This is not only a stunning (in a bad way) vote for National in terms of the party vote, i.e. people who ticked “National” on their ballots, but also in the electorate vote, i.e. the local candidates that voters are picking.
There are 13 National incumbents in electorates currently in line to lose their seats. Some of those losses are narrow and it’s early days, so they are likely to change. But some of those incumbent electorate candidates will be very nervous.
Their election night event remains very sober (figuratively and literally – it’s a cash bar). There is a lot of chatter but absolutely no reaction to results as they are updated. One MP present, Melissa Lee, is still claiming that she “hasn’t really seen” the results, although they are on a large screen on the wall.
The night so far: extraordinary election for Labour
30% of votes counted: Labour ahead
The early trend suggests the Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters will not be returned to parliament.
His party, New Zealand First, which governed in coalition with Labour, has 2.3 % of the party vote with 23% counted. That’s way below the 5% needed.
Shane Jones, NZ First’s best electorate hope, is a distant third in the race for Northland and looks a forlorn chance even with just 15% of votes counted.
Jacinda Ardern won the seat of Mount Albert at a by-election in 2017 after nine years in Parliament as a Labour list MP.
She was re-elected at the general election in 2017 with 64.5% of the electorate vote, a whopping 40.3% margin over her National rival.
Right now she’s on almost 71% of the electorate vote, which translates to a 51-point margin over National list MP Melissa Lee.
I’m not at the ACT party’s election night event, but I’m told the party leader, David Seymour, has just arrived by boat, pulling off his life jacket as he arrives.
Seymour is going to be one of the winners of the night. His Libertarian party has in the past been seen as faintly comedic, and so has he – but in the past couple of years he has got serious – coming across as almost an opposition leader-type figure during Covid-19 as National roiled with internal dysfunction.
And now he’s riding high – polling at more than 7%. He’s currently ACT’s only lawmaker in parliament but that will change after the election – on current polling, he’d have nine more MPs joining him.
Unfortunately for Seymour his natural coalition party, National, is not doing well.
You can read our profile of him here.
The first MP to arrive at National party headquarters was Melissa Lee. She’s standing in Mt Albert against Jacinda Ardern, so it’s safe to say she won’t win her seat. But since she’s 16th on National’s list, she would scrape back into parliament on the numbers so far.
“It’s early days,” she just told Radio New Zealand, of the result. Asked what a good result for National would be, she said “a good result is a good result.”
She also seemed to blame Covid-19 somewhat – Auckland only came out of the last restrictions of its second lockdown less than a fortnight ago and she pointed out that this has hampered campaigning for the city’s candidates.
Door knocking was barred until last month and they couldn’t have more than 100 people in a room until less than two weeks ago.