ACT contesting Wellington Central

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

Party newsletter ACTion! reported today that ACT will be contesting the Wellington Central seat at the 2008 election, with the candidate to be “unveiled” next Thursday. By the sound of the announcement it must be a stellar candidate, who knows, perhaps a former MP or city councillor? Or someone from media or sport? Whoever it is, he or she will have to be well known to Wellingtonians to have any chance of winning the seat.

Richard Prebble held this seat from 1996-1999, but the electoral boundaries have since changed, making this a harder seat for ACT to win. Indeed, Marion Hobbs has since held this seat for Labour.

Contesting constituency seats is resource-intensive, but it was mooted by outgoing president Catherine Judd as a possible strategy after the 2005 debacle. According to Judd, voters were happy to “waste” their electorate vote on ACT, as long as they could vote for their party of choice (usually National), for their party vote.

Previously, ACT had made noises about standing a candidate in the Rakaia electorate, but this has now been split into two electorates with the latest electoral boundary redistribution. Given that no candidate has been unveiled (and March 2007 conference attendees were told that ACT was in the final stages of selection), I suspect this has fallen through.

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