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Electoral backlash claims "groundless", MP says

Sat 8 Sep 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Green MP Kevin Hague believes talk of “electoral backlash” against MPs who vote for marriage equality is groundless. MPs have been inundated with mail from people on both sides of the debate since Louisa Wall’s bill was pulled from the ballot. Hague says a point frequently made by opponents of the reform is that they won’t vote for MPs who support the Bill. “List MPs are insulated from such threats of course (except for a party like the Greens, who only get MPs into Parliament via the list, and who will support the Bill as Party policy), but electorate MPs with narrow margins might understandably feel a little fearful,” he writes on Frogblog. “Actually, we’ve been here before. During the public debates that surrounded Homosexual Law Reform, adding ‘sexual orientation’ to anti-discrimination law, and Civil Unions, opponents threatened not only that the sky would fall, but also that they would unseat MPs who voted for the reforms,” he says. “MPs might well note that with public support for marriage equality outweighing opposition by 2:1 (and considerably more than that amongst younger voters), which is much more favourable than those previous reforms, there is less risk. Since they could still be nervous, I commissioned some analysis of what actually happened since these key reforms to see how effective opponents had been in bringing about electoral ruin for reform supporters. “The inescapable conclusion is that the threats made to unseat reform supporters were entirely groundless.” Hague says of course some supporters did lose their seats, but adds people lose seats for all sorts of reasons, such as general swings against their Party, boundary changes, and great opponents. “In general, reform supporters actually fared a little better than reform opponents, although there are too many variables to say for sure that supporting reform actually improved electoral fortunes. “That might be different with marriage equality, because it is so much more popular with the public.” Hague says if anything, it’s those who intend to vote against the Bill who may need to worry.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Saturday, 8th September 2012 - 1:22pm

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