Lianne Dalziel’s confirming her run for the mayoralty of Christchurch will be great for the people of the city. They desperately need the kind of positive vision and experience that she will provide. Word on the ground is that people are lining up to support her from all sides of the political spectrum. She’ll be a great mayor for the city as it rebuilds.
Of course this means a by-election in Christchurch East.
By-elections are funny, and difficult to predict. Particularly when a long-serving, locally popular MP has held a seat even when the underlying opinion in the electorate has moved.
And Christchurch East is like that: Lianne Dalziel held the seat in 2011 with a margin of over 5,000 votes – but National not only beat Labour by over 4,000 votes on the party vote, it also beat Labour and the Greens combined by nearly 1,000 votes.
If an electorate loses its long serving MP then its electorate vote usually becomes much more closely aligned with the party vote. That makes National the slight favourite going into a Christchurch East by-election.
Whoever the Labour candidate is for the by-election they’ll have a real fight on their hands. The Labour candidate’s position gets even tougher if the Greens – who have a good profile in Christchurch – run a strong candidate.
After sitting out Ikaroa-Rawhiti National’s party machine will be fresh and their coffers full; Labour will at least be battle-hardened.
The mood in Christchurch has toughened against the government since the 2011 election as people, particularly out east, feel abandoned and have to suffer injury upon insult from Hekia Parata, Gerry Brownlee and National. So there’s every chance for Labour to win, but its going to be a long way from a cake-walk.