It all went wrong for the Act Party earlier in the year when the leader at the time, Rodney Hide, lost the confidence of his caucus. Don Brash, sniffing an opportunity, successfully executed an extraordinary leadership coup from outside of the party.
With Act's initial resurgence in the polls on the wane, Brash gave a key speech in which he outlined his preference for the decriminalisation of cannabis. It was at odds with Act's policy and in stark contrast with the views of his key Epsom candidate, John Banks.
With Banks on the ropes, Prime Minister John Key joined him for the infamous cup of tea, to give National supporters in Epsom the message to vote for Banks. It may have got Banks over the line, but I'd suggest it further damaged Act's brand. Nationally Act went from 3.65% of the party vote and five seats in Parliament following the 2008 election, to just 1.07% and only the one seat in Parliament following the current election.
Many commentators see this as the end of the road for Act, but I'm not convinced. For a small party they have a relatively strong structure and with Brash departing there's certainly a chance of a rebuild.
Note that the following analysis is based 2008 data and preliminary results from the 2011 election.
Biggest Party Vote by Electorate
|Rank ||Electorate ||Candidate ||Party (%) ||Change |
|1 ||Epsom ||BANKS, John ||2.57 ||+7 |
|2 ||Tamaki ||BOSCAWEN, John ||2.45 ||n/c |
|3 ||North Shore ||BRASH, Don ||1.97 ||n/c |
|4 ||Waikato ||BOOM, Robin ||1.96 ||+3 |
|5 ||Clutha-Southland ||NICOLSON, Don ||1.86 ||+18 |
|6 ||Pakuranga ||SIMMONS, Chris ||1.81 ||-2 |
|7 ||Whangarei ||GRIEVE, Robin ||1.75 ||+17 |
|8 ||Northland ||BRILL, Barry ||1.67 ||+10 |
|9 ||Botany ||MURPHY, Lyn ||1.66 ||+3 |
|10 ||East Coast Bays ||HUTTON, Toby ||1.56 ||n/c |