Fitzsimons to resign as Greens co-leader

Fitzsimons to resign as Greens co-leader

By ANTHONY HUBBARD – Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 22 February 2009

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is about to announce her resignation from the post. She will stand down to allow a new co-leader time to make her mark before the 2011 election.

The veteran Green, co-leader since 1995, is expected to serve out the parliamentary term as a list MP.

The main candidates for her job, which under Green Party rules must be held by a woman, are MPs Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei. The new leader is likely to be announced at the party annual conference in June.

Fitzsimons, who had earlier indicated she would probably retire at the next election, refused to comment yesterday. Co-leader Russel Norman also refused to discuss her future.

Fitzsimons’ departure will leave a difficult problem for the party. She is a widely liked and admired politician, with appeal across the political spectrum.

Neither Bradford nor Turei has similar appeal. Bradford, once a fiery Marxist radical, has softened her image, but her sponsorship of the anti-smacking bill drew much flak.

Turei has the progressive appeal of being a Maori woman, but she may be seen as too radical to have wide appeal.

It is not known if Catherine Delahunty, elected to parliament at last year’s general election, will be a candidate for the co-leadership. Her lack of parliamentary experience could count against her.

It is understood that veteran Green MP Sue Kedgley is not seeking the post.

Auckland University political scientist Raymond Miller said the resignation was a serious blow to the Greens. “Jeanette was a conservative and moderate figure who reassured people who might otherwise think of the Greens as an extremist party.”


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