Special report: the ACT List 2008 (part 1)

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).

ACT members have been receiving voting forms and brief biographies of members who have put themselves forward to be on the party list for this year’s election. The accompanying information sets out the purpose of the vote, which is non-binding:

On 16 August 2008, the Board of Trustees of the ACT Party will decide our Party List for the coming General Election. In the build-up, the Board members are gathering information about the contending candidates from many sources to assist them with that responsibility, including:

– Speeches by the candidates
– Summaries of qualifications and experience
– Interviews with the candidates
– Opinions of other people

As part of that preparation, the Constitution provides for a ballot in which all members of the Party can express their views by ranking (1) the candidates across the whole of New Zealand, and (2) the candidates in their region. The ballot papers will be analysed by the same computer method as for previous elections, and the results will [be] presented to the Board. What the Constitution says is:

“The results of the ballot shall however be indicative only to the Board and shall not compel the Board to name any particular Potential Candidate on the List or at any particular place.”

The information continues with a reminder that the list of candidates on the ballot is not exhaustive, as it represents only the prospective candidates who have registered as at 18 July 2008. In other words, any number of others could suddenly appear on ACT’s list come 16 August 2008 and in the case of any “star candidates”, almost certainly will be. This means they do not have to show their hand right now.

There are 57 names on the ballot. As ACT members who feel compelled to stand for Parliament we can consider these people to be the most ardent supporters of the party. While it is possible their backgrounds do not necessarily represent those of all members or supporters, the 57 names are the closest I have to a snapshot showing who is ACT in the year 2008. More valuable of course would be the register containing all members and supporters, but this is something ACT, like all political parties, keeps safely under lock and key.

In part 2, I break down the 57 names into categories and find some intriguing patterns.

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