So what are the chances that their electorate selections will even those numbers up a smidge?
National currently holds 30 electorates, of which a grand total of 5 (five) are held by women:
- Judith Collins (Clevedon, now standing in the re-jigged and re-named Papakura)
- Jacqui Dean (Otago, now called Waitaki)
- Jo Goodhew (Aoraki, now called Rangitata)
- Sandra Goudie (Coromandel)
- Anne Tolley (East Coast)
Anyway, the above are all standing again, and I think it's pretty safe to say they'll all win their seats again too, barring scandal of a supreme nature. Tolley won East Coast off Labour's Moana Mackey, who is challenging her this year, but I don't think anyone is picking a reversal there anytime soon.
What about new National electorate MPs, either in constituencies where their is no incumbent, or where the swing to National might leave Labour's representative hanging?
Christchurch Central (previously held by Tim Barnett, Labour) - Labour's Tim Barnett is retiring, but their Brendon Burns will be pretty hard for Nicky Wagner to beat. She's in on the list anyway.
Dunedin South (previously held by David Benson-Pope, Labour) - Clare Curran must surely replace her erstwhile Labour colleague, despite all the right wing blog beat-up that he will run as an independent.
Mangere (previously won by Taito Phillip Field for Labour) - I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting Mita Harris can win over Labour's Su'a William Suo.
Maungakiekie (previously held by Mark Gosche, Labour) - National candidate's Sam Lotu-Iiga, is likely to suffer from the unpopular moves of his Citizens and Ratepayers ticket on the Auckland City Council, and UnitedFuture's Denise Krum may suck up enough of his Christian votes to give Labour's Carol Beaumont some measure of safety. Certainly Mark Gosche, who is immensely popular in the area, is actively campaigning with her which has got to be a good sign.
Botany (new seat) - Pansy Wong is standing here, after some time on National's list plugging away dutifully in Auckland Central. Kenneth Wang from Act may possibly run her hard, but I think she'll win it.
Palmerston North (previously held by Steve Maharey for Labour) - Labour's Iain Galloway-Lees would seem a shoe-in, but they did turf out Red Heather in last year's mayoral race. Malcolm Plimmer is the National candidate.
Rimutaka (previously held by Paul Swain, Labour) - Chris Hipkins is likely to hold the seat for Labour, against National's Richard Whiteside.
Selwyn (previously Rakaia, held by Brian Connell for National) - Amy Adams is expected to retain the seat for National.
Tauranga (previously held by Bob Clarkson for National)- Current polling, and current scandals, suggest National candidate Simon Bridges is like to see off Winston Peters.
Wellington Central (previously held by Marion Hobbs for Labour) - Especially given all National's threats on the jobs of public servants, you'd have to think their candidate, Stephen Franks, was a rather long shot. Surely. I mean, it's Stephen Franks.
Did you notice, there are only two retirements from National's sitting electorate MPs, and both were outsiders in the caucus (Clarkson and Connell). They're doing their renewal via the list it seems, rather than finding fresh faces for their safe electorates. One has been replaced by a man (Bridges in Tauranga), and the other by a woman (Adams in Selwyn, aka the new Rakaia).
Could change from Labour to National:
Hamilton West - Martin Gallagher is the incumbent for Labour and has been put right at the margins of electability on the Labour list, no doubt as a spur to keep the seat. If he doesn't then National's Tim McIndoe will take it.
Taupo - Labour's man in town, Mark Burton, seems to have lost his zest for politics in recent years and boundary changes are agin him and his ilk, so National's Louise Upston could be in.
West-Coast Tasman - I actually think Damien O'Connor is pretty safe, but National seems to think otherwise. List MP Chris Auchinvole is their candidate.
Rotorua - Like the Hamilton seats, this has been a bit back and forth in recent years. If Steve Chadwick doesn't hold it for Labour, she will be replaced by National's Todd McLay.
Auckland Central - I'll be interested to see how National's candidate Nikki Kaye performs at the Suffrage Eve Debate next week, and if she has good on the ground organisation maybe she could shift Judith Tizard, but I think Kaye would need the poll swing National had two months ago, not the closing gap they are facing now. If Labour somehow pull off a win in November, and Kaye remains committed to the electorate for 2011, she could face a more advantageous position then.
Thus of the five electorates National seems to think they can take off Labour in November, they've put female candidates in two of them. Putting that together with the fact that they'll definitely add two women electorate MPs to the existing five, Adams in Selwyn and Wong in Botany, it almost seems like National might be making a conscious effort to increase the number of women they have in electorate seats. At best (for them) National could have nine of their female MPs holding electorate seats, almost double the number they have now, and a significant increase from 17% to 26%.
Women in un-winnable seats:
A quarter of National's unwinnable constituency candidates are women. They have put 6 women and 18 men up in seats that are safe for other parties. National don't seem to be contesting the Maori seats at all, so that means the figures won't add up nicely (and of course there will be some disagreement with what I think is safe, marginal and likely to change hands).
I note that 5 of these 6 women are already National MPs, and all are likely to get in on the list. Not so for the men.
It looks as if National are making an effort here, and because they are starting from a pretty low base the improvement appears to be significant. However I'm starting to wonder about National's much vaunted electorate selection process. Party hacks always claim that head-office has little influence, but there are quite a few percentages all coming out around the 25% mark, for women's representation. Consider this:
- The entire National party list of 73, 25% XXers
- Possible post election electorate seat MPs for National, 26% female
- In unwinnable electorate seats, 25% of National candidates are women
Other posts in this series to date:
- Act's Party List
- Green's Party List
- National's Party List
- The Maori Party's candidates (list and electorate)
- Labour's Party List
- UnitedFuture's Pary list