Rangitikei by-election, 1978

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Rangitikei by-election, 1978
New Zealand
1975 general ←
February 18, 1978 (1978-02-18) → 1978 general

Turnout 14,164
 
Candidate Bruce Beetham Jim Bull
Party Social Credit National
Popular vote 6,804 5,469
Percentage 48.03 38.61

 
Candidate Dr J.J. Stewart Dr Denis Hocking
Party Labour Values
Popular vote 1,614 264
Percentage 11.39 1.68

Member before election

Sir Roy Jack
National

Elected Member

Bruce Beetham
Social Credit

The Rangitikei by-election of 1978 was a by-election in the New Zealand electorate of Rangitikei, a predominantly rural district in the middle of New Zealand's North Island. The by-election occurred on 18 February 1978, and was precipitated by the death of sitting National Party MP (and Speaker of the House) Sir Roy Jack in December 1977.

The by-election was contested by all major parties. It was won by Bruce Beetham, the Social Credit Party candidate, with a majority of 1,335. He became the second Social Credit Party MP in New Zealand's history. This upset was extremely rare in the post-war political climate of New Zealand, especially in a rural electorate that traditionally voted National (although such voting is more likely in a by-election). The National Party candidate Jim Bull came second, the Labour Party candidate (and rugby coach) Dr J.J. Stewart came third and the Values Party candidate Dr Denis Hocking came fourth.

Beetham was the Social Credit leader and had polled a strong second in the seat in 1975. National was hampered as its candidate was only a stand in until the general election later in the year. Sir Roy Jack planned to retire then, to be replaced by the Minister of Education Les Gandar whose Ruahine seat had been abolished in boundary changes.

Rangitikei by-election, 1978
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Social Credit Bruce Beetham 6,804 48.03 +11.64
National Jim Bull 5,469 38.61 -8.66
Labour Dr J.J. Stewart 1,614 11.39 -2.63
Values Dr Denis Hocking 264 1.68 +0.12
Independent M Leniston 13 0.09 -
Majority 1,335 9.42
Turnout 14,164

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