Friday, 22 August 2008

A Woman's Place: Green Party List

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.


stargazer said...

one thing that you haven't noted with the green's list is that they have no asians (in the widest sense) in the top 20 of their list. neither did they have one in the last two elections. as a party that embraces diversity, i find this really odd, and always hassle my friends from the green party about it. even ACT managed to get a chinese person into parliament, national managed it, i say to them, so how come you guys haven't? they put it down to their list selection process, which is open and democratic. i'm not sure what that implies.

DPF:TLDR said...

Interesting point Stargazer. And although I shouldn't presume to predict how people will identify based purely on names and small photos, there don't seem to be any Pacific peoples in the top 20 either (except for the Maori candidates).

OTOH, I don't know of any other party that has ever had a deaf candidate stand so high on their list. Should Ms Mathers get into Parliament (unlikely, since it would require the Greens to get 11% of the vote) I wonder what sort of support she would need to be able to participate, given that most debate in Parliament is verbal, and lip-reading might not always be practical based on where the speaker is sitting.

GZ said...

I'd say that the lack of Asians is a cultural artifact of their support base. The Asian (and Pacific - who make up 10% of the population) membership of the Greens is very small, as far as I know, leaving no candidates to choose. It's concerned me for some time, and I think that the party's insular nature, and fear of engagement outside of what they see as their natural consistency compound that problem. They'll be forever consigned to 4-7% and risk long term extinction if they don't deal with problems like these.

DPF:TLDR said...

George, you're right, but it doesn't explain it fully - AFAIK the Maori membership of the Greens is also quite small, yet their Maori representation is quite good.

Anonymous said...

Just as a point of info, the gender balance in the list isn't accidental, it is part of the list selection criteria. Although I understand the list wasn't altered from the party vote results this year. So Greens seem to have a natural inclination towards gender balance. Either that, or we've just got stonkingly cool women ;)

re the task share between the coleaders, it's tended to be on strengths and interests. I'm not too sure about how Jeanette and Russel work it, but I know when Rod was around, he tended to do more of the print/radio stuff and Jeanette did more of the TV. But the media part of their role split is a tiny aspect of the leadership role and the split of roles is carefully considered across the whole role.

Also note, that the alphabetical bit after position 30 reverses each election. This year it's reverse alphabetical. I guess it's so the person who's last name that starts with Z doesn't feel unloved every time :)

stargazer said...

that's interesting kakariki. so if there's a requirement for balance in terms of gender, why haven't the greens been prepared to consider balance in terms of ethnic diversity? i'm really interested in hearing about what the thinking is around that.

Julie said...

Thanks for the comments - although I did some ethnic analysis for Act I'm not intending to do it for everyone as I just don't have time. For Act it was easy, but for other parties I'd have to rely on guesses based on names largely, and that way lies a lot of incorrect assumptions and edited posts... I'm glad you chipped in with that though Anjum, it is a very interesting point. And it's great to see the responses from Green members too.

I had a funny feeling that the Greens might have a system about the gender balance, as I remember discussions within the Alliance in 2002 about how the Greens used to rank their portion of the list when they were all in one party. Thanks for the insight and confirmation Kakariki.

One thing I've observed within parties that do seek to institutionalise or have rules of thumb around balance (gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, whatever) is that usually the initial push comes from a strong women's network, or youth wing, or Pasifika group. Perhaps in the case of the Greens the perpetuation of the lack of Pacific and Asian candidates reflects the weakness of their recruitment in these areas, and until there is a real drive to change it there won't be much movement. Particularly in small parties I think sometimes this stuff comes down to one person, or a small group of friends, who picks up the ball, runs with it, and brings other people in to play the game on their team.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, after the membership ranks the list, there is other management of the list to support diversity, and some people may go up or down a little (although this isn't particularly strong). The Greens had the "rapping reverend" Mua Strickson-Pua as a candidate for Mangere last election, and I'm disappointed he's not there again, or on the list (but I don't know the reasons and thus can't comment). I hope they get him back, cause I think he'd be great in parliament.

As Julie says, often one person makes a lot of difference in a small (or even large) party, in recruiting and building a section. I'm a firm believer that parties should try and recruit people with high standing in their local community as candidates, even if they're not a traditional supporter of that party. The mana a person can bring is incredibly important. One of the reasons Labour and National do so well is that they patronise communities, in the non-judgemental sense of the word (although occasionally the other sense too).

Russel Norman and many in the Greens argue that they can't afford to spend their time building electorates. I think they can't afford not to focus on localities.

Anonymous said...

yes apologies, if I'm going to clarify things, I probably should clarify properly ;)

The list is balanced on gender, age, geography and ethnicity (in different proportions). The ethnicity criteria applies to Maori only.

I agree that unfortunately there tends to be an active member or two that works to connect different communities. It doesn't help when those people defect to the ACT Party..

I think though that the Greens do have a strength of solidarity with other marginalised communities. Especially communities that tend to be marginalised by all parties, people with disabilities immediately comes to mind. And that was even before Mojo got active within the party.