When Phil Goff resigns from parliament the Opposition will be one vote down, putting National back in the position it was immediately after the election and before it lost Northland when New Zealand First gained another MP.
National list MP Parmjeet Parmar is expected to win the party’s selection for a candidate to contest the by-election.
If she were to win the seat National would gain another list MP which would make it easier than it is at present to get legislation passed.
How likely is that?
National won the party vote in the seat in the last election and Labour’s candidate Michael Woods won’t have anywhere near the name-recognition that Goff had.
But a government has never won a seat from the opposition in a by-election.
The Green Party’s decision to not stand a candidate will help Labour and the waters will be muddied by the candidacy of newly formed People’s Party leader Roshan Nauhria to contest the election.
History shows new parties rarely attract much support. The question is: will any support Nauhria does attract will split the opposition vote or be at National’s expense?
Labour has the most to lose. Failing to hold the seat wouldn’t only leave the Opposition one seat down, it would be a huge blow to its fight to continue looking like a major party with any chance of leading a future government.
National has less to lose and a lot to gain.
History is against it, but a strong candidate and a campaign to match make a win possible although it’s too soon to say if that’s probable.