Getting the numbers

Commentators seem to be agreed that Melissa Lee is the favourite to win the National nomination for the Mount Albert by-election.

I have no inside knowledge of her, any other candidates or the views of members in the electorate.

But I do know the party rules and that some favourites have been overtaken in the past by nominees who had a better understanding of what was required –  support from more than 50% of members or voting delegates, in the electorate.

Progressive voting is used so if a nominee doesn’t get at least half the votes in the first ballot the name of the lowest polling nominee is removed and everyone votes again, and if necessary, again until someone crosses the 50% threashold.

Providing an electorate has more than 200 members, and I think  Mount Albert does, it is only the members from the electorate who vote.  The members decide at their AGM if voting will be by universal suffrage or if it’s to be done by delegates with one for every set number of members.

Some high flyers in previous selections have either not understood this or have understood but still failed to win over enough delegates and missed out. David Kirk didn’t get the selection for Tamaki after Rob Muldoon’s retirement because Clem Simich had the numbers

But it’s quite simple. Candidate selection in the National Party, unlike other parties which give at least some of the power to its hierachy,  is grass roots democracy. The winning nominee is the one who wins the support of at least half the members or voting delegates in the electorate and that’s done the old fashioned way by letting them get to know you and convincing them you have the skills and abilities to be a good electorate MP.

John Key has announced the by-election date. It’s June 13th which is also the date Simon and Garfunkel will be playing in Auckland and the All Blacks have a test match in Dunedin., not that either will be relevant becasue both will take past after polling closes.

UPDATE: Lou taylor at No Minister  has another perspective on the by-election

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