ACT (or Act if you aren't into inadvertent shouting), are an interesting bunch.
Historical representation of women:
Act was founded in 1993, as a lobby group, and became a political party
in 1994. The first election they contested was in 1996. Since then
they have had 18 MPs of whom 7 have been female (31%).
Of the 7 female MPs, four so far have only lasted one term (or
less), namely Deborah Coddington, Penny Webster, Patricia Schnauer, and
the most recent caucus addition (and subtraction) Hilary Calvert. In
contrast all but two of the 11 male MPs have been in for more than a
term; Derek Quigley who had previously been an MP for National during
the 1980s, and David Garrett who resigned from Parliament after
revelations about some criminal dealings in his past. However Roger
Douglas will join them in the one-term male ranks shortly, and John
Boscawen may too depending on their result on November 26th.
Act has only had male party leaders but have had two women MPs fill the
deputy leader position; Muriel Newman from 2004-2006, followed by
Heather Roy from 2006 - 2010. They've have had one female president
(Catherine Isaac from 2001- 2006) out of 6 to date, and have never had a
Electorate selections have played
a role in Act's representation, through using an electorate seat to
nullify the need to break the 5% threshold. Both of the electorates Act
have focused on for this strategy have had male Act candidates -
Wellington Central with Richard Prebble, and Epsom with Rodney Hide and
now John Banks. Act's electorate selection processes are shrouded in mystery
to this blogger, so it is unclear whether there may have been female
candidates overlooked for selection for either of these seats. As
electorates otherwise form a minor part of Act's overall selections I
won't be analysing them further.
2008 Act Party List:
Women represented across the whole list: 9 out of 60 (15%), with 20% in the top 10. (Note, this post was updated 22nd Sept 2011 as I had missed two women in my previous calculation)
Current representation of women:
Act currently have 5 MPs in total and two are women (Heather Roy and
Hilary Calvert), making 40% of the caucus. Roy is a former deputy
leader, while Calvert came into Parliament after the resignation of
David Garrett. Roy's antagonism with former leader Hide, while he was
still in ascendance, meant she lost her place as a Minister and did not
nominate for selection for the 2011 election. Calvert does not appear
on the party list, and it remains unclear whether she was offered a
place too low for her to accept or she decided not to stand before the
list was finalised.
2011 Act Party List:
Women represented across the whole list: 6 out of 27 (22%), with 30% in the top 10.
Top 5 - One (Catherine Isaac at 3) 1/5 = 40%
Top 10 - Three (As for Top 5 plus Kath McCabe at 9, Robyn Stent at 10) 3/10 = 30%
Top 20 - Six (As for Top 10 plus Lyn Murphy at 13, Pratima Nand at 16, Toni Severin at 18) 6/20 = 30%
Top 27 - Six (As for Top 20) 6/27 = 22%
it is now well known that Catherine Isaac is the so-called mystery
candidate at number 3 I have included her in these calculations. It may
be that she is unable to take up a place in Parliament due to family
reasons, but that is part of the whole point of a list-based system; if
someone finds they are unavailable when the call comes then the spot
goes to the next person, and the next and so on.
The list beyond 27 has not yet been announced, but I understand it will be ranked alphabetically, as the Greens do. If I get a chance I will update this post to reflect the additional candidates once they are public.
Likely future representation of women:
Act are looking likely to return by way of John Banks winning the Epsom
seat. On current polling he would bring one person on the list in, Don
Brash, and maybe on election night they could stretch to a second, which
would mean John Boscawen returned. It seems unlikely they will get to
their third candidate, assuming Isaac is able to take the spot up, and
if she isn't then there are five more men before the next woman on the
list anyway. That would make it an all male caucus, with an all male leadership team in Parliament too.
Other observations on candidate diversity:
A quick scan of the Act list reveals predominantly
male Pakeha names. They don't have profiles for most of the candidates
available yet, so it's hard to say if that's a fair assessment. Pratima
Nand, at 16 and their Mt Roskill candidate, is Fijian Indian, but no
one else leaps out at me as ticking any other census box than "NZ
European." Updated from intell in comments: Dominic Costello is Maori, and Richard Evans African. As with the 2008 list for Act, many seem to be new
The top 10 does include two people
clearly under 30 - David Seymour at 6, who is 28, and Stephen
Whittington at 8 who is 25. I'm not aware of anyone openly identifying
as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, or anyone with a
disability, but as always, would be interested in comment from those
with more knowledge than I.
Overall this seems an even less diverse list than Act has produced in the past. I don't imagine this will bother many in Act, or voting for them, overly. But it should.
Official Act Party release of List
Index of A Woman's Place posts from 2008 and 2011 - so far just the Greens in addition to this post for 2011