Epsom electorate background

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).

Quest for Security has an excellent backgrounder on the history of the Epsom electorate and predicts Hide will win the seat by a landslide in 2008. Barring the unlikely scenario, such as Hide somehow blotting his copy-book in a big way with the “little old ladies” (Hide’s words, not mine) prior to the election, I agree 100% with this assessment. I think the voters of Epsom have got their money’s worth over the last couple of years, as far as Hide being a “good local MP” is concerned.

It’s interesting how individual electorates such as Epsom and Tauranga still fascinate the New Zealand public, despite the much greater significance of the party vote under MMP. Of course, this is because so many of the smaller parties have relied and do rely on winning an electorate seat to get their party into parliament. Interestingly, in Germany, on whose electoral system New Zealand’s MMP is based, a small party must win three electorates for the 5% party vote threshold to be waived. Even allowing for the much greater number of electorates in Germany, this has virtually never happened, as it is unlikely that a party will have three stellar candidates who can win an electorate on their own personalities. As a result, small parties there such as the FDP (Free Democrats), Greens and the Left Party (Die Linke) always focus on the party vote. That’s how it should be.

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