Poor turnout in Mt Albert but Labour gratified

Venkat Raman – 


There was never a doubt that Jacinda Arden would win the Mt Albert seat at the by-election held in that constituency tonight.

It was a Labour seat- has been so for the past 71 years since the Constituency was formed in 1946. Therefore, it was little surprise that Labour retained its seat.

But what mattered was the candidate.

Ms Arden won 10,000 votes out of 12,971 votes counted tonight.

There are still 744 votes including 84 overseas votes that are yet to be counted.

Even so, Ms Arden is a clear winner, with her nearest rival, Julie Anne Genter getting only 1489 votes. Geoff Simmons of The Opportunities Party polled 600 votes while Vin Tomar of the New Zealand People’s Party received only 191 votes.

Rising Star

Ms Arden has often been labelled as ‘The Rising Star’ in the Labour Party.

She campaigned well and connected well with the people in the electorate. She was new to her constituents but people in Mt Albert appeared comfortable voting for her.

As Labour Party Leader Andrew Little said following her victory, “Jacinda put their concerns at the forefront of her work at a time when it has never been more important for a government to deal with problems like the housing crisis, health care underfunding and the multiple challenges facing schools to deliver better education results for our children,” he said.

Voter Apathy

However, it was surprising that the voter turnout was just 29.9%, accounting for 13,715 votes in a constituency with 45,865 voters registered until yesterday.

The Official Results process will start tomorrow (Sunday, February 26, 2017) and is expected to be completed by Wednesday March 8, 2017.

“All votes counted on election night will be recounted. Special declaration votes will be processed and counted.  The target to release the Official Results for the Mt Albert by-election is 4 pm on Wednesday March 8, 2017,” an Electoral Commission statement issued tonight said.

Writing in the New Zealand Herald before the results were announced, Bryce Edwards, Lectures in Politics at Otago University said that a good win for Jacinda Arden could propel her further up Labour’s ranking.

“It is not a question of if Arden will win the seat when voters go to the polls but by how much. Both the margin of her win and the number of voters she was able to turnout, would decide her seniority in the Party ahead of the general election. The win comes at a crucial time when Labour needs to decide who to take into the election campaign as its Deputy Leader.”

Mr Little said that Ms Arden’s move to Mt Albert Constituency will create a vacancy in her Auckland Central Constituency which is likely to be filled by former Labour MP and lawyer Raymond Huo.

Former MPs Moana Mackey and Marian Street are next on the list but both said that they were not interested, paving the way for Mr Huo.

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