By-election in New Zealand

Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First Party, has won a by-election in the electorate of Northland.

In the mixed-member proportional (MMP) system in New Zealand, unlike the generally similar one in Germany, by elections are held to fill vacancies in single-seat districts. In this case, the winner is a sitting list MP. So what happens next? There is no party vote in a by election, nor is the compensation mechanism engaged in any way. So when Peters relinquishes his list seat to take up the electorate, his party would be entitled to a fill the list seat with the next candidate on its own list. In other words, the party can gain a seat by this mechanism!

As it happens, NZF may not exercise its right to claim a new seat; it may simply leave the seat vacant. (Updated: It looks like NZF just might take the additional seat to which it is entitled after all.)

Peters won with a little indirect assist from the Labour Party, whose leader admitted in the days before this election that its candidate had no chance. He said that Northland voters “are going to look around and they have to make the decision about what’s best. If they want to say they are sick and tired of being neglected, they are going to have to decide how they do that and vote accordingly,” said Andrew Little.

Peters held an electorate seat as recently as 2005, Tauranga, which is rather far from Northland. He is, however, originally from Northland.

Below is a comparison the results, showing only those parties that won at least 5% of the votes in either the 2014 general election or this by election; “–” indicates the party did not run a candidate in the given election.

Party 2014 list 2014 nominal 2015 (nominal)
National 17,412 18,269 11,347
NZF 4,546 15,359
Labour 5,913 8,969 1,315
Green 3,855 3,639
Conservative 2,243 1,555
Total 35,707 35,056 28,468

5 thoughts on “By-election in New Zealand

  1. Policy consequences of the by election:

    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters’ win in the weekend by-election means the number of National MPs will drop to 59.

    Only ACT leader David Seymour supported suported proposed changes to sections six and seven of the RMA [Resource Management Act], so the government no longer has a majority for that proposal.

    From RNZ.

  2. David Farrar makes an interesting point about some promises in the campaign regarding bridge improvements:

    This backfired massively (ONCB poll said overall made people less likely to vote National) as it looked like a response to Peters. Peters got credited with the bridges, and National lost some credibility. If there was a case for doing the bridge upgrades they should have been announced before Peters was a candidate, and it should have been a Government announcement. Trying to credit the decision to the lobbying of the local candidate (who could not name them all) was insulting the intelligence of the public.

    Peters has some history with bridges, having used his relationship with a Labour government to get improvements to one in his former seat of Tauranga (which, interestingly, is now represented by Bridges).*

    ___________
    * So Peters got a bridge built in Tauranga, then was defeated by “Bob the Builder”, who was then replaced by Bridges! (And, no, as I often say, you just can’t make up stuff like this!)

  3. Also from Farrar: “Labour did in Northland what they condemned National doing in Epsom and Ohariu – and it worked. Which is why parties do it.”

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