Kiwi-Indian MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan is placed at number 33 in New Zealand Labour Party’s newly released list. 

Earlier in the 2017 election, Mrs Radhakrishnan was placed at number 12 in the party List. Recently, Mrs Radhakrishnan was confirmed as Labour Party’s candidate for Maungakiekie in Auckland, where she gave a tough fight to National MP Denise Lee in 2017 elections and lost by only less than 3000 votes. 

The new list has several notable changes in the rankings of the MPs, including a new star-inclusion of - Ayesha Varell - an infectious diseases expert, who has played an important role in the government’s response to Covid-19 pandemic. 

The other notable movements in the list were Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford who was elevated from previous fifth rank to a new fourth rank. 

Health Minister David Clark was moved from previous ninth place to a new seventeenth rank - a move that many observers are calling as a demotion - reflective of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s earlier move of demoting him to the last position in the cabinet. 

Labour Party’s president Claire Szabó has however refused to draw much connection between Minister David Clark’s demotion in the cabinet and also going down in ranks in the Party-list. 

Some Kiwi-Indian community leaders have expressed surprise and dismay on their MP’s latest ranking in the new list. 

Narendra Bhana, President, Auckland Indian Association said, “We are really surprised by this move from the Labour Party.”

Paul Patel, President, New Zealand Indian Central Association said, “As a Kiwi-Indian it's a bit disappointing to see their only MP in the government going down in ranks.”

“We are anyway dealing with the issue of increased representation of all ethnicities across all spectrum of decision making, including in government,” Mr Patel said. 

“However, I also understand, seeing the list and the new faces being brought in now in the post-Covid-19 environment that might explain her going down in the list. I am still hopeful that she will get back into parliament,” Mr Patel said. 

What gets an MP into parliament: A winnable position or a safe electorate 

In the MMP system, how an MP gets into the parliament depends upon the party’s overall vote share and then the candidate’s winnable position in the party list or a safe electorate. 

In that regard, Mrs Radhkrishnan’s electorate Maungakiekie is at best a marginal seat, from being a safe National seat to a keenly contested election in 2017 which saw Labour’s vote share increase by around 8 per cent and overtaking National’s vote share for the first time. 

However, there have been some more changes in size and the area of the Maungakiekie electorate in the recent boundary review process that completed in April 2020, changing the voter-dynamics that is likely to keep the seat a marginal seat. 

Notably, Labour Party is currently polling quite high as per the last two polls (TVNZ’s Colmar-Brunton poll- 59 per cent Newshub’s Reid Research poll - 56.5 per cent) and it is expected that the party will bump up their MPs in parliament from current 46 to a possible 70- plus seats (based on current polls). 

Experts believe that given Labour’s track record in winning electorate seats has been less impressive than the main opposition National Party, therefore there will be more uptake from the Party’s List, and it is likely that Mrs Radhakrishnan will return back to parliament.