Stephen Franks to stand for National!

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).

Some very interesting news out today: Stephen Franks is standing for National in Wellington Central. Although this was signalled in the NBR in July 2007, the big surprise for me is that he is standing in Wellington Central, where Heather Roy recently announced she was standing for ACT. This can only be seen as a slap in the face for ACT. Admittedly, it is quite likely that Franks’s nomination was already finalized before Roy announced her candidacy. Still, this will make for some interesting campaign meetings.

Although we knew that Franks was being courted by National, I wonder if he really fits in to the renovated National brand that John Key has crafted: seemingly a more centrist and softer party than the Brash-led version. Franks is well known for his tough stance on law and order. While this is hardly anathema to the conservative party, Franks carries a lot of baggage through his involvement with ACT and of late the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

I’ll be keeping a watching brief on the Wellington Central race and I’d be particularly keen to get readers’ comments on this.

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