifically their party list. Will the No 2 be John Minto or Annette Skyes or Sue Bradford or someone else?

UPDATE: Election Night majority is finalised at 867. 1,916 specials to be commented but will not change result unless Davis picked up 73% of them which will not happen.

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If Kelvin wins

June 16th, 2011 at 11:46 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young at the NZ Herald reports:

A win in Te Tai Tokerau byelection by Labour list MP Kelvin Davis could free up a spot on Labour’s list but ex-MP Judith Tizard, who is next in line, is not likely to take it.

In fact, under the electoral law, Labour would have the choice between getting a new list MP or not.

If Mr Davis won the constituency seat, he could resign from the list and create another list vacancy.

This would allow Labour – which got 43 MPs elected in 2008 but has since lost Chris Carter – to return to having 43.

But Mr Davis would not be required to resign, as chief electoral officer Robert Peden told the Herald.

“There is no statutory obligation on a list member who wins a byelection to resign his or her list seat. However, by not resigning their list seat, the list member would be preventing their parliamentary party from benefiting from the byelection win through gaining an additional member in the House from the party’s list,” he said.

This confirms a point that Graeme Edgeler has often made – that a List MP does not have to resign as a List MP, if they win a by-election and become a constituency MP. They would not however get two votes in the House.

The person next in line after those five is veteran Labour candidate and former MP Lesley Soper, who is contesting the Invercargill seat.

She is not on Labour’s list and party sources have suggested she would not be inclined to take up a list seat and disrupt her campaigning in Invercargill.

Ha ha ha. Soper is hated by many in caucus as she is pro-life. They’d rather have Tizard back than Soper.

Statements by the Labour leadership suggest the party is leaning towards having no new list MP in the event of Mr Davis winning the constituency.

Deputy Labour leader Annette King said on Tuesday the party was seeking advice on the matter.

There are two ways they can do this. One is to have Kelvin not resign his list seat. The other is to have the House by 75% majority resolve not to fill a list vacancy as within six months of the general election.

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Only Kelvin can win

May 27th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogs:

It has become clear over the last couple of weeks that only Kelvin Davis can beat Hone Harawira. The Maori Party want him out of parliament even more than we do. That might explain their choice of a low profile candidate yesterday. As the Herald said :-

…. old party launched Solomon Tipene’s bid to win the Te Tai Tokerau byelection.

The great-grandfather was the surprise pick for the Maori Party, which also interviewed lawyer Mere Mangu and actor Waihoroi Shortland, tipped by many in the north as the frontrunner.

I agree with Trevor and the Herald that the selection of Tipene is a surprise and the other two candidates were much higher profile. It may well be that the Maori Party are being tactical here.

So if you don’t want John Hart Minto to become an MP on the coat tails of Hone Harawira, you need to back Kelvin Davis to win. Even if you do not live in the electorate, you can make a donation to help Kelvin in his campaign. The details are:

Kiwibank Account  No 38 9009 0235341 01

New Zealand Labour Party – Te Tai Tokerau LEC

Just make sure you mark it as a donation in the reference field for Internet Banking, so you don’t accidentially become a Labour Party member :-)

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Maori Party candidates for Te Tai Tokerau

May 24th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Yvonne Tahana writes in the Herald:

The Maori Party candidate for the Te Tai Tokerau byelection will be selected today, with movie actor Waihoroi Shortland one of the leading prospects.

Mr Shortland, lawyer Mere Mangu and Whangarei Maori Party official Solomon Tipene will be interviewed at Waitangi today by a panel of eight. …

Mr Shortland, a charismatic and articulate former journalist known to many as “Wassie”, is a reo expert with connections to all of the major northern iwi. He starred in the movie Boy and has had a long career in Maori media.

Ms Mangu will provide strong competition. The leading voice for Tai Tokerau women, she comes with a significant degree of homegrown support and is known to stand and speak at Te Tii Marae at Waitangi.

However, her past unsuccessful attempts for the seat in 2002 and 2005, when she fought hard but finished off the pace as an independent, could be an important factor those on the panel will weigh.

Mr Tipene has less of a profile and ranks as an outside chance.

The stronger the Maori Party candidate, the more chance there is Labour could come through the middle and win the seat – which in this rare case is desirable.

Mangu got 7% of the vote in 2005 as an Independent. That is very high for an Independent.

It will be interesting to see who they select.

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Harawira’s status

May 13th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:

Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira may have to return to Parliament as an independent if he wins the by-election in his electorate, because his new Mana Party has only just applied to be registered.

He announced his resignation on Wednesday, to be effective from May 20, and is walking a fine line to get his party registered in time to qualify for extra parliamentary funding and to be recognised as a party leader in the House. Registration takes six to eight weeks and Mana lodged its application at 5pm yesterday. The by-election is set for June 25.

The more important date is actually Tues 31 May, when nominations close.

However things could get murky. If the Mana Party is not registered by 31 May, he can not be a candidate for it. But he arguably could still list Mana Party on the ballot paper as an unregisterd party or affiliations, just like a candidate can label themselves “Communist League” even though that is not a registered party.

Now if Harawira is allowed to list Mana Party on the ballot paper as an unregistered affiliation, then I doubt that will qualify as being elected as an MP for that party – even if the Mana Party does get registered between 31 May and 25 June.

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By-election dates

May 12th, 2011 at 1:20 pm by David Farrar

John Key has announced the following dates for the by-election:

  • Writ Day Wed 25 May
  • Nominations close Tues 31 May
  • By-Election Sat 25 June
  • Return of Writs Thu 14 July

This would suggest that the winner will be sworn in on Tuesday 2 August (the next House sitting day). He’ll be there for a mere 21 sitting days.

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Pagani on should Labour stand?

May 4th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Pagani looks at whether Labour should stand in the by-election. One of his reasons againgst is:

Even if Labour wins, we just get a re-run of the unhelpful list issues that followed Darren Hughes’ resignation. Kelvin Davis would have to be the candidate. He is absolutely top drawer as a candidate and MP and he will walk all over Hone. He speaks directly to Maori aspiration for better opportunity for their kids. So Mana won;t be able to attack Kelvin. Instead, opponents will run a ‘vote Kelvin get Mahara, or Dave Hereora, or even Lesley Soper’ line. They’re all nice people, but they don’t have a constituency in Te Tai Tokerau. 

There is a simple solution to this issue – not fill the list vacancy if Kelvin Davis wins the by-election. Under s136 of the Electoral Act the House by 75% majority can resolve not to fill the list vacancy as it is within six months of the election. I doubt anyone would disagree that it would be silly to bring someone in on the list for less than 20 sitting days.

Another option would be that Kelvin Davis simply doesn’t resign as a List MP. He wouldn’t get two salaries or two votes, but it would mean no list vacancy is triggered.

Balanced against all that though is a pretty big consideration: Labour would probably win, and in doing so it would knock Mana out of politics.

Labour and the Greens can’t afford to bleed a lazy one or two per cent to Mana, and both have an interest in minimising endless attacks from the tiny, but voluble, left. Taking out Mana in the by-election fixes an irritant.

Second, campaigns lift  morale and therefore increase the total contributions the party can call on. 

Managed the right way, total campaign energy is not a limited resource to be carefully apportioned between campaigns; If you do well in one hard fought campaign, then you inspire more enthusiasm. More people turn out everywhere to help. Enthusiasm is not a given, but in well-run campaigns this always happens. After all, fighting election campaigns is what political parties do. 

 So if Labour backs itself to do a good organisational job, then the campaign could be  worthwhile despite the potential cost.

Despite that, though, I think they’ll decide it’s best to stick to the main game.
Kelvin Davis is one of Labour’s future stars, and as Pagani says could do very well in the by-election. And if they don’t knock Mana out, then they face having John Minto sitting as an MP on their side of the house.
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More on the Hone by-election

May 2nd, 2011 at 9:20 am by David Farrar

A couple of commentators have said that the by-election is justified as Hone needs a new mandate, having left the Maori Party. Now I partly agree with this argument, but they miss a key point. If it was about a new mandate, then Hone could have called a by-election in February when he was pushed out of the Maori Party.

This is not about a mandate. It is about having greater taxpayer funding for the Mana Party.

Mind you part of me wants the Mana Party to do well. getting John Minto into Parliament will help the centre-right no end. And with Sue Bradford and Nandor Tanczos backing the Mana Party, you wonder what will happen with the Green Party vote.

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What a waste of $500,000

May 1st, 2011 at 8:47 am by David Farrar

In an act of pure ego, Hone Harawira is forcing taxpayers to pay for a by-election that will probably be held in July – less than three months before the House dissolves for the election.

The NZ Herald reports:

“I want to recall the $36 million being wasted on a bloody yacht race in San Francisco and spend it instead on heating in the poorer suburbs of Christchurch,” Harawira said.

I agree on not funding the America’s Cup bid but sadly the last Labour Government signed a contract forcusing us to do so. However we do have a choice over whether to have an un-necessary by-election, and the $500,000 wasted could also be used heating homes in Christchurch or even in Northland.

Parliament can only resolve not to have a by-election if the resignation occurs within six months of Parliament automatiically dissolving (22 May) or the announced election date (26 May).

If Helen Clark was still in power, I seuspect she’d be tempted to retrospectively amend the Electoral Act so that the six month period is extended to seven months. Then Hone would be out of Parliament and unable to use taxpayer funding to set up his new party.

The $500,000 costs may be on the light side. As this is a Maori seat, they will need many more polling places than in a general seat by-election.

What really peeves me about this also, is that the new Mana Party is obviously totally backed by the UNITE union – the very same union that doesn’t even pay its taxes – in fact has collected PAYE tax off its staff and failed to pay it to the Government as legally obliged. So they are campaigning on how people should pay more tax, and they don’t even pay tax themselves.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia – currently in Russia for a conference – said she did not know if the party was standing a candidate in the byelection.

But she did much the same as Harawira before the 2005 election: quitting Labour and resigning her Te Tai Hauauru electorate to renew her mandate in a byelection.

Not quite the same at all. Turia resigned in May 2004 – well over a year before the September 2005 election.

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A second by-election

October 9th, 2010 at 4:19 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Labour MP George Hawkins says he will be resigning from parliament.

He has just been elected to the Manurewa Community Board.

Mr Hawkins says he has yet to decide when he will step down.

On the plus side, this gives Phil Twyford another seat he can try and get the nomination for :-)

Hawkins has only been elected to a local board, not even the main Council. I don’t think resigning from Parliament is necessary – but that is his choice to make.

UPDATE: I am interpreting resign from Parliament as meaning actually resign. It is possible he means retire, and is not ruling out staying until the election. He could avoid a by-election if he stays on until middle of 2011.

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Mana By-election Dates

October 4th, 2010 at 4:10 pm by David Farrar
  1. Fri 15 Oct – Laban resigns
  2. Wed 20 Oct – GG to issue writ
  3. Wed 27 Oct – Nominations close
  4. Sat 20 Nov – Election Day
  5. Thu 9 Dec – Return of Writ final day
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Espiner endorses Super Saturday

August 17th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin Espiner blogs:

I reckon we should have a mini general election later this year.

Just think, why wait for next year? And why should those Aussie have all the fun? With the decision by Winnie Laban to head for a nice safe post in academia, the way is open for Chris Carter and Jim Anderton to call by-elections in their own electorates, too.

We could have a Super Tuesday-style tri-series, with three by-elections all on the same day. That would save the taxpayer money, and spark a lot of interest in politics leading up to the general election. It’d also be a sort of dry run for Phil Goff, too, and would allow his colleagues a better chance to assess his chances of winning – or in the immortal words of Don Brash, to lose less badly – the general election.

There’s other advantages to a Super Saturday. With Carter being an Auckland MP, Laban a Wellingtonian and Anderton from Christchurch, we’ve got the majority of the country covered, so there’d be interest from national media across the board.

Add on George Hawkins also, for four by-elections in one day.

I think Labour should go for it.

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An opportunity for Labour?

August 12th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Labour will have very mixed feelings about being forced by one of its MPs to fight a byelection in Mana, even though it is one of the party’s safest seats in the Wellington region.

The byelection sparked by Winnie Laban’s departure to a job at Victoria University is a nuisance for Labour and an opportunity.

I like the idea put forward by Matthew Hooton on National Radio this week. Matthew proposed that Labour should arrange an effective mini-election in November – by-elections in Mana, Te Atatu, Manurewa and Wigram.

This could be a circuit breaker for Labour – they’d get publicity for four to six weeks, and would probably win all four seats, achieving a massive rejuvenation. This would help their chances in 2011 significantly, as they would look a lot less like the bunch thrown out.

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UK by-elections

January 6th, 2010 at 9:36 am by David Farrar

I assumed that a by-election in the UK is automatic, like they are in NZ, but I find out from No Right Turn that the House has to pass a motion to issue the writs for a by-election, which allows the Government to delay or in theory not even have a by-election.

Now in NZ, a by-election is automatic unless the House specifically votes not to have one, as a general election is due within six months. This can only be used if the writ for the current Parliament is due to expire within six months of the vacancy being declared in a seat, or if the PM tables a statement announcing the date of the election, and that date is within six months.

In the UK they also operate a six month rule, but by convention – not by statute. This does allow a Government to go outside the convention and NRT cites a case where they delayed a by-election until the polls were better.

While our Electoral Act is still far from perfect and needs a full rewrite for MMP, it is nice that we have more rigorous laws than our “mother”.

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