Election – key electorate results

In general the party vote is all important, but some electorate results can be critical.

Total provisional numbers of seats:

  • National 58 (60 in 2014)
  • Labour 45 (32 in 2014)
  • NZ First 9 (11 in 2014)
  • Greens 7 (14 in 2014)
  • ACT Party 1 (1 in 2014)
  • Maori Party 0 (2 in 2014)
  • United Future 0 (1 in 2014)

It is thought likely that National could lose a seat on the final count, NZ First could also be at risk of that. Greens or Labour could pick up 1 or 2 between them.

This election Te Ururoa Flavell losing means the Maori Party are out of government…

Waiariki provisional result:

  • Tamati Coffey (Labour) 9,847
  • Te Ururoa Flavell (Te Ururoa Flavell) 8,526

…and National may be short of support partners (although the Maori Party could have sided with either them (again) or Labour.

Winston Peters has lost his Northland seat:

  • Matt King (National) 13,686
  • Winston Peters (NZ First) 12,394

Peters won what had been a safe National seat in a by-election in 2015 so this isn’t a shock result, but it is a shock to Winston’s ego and means that NZ First are back to being a klist only party. Alongside a reduction in NZ First’s party vote they don’t have a strong mandate, but due to the way the numbers fell under MMP are in a strong negotiating position if Greens keep refusing to work with National.

Apart from ego losing his electorate may be a good thing for Winston. He won’t have to split his time between an electorate and leading the party in Parliament. And if he decides to retire this term he can do so without causing a by-election.

Other electorate results of interest but having no effect on the overall outcome:

Christchurch Central:

  • Duncan Webb (Labour) 13,838
  • Nicky Wagner (National) 11,573

A loss for a Cabinet Minister but this seat has generally been more Labour in the past. Wagner will still return on the list.

Epsom:

  • David Seymour (ACT) 13,325
  • Paul Goldsmith (National) 8,549
  • David Parker (Labour) 5,048
  • Barry Coates (Greens) 1,878

Seymour saves ACT.

Coates only came into Parliament in 2016 when Kevin Hague resigned, but will be out again now due to the Green party vote slump.

Hutt South:

  • Chris Bishop (National) 17,392
  • Ginny Andersen (Labour) 15,387

Bishop got within about 700 votes of Trevor Mallard last election and earned this win through hard electorate work and favourable boundary changes.

Andersen pushed Peter Dunne hard in Ohariu last election but for some reason moved to Hutt South and lost again.

Ōhāriu:

  • Greg O’Connor (Labour) 14,486
  • Brett Hudson (National) 13,807

Peter Dunne decided not to stand leaving this seat open. Hudson had already asked voters to vote for Dunne so had to switch to asking for votes which will have counted against him, but Green’s late decision to stand Tane Woodley made it harder for O’Connor.

The party vote in Ohariu us interesting

  • National 15,697
  • Labour 11,713
  • Greens 3,203
  • NZ First 1,343
  • United Future 73

The UF candidate got more votes (212) than his party. Dunne used to get far more votes than UF.

Te Tai Tokerau:

  • Kelvin Davis (Labour) 10,448
  • Hone Harawira (MANA) 6,178

No comeback for Hone, this may be the end for him in politics and also for MANA.

Te Tai Tonga:

  • Rino Tirikatene (Labour) 8,435
  • Metiria Turei (Greens) 4,448
  • Mei Reedy-Taare )MAori Party) 3,843

Tirikatene seems to be succeeding more from his name and connections than his performance.

Turei is out of Parliament after her disastrous power play that nearly brought the Green Party down.

Labour, polls and gender balanced list

Vernon Small points a tricky problem for the Labour Party.  They have pledged to have a gender balanced caucus by 2017, but with their struggles to make an impression – as shown by polls, this could be a tricky and imprecise balancing act.

Stuff: Poor polls sensitive issue as Labour MPs brace for gender-balanced list

Small suggests that Andrew Little was ill-advised having a moan about this week’s Colmar Brunton poll that had Labour on 26%, about the same level of support they got last election.

Small comes up with an explanation for Labour poll angst – unless they show substantially higher and sustained poll numbers their list is going to be tricky to put together.

It also came at a bad time for the party as it contemplates that most fraught of MMP political processes; the shape of its party list and who will be high, low and shafted.

It all comes down to the party vote, of course, but with a twist for Labour.

It has pledged to gender balance its caucus by 2017.

When the policy was signed off in 2013, then-president Moira Coatsworth said the target would be achieved by calculating the gender mix at various different levels of support and taking into account the likely electorates Labour would win.

But a party vote of 26 per cent, in line with the TVNZ poll, delivers a very different scenario – and a political death sentence for many a male aspirant – than the 35 per cent-plus yardstick the party is assuming.

Labour currently holds 27 electorates, with 17 held by men and 10 held by women.

Phil Goff looks likely to drop Mt Roskill but Labour have a male heir lined up there.

Christchurch Central may be winnable but they have a male candidate confirmed here. Otaki has selected a male candidate.

Can they afford to have any other male candidates in potentially winnable electorates?

To balance their caucus Labour will have to stack the top of their list with female candidates.

But that has it’s own difficulties. Little himself will have to top the list and will get in via the list unless he takes over a safe electorate – there is no way he will risk standing in New Plymouth again, having lost twice there.

If David Parker wants to remain in Parliament he will want a high list position. Trevor Mallard has already announced he won’t stand in his electorate so will want to ensure he gets in on the list so he can line up for the Speaker’s chair.

Currently Labour has five list MPs. Not much room for females there.

To seriously seek gender balance Labour will have to try and stack their list with females to achieve it at various levels of support, they can’t pick a number and base their decisions on that.

25%, 30%, 35% are all looking possible, so they should be trying to achieve approximate balance at each of those levels.

There are some suggestions that Labour’s vote could collapse, but if they drop to 20% gender balance will be a minor detail amongst the anguish that would cause.

No wonder Little is very sensitive about what the polls are telling him – prepare for a range of results.

Back bench benefits

It’s sometimes said that a big back bench can spell trouble for Governments – idle hands make trouble sort of thing. To an extent there’s probably some truth to that, if those who are idle are ambitious and impatient, or have been demoted and believe they deserve a better status again.

But there can be benefits in a back bench as well, especially when the back benchers are electorate MPs. It can help keep the party caucus in touch with the electorates. Cabinet ministers have very busy lives and can get isolated in their bubbles. Their bank bench colleagues can help maintain a link with electorate reality.

There’s been talk of a possible bank bench ‘revolt’ in National this week over proposed changes to workplace health and safety legislation.

Tracey Watkins comments in John Key’s rural New Zealand problem.

Amid the various claims circulating this week was the suggestion that Collins and Williamson were leading a back bench revolt over the legislation, which imposes stiff rules and punitive penalties for health and safety breaches. Collins’ arch denials left more than enough room to read between the lines.

Key’s announcement after Tuesday’s caucus that the health and safety legislation was on hold for another two months revealed the extent of disquiet in National’s ranks.

The row has been rumbling along quietly for months, but the bill’s imminent return to Parliament brought matters to a head.

“Leading a back bench revolt”, “disquiet in National’s ranks”, “the row has been rumbling along” etc. Is National about to fly apart?

Or is this a sign of healthy democracy in action?

From their positions on the back bench, Collins and Williamson are closer to the ear of the back bench MPs, who are wearing the backlash from their constituents and local board members.

For recent MPs, this will be a new new experience. For older ones, they will remember the last time they had to wear the backlash for a Cabinet decision  – that was over class sizes.

Cabinet was forced to execute a hasty u-turn.

For any MP whose future rests on the goodwill of voters, any backlash is a cause for panic.

The fear of the back benches is that measures like the health and safety bill will open up a new anti-PC or “political correctness” front in the battle for hearts and minds in rural New Zealand.

This is dripping with negative terms. Perhaps there are some negatives, or potential negatives.

But could also be a positive sign of healthy debate, of back benchers communicating with their constituents and giving useful their caucus colleagues.

And a caucus of fifty nine is always going to have differences of opinion and differences in desired approaches and outcomes.

National are lucky to have over half of their caucus in closer touch with their constituents, able to relay the wishes and concerns of their electorates into the core of the Government.

If there is strong concern and disagreement over the health and safety proposals then they should spend more time investigating, getting feedback and considering.

Good legislation should achieve a good balance. On contentious issues that can take time.

And the benefit of a big back bench is being able to listen to electorates and respond to what the people want.

This also shows the benefit of having electorate MPs – it ensures a wider and closer connection with a range of voters.

Parties with all list MPs – like the Greens – can become blind in their own bubbles, only having to communicate with people with similar interests and leanings to their own.

There’s benefits in having back bench electorate MPs that are more significant than giving journalists reasons to overstate the implications of debate and thrashing out a decent balance in any policies..