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MMP: we need follow through

Written By: - Date published: 5:29 pm, November 5th, 2012 - 20 comments
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The Electoral Commission’s report is out. Now we need to make sure that the Government follow through on what an independent board have decided having listened to ordinary New Zealanders’ submissions.

Personally I would have liked the threshold suggested to be lower, and indeed the Commission says it could be 3% and recommends legislating for a threshold review after a further 3 elections. But the main thing is that we have a consensus, and the right thing is that that should be followed up on.

The report recommends a 4% threshold with no coat-tail clause. John Banks and ACT of course cannot support that…

The other recommendations include:

– no overhang, so we always have 120 seats.

– 60:40 ratio of electorate to list. i.e. 72 electorate seats (2 more than current) and 48 list seats. So the number of list seats doesn’t end up depending on the number of people in the South Island.

– List MPs to continue to be allowed to contest by-elections.

– Political parties to continue to set their own rules for and select their own party list. But they must make a statutory declaration that they have complied with their rules.

These changes are in line with the New Zealand public’s desires; and it is they, not the politicians, who should have the say in how our political system works.

National has not as yet commented on their intentions, but I hope they follow the opposition parties in accepting this independent report and implement it quickly.

20 comments on “MMP: we need follow through”

  1. karol 1

    Yes, Ben.  It is a really important issue, and most of the recommendations look fine to me.
     
    I was just listening to the end of a minister (Collins?) saying on RNZ that she will be looking for inter-party consensus on this as it’s a constitutional matter.  So she has left it open at the moment until she gets together withthe other parties.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Hi Ben, I also think 3% would be much better than 4%, but as you point out that can be statutorily reviewed down the track.

    It looks like the Commission has done a good job in synthesizing the thousands of comments they received, and apart from ACT I can see the recommendations getting wide support from both the public and other parties.

  3. prism 3

    Sounds reasonable and it should be that we can tinker at the edges if we can make it better though I think 4% threshhold is about right. The point is we want a system that is as inclusive as reasonable, without say odd add-ins as the electoral colleges in the USA that throw a spanner in the democratic works. Also their centuries old system is revered even though it has serious defects, while futuristic counting systems that are not under government control undermine its integrity.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    60:40 ratio of electorate to list. i.e. 72 electorate seats (2 more than current) and 48 list seats. So the number of list seats doesn’t end up depending on the number of people in the South Island.

    Actually, it’s a ratio. The idea being that as electorate seats increase so to does the number of list seats. Don’t know why they didn’t just recommend a 1:1 ratio.

    A fixed ratio would mean, as the number of electorate seats increased in response to population changes, the number of list seats would increase in line with the fixed ratio. The size of Parliament would therefore increase gradually in step with changes in growth in the population, as the FPP Parliaments did between 1965 and 1993.

    National has not as yet commented on their intentions, but I hope they follow the opposition parties in accepting this independent report and implement it quickly.

    I suspect that they’re busy working out how they can keep the one electorate seat threshold without looking like they’re doing so for their own privileged benefit.

    • Policy Parrot 4.1

      DTB, while electorates are important in terms of advocacy and representation locally, they essentially under this system are a vestige of FPP – and there is not really any requirement for equal electorates. Essentially what should happen is that electorates should be based on a geographical area – i.e. so no more West-Coast-Tasmans. It would not matter so much if some urban electorates were a lot larger than rural ones in terms of population. And any underrepresentation for big cities/rural areas could be looked at by those compiling the party list.

      Provided the electorate exception is removed, there is no real reason to object to geographical rather than population based electorates. Note – there are 67 territorial authorities in New Zealand – perhaps the electorate seats could be based on them – with a few mergers of very small local authorities with their neighbours – then larger cities with singular councils ie Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington could be allocated a few extra seats.

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        Aligning electorates with territorial authority jurisdictions makes some sense.

        • Policy Parrot 4.1.1.1

          The other thing about aligning it with local body jurisdiction is that elections could be held at the same time for both, which would increase turnout for local body elections, and lead to cost savings in terms of staging elections. I’m not keen on the four year term however, that is a byword for MPs to push through unwarranted changes.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2

        Ah, no. Someone in an electorate with more population than someone else effectively has less voting power which is something that a representative democracy needs to stay well away from. That bit was, by the way, addressed in the report in regards to getting rid of the electorate seat threshold because it gave the people in some seats more voting power. Also, Te Wai Pounamu is pretty much as you describe due to low population.

        As it stands, as population increases so to will the number of electorates and so the number of list seats also needs to increase so as to maintain proportionality.

        • Policy Parrot 4.1.2.1

          Of course, any larger electorate has a smaller voting power, but this isnt about huge differentials in terms of votes. And besides, the party vote remains the same, and equal throughout the country in terms of its effect on the chamber.

          A larger variation, perhaps up 25-33% should be considered. And, there is no huge reason to increase the size of parliament, although there will need to adjustments as regional councils merge, and urban areas grow.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2.1.1

            It’s about two things:
            1.) Perception: If people perceive that they have less voting power then they will get pissed off because of the unfairness
            2.) Having enough representatives: Having too few means that people aren’t well enough represented

            Your suggestion brings both of those about.

  5. Stephen Doyle 5

    Don’t be surprised if JK tries not to implement changes, saying there’s no majority in the house for it.
    That’s one of the sub texts I got from Collins being interviewed by Mary Wilson.

  6. Foreign Waka 6

    Wasn’t the initial idea fewer MP’s? That has quickly gone out the window….

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Wasn’t the initial idea fewer MP’s?

      Not for this review, no. Thankfully, having less representation generally isn’t a good idea.

      • alwyn 6.1.1

        And why not?
        We had a referendum some years ago and there was an overwhelming majority to reduce the size of Parliament to 99 members. Why don’t we take note of what the public wanted and implement the proposal?
        Why should we take any account of the, relatively, tiny number of submissions to this review when we don’t worry about what the public said then?
        The main argument raised for more MPs is that gives us a larger pool from which to choose the Executive. That is of course totally the wrong way round in that it is the number of MPs which sets the size of the Executive. There end up being enough ministers to let them control the Caucus and to keep the ambitious ones in Caucus under control. That is why the United Kingdom has more than 100 ministers, deputy ministers , under sectretaries and so on.
        Why is 99 not enough? What evidence is there that more is better?

  7. lprent 7

    Looks like exactly what is required to fix MMP going forward.

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7.1

      …what is required to fix MMP going forward.

      Didn’t pick you for a management speak wanker, lprent.

  8. ianmac 8

    Peter Dunne does not want changes to the coat-tail rule and wants the 5% retained. He seemed to be saying on Morning Report that the Electoral Commission had no right to determine these changes. Lots of “common sense” words from Pete but no substance that I could hear.

  9. Stephen Doyle 9

    Colin James has some interesting thoughts. I suspect he’s right about the Nats hijacking some aspects.

    http://www.colinjames.co.nz/random_thoughts/Electoral_reform_12Nov06.htm

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