The Greens are the kind of party you'd expect to have a lot of female candidates, as an open sign of their commitment to diversity. Perhaps the most obvious indicator of this is their dual leadership; the position must be shared by two co-leaders, one of each gender. Since the Greens first ran as an independent party in 1999 the female co-leader has been Jeanette Fitzsimmons.
Historical representation of women:
According to Wikipedia the Green Party officially started with that name in 1990, and they had three MPs elected as part of the Alliance in the 1996 election (Fitzsimmons, Rod Donald, and Phillida Bunkle). Since standing in their own right, beginning in 1999, the Greens have had 10 MPs (not counting Bunkle who stayed with the Alliance) of whom 4 have been female, i.e. 40%.
Current representation of women:
The Greens currently have six MPs in total and four are women (Fitzsimmons, Sue Bradford, Sue Kedgeley and Metiria Turei), making 67%. As noted, Fitzsimmons is also co-leader, and has historically often represented the party in televised debates where only one leader was allowed to participate. It will be interesting to see if Fitzsimmons continues this public role in future or whether new co-leader Russel Norman is featured more often. Any Green members who might like to share their insights on how the tasks are divvied up?
2008 Green Party List:
Women represented across the whole list: 20 out of 48 (42%)
Top 5 - Four (Fitzimmons at 1, Bradford at 3, Turei at 4, Kedgeley at 5) 4/5 = 80%
Top 10 - Five (As for Top 5 plus Catherine Delahunty at 8) 5/10 = 50%
Top 20 - Nine (As for Top 10 plus Mojo Mathers at 13, Jeanette Elley at 18, Virginia Horrocks at 19, Donna Wynd at 20) 9/20 = 45%
Top 30 - Fifteen (As for Top 20 plus Diana Mellor at 22, Lisa Er at 24, Jan McLauchlan at 25, Lizzie Gillett at 26, Claire Beakley at 27, Rayna Fahey at 28) 15/30 = 50%
After 30 all Green candidates are ranked at 31 and listed alphabetically.* There are five women in this part of the list, out of 18, making 28% of this tail end of the list female. I also note that a significant proportion of the candidates are list only (including Jeanette Fitzimmons), and there may be more electorate candidates to come.
Likely future representation of women:
Currently it looks as if the Greens will return around 7 MPs, which would mean four women MPs (those already in Parliament) and three men (Russel Norman, Keith Locke and new face Kevin Hague), i.e. 57% female. It will be worth revisiting these figures closer to election time of course, due to the volatility of polling for the smaller parties. The Greens are not seriously contesting any electorate seats, and in fact Fitzsimmons is not even standing for the seat of Coromandel which she has won in the past, so their return to Parliament is dependent solely on breaking the 5% threshold. One of the two co-leader spots will continue to be filled by a woman for the forseeable future.
Readers who are interested in this type of stuff should definitely go have a look at Idiot/Savant's analysis of the impact MMP has had on the diversity of our Parliament. It has pretty graphs and everything.
Other posts in this series to date:
- Act's Party List
* Personally I think this is a brilliant idea and I tried to convince the Alliance to copy it in 2002. It avoids unnecessarily pissing activists off, because really when you are ina minor party it doesn't actually matter whether you are 12 or 32 and can only serve to aggrieve people as they get annoyed at someone they think is a slack arse being ranked further up than they are.