Jacinda Ardern has hopped (again) to an electorate that she thinks will give her a persondate, but what should be a safe Labour seat is doing it the easy way, by working the system.
By-election day in Mt Albert is this Saturday but advance voting has been taking place, with 1924 ballots returned by Sunday. Advance voting is running behind the 2014 general election.
Voting numbers are expected to be down in an election that most think is a foregone conclusion.
Jacinda Ardern has been given another boost by media, this time Newstalk ZB in Mt Albert by-election: Crunch time for Ardern – only she was headlined and just one other of the 13 candidates was mentioned.
Labour MP Jacinda Ardern could be just days away from achieving one of her political goals.
She’ll find out on Saturday if she’s got the backing she needs to win the Mount Albert by-election – a race she’s expected to win
While her background up until now has been as a List MP, Jacinda Ardern said it’s always been her aspiration to be an electorate MP.
“For me one of the things I was always keen to have is just that mandate to represent a community. I always tried to do case work operate in office like an electorate MP would, but it is a little bit different when you have that mandate behind you.”
Ardern has tried and failed to get a mandate three times in electorates.
In 2008 she stood in a very safe National seat, Waikato, and came a distant second but go into Parliament with an unusually high list placing for a first time candidate – 20.
In 2011 she switched to Auckland Central, which had been comfortably held by Labour up until 2005 but won by National’s Nikki Kaye in 2008 by 1500 votes.
Ardern got within 700 votes of Kaye in 2011, and within 600 votes in 2014.
However Ardern has chosen to switch to Mt Albert, easily held by Helen Clark for a long time, followed by easy wins by David Shearer for the last two elections.
So Ardern is expected to win easily, especially as National decided not to stand a candidate.
She will no doubt claim a mandate, but switching to what she thought should be a Labour seat in Auckland Central, then to a safe seat in Mt Albert is more seeking a safe seat rather than getting a mandate by wining a majority of votes on her own merits.
If Ardern wins she will have successfully worked the system more than winning a mandate from voters.
Details of the Mt Albert by-election with a full candidate list: Mount Albert by-election, 2017