At risk of losing seat?

09/04/2011

Labour is ranking its party list this weekend and Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel has opted out of it.

“I came to the conclusion that if I wasn’t re-elected by the people of Christchurch East I wouldn’t want to be a member of Parliament. I wouldn’t want to be anything other than the MP for this area, especially now with the challenge we’ve got.” She said she had not enjoyed being a list MP because the connection with her constituents was not as close.

Why would a senior MP opt out of the list?

She is right that list MPs don’t have as close a connection with constituents as electorate MPs do but is this an admission she’s at risk of losing her seat?

That is the only way she would be in danger of reverting back to being a list MP.

Lianne received 20,969 votes and Labour got 18,893 votes in 2005. National’s candidate David Round got the support of 8,996 people and the party got 9,851 votes.

In 2008 she won the seat with 17,969 votes from National candidate Aaron Gilmore who gained 12,204 votes. Labour received 15,585 party votes and National gained 12,289 party votes. 

The trend is down but a 5,000 majority would hardly be called marginal.

Does opting out of the list mean she’s expecting a demotion this time and wants to avoid that? She was 26th in 2005 and 15th in 2008.

Standing for the electorate only without the protection of a reasonably high list place gives her the opportunity to tell voters the electorate vote is the only way she’ll be returned to parliament.

But it’s the party vote that counts. A candidate who is standing for both electorate and on the list can say, ask for both but tell voters if they’re going to split their vote it’s they should give her/his party the tick.

A candidate who will only get in by winning an electorate is hardly likely to give that message.

Manakau East  MP Ross Robertson has also opted out of the list, as he has done before.


Maori Party not Maori Seats give Maori Voice

04/07/2008

Tariana Turia  said on Agenda that Maori have only had a dedicated Maori voice since the Maori Party has been in parliament.

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

In other words it’s not the Maori seats which give Maori people a voice it’s the Maori Party.

Hold that thought for a moment and consider what might happen if a future government decided that the rural people weren’t being represented adequately and created special rural seats.  A Country Party then forms and takes all the seats but gets only a small percentage of the party vote which creates a two or three seat overhang and gives them the balance of power. When urban people complain and want the seats removed, the country people say that would be for them to decide.

Would that be fair or right? No and for the same reasons it is neither fair nor right to have Maori seats nor to leave the decision on their existance up to Maori.

 It has nothing to do with race, the Treaty, or rights of indigenous people, it’s about democracy in which one group of people should not have the right to make a decision on something which affects everyone.

The Maori seats impact on us all in two ways: the potential for overhang distorts the proportionality of parliament which is one of the merits of MMP; and if Maori seats were disbanded there could be more general seats so electorates would be smaller and and more manageable for MPs and their constituents.

The Royal Commission which drew up recommendations for MMP said there would be no need for Maori seats and that has been confirmed by the Maori Party leader’s own words – it’s not the seats but the party  which gives a dedicated Maori voice.

P.S. Muriel Newman disccuses Maori seats here and refers to a paper by  David Round which is here.


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