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Quick thoughts on MMP changes

Written By: - Date published: 8:08 am, August 14th, 2012 - 19 comments
Categories: MMP - Tags:

Lowering the threshold to 4% is a step in the right direction but why not go further? Getting rid of coattailing is negative in theory but in practice could stop anti-democratic gaming by major parties protecting tiny client parties. Abolishing overhangs is bad – it just increases disproportionality for parties with strong electorate support vs party support – ie the Maori Party.

19 comments on “Quick thoughts on MMP changes”

  1. KJT 1

    Why not go the whole hog and have a Swiss style Government by the people.

    Democracy. Not a rotating Dictatorship.

    Tinkering with MMP is just taking baby steps towards what the public want, if they had any say. Democracy.

    Any steps towards limiting our politicians dictatorial power, such as MMP, is obviously greeted favourably by an overwhelming majority.

    Or do you think only the politically favoured few should continue to dictate the future of all of us.

    Worked well so far, has it?

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Direct democracy, just expect that the Tory voters will still be the most consistent in turn out, and their politics have the strongest media backing, so be careful what you wish for.

      • KJT 1.1.1

        As research shows that the population as a whole, in Western countries, are far more socialist than their Governments. I am not too worried.

        I’ve seen a research paper done in NZ which asked for opinions on various policies without specifying the parties they came from. Over 80% favoured Green policies.

        It has not been published. Surprise!

        That is why the RW, and political timeservers of all stripes, are so scared of democracy.

        • Sanctuary

          I am not sure I understand what you mean by “Swiss style” democracy. The oft-put right wing fantasy that Swiss direct democracy is simply the ability of a majority of radicialised and angry voters who bother to vote in a binding referendum to impose their views on the entire nation couldn’t be further from the truth. Is that what you are suggesting? Or do you suggest we divide New Zealand into, say, eight self governing “super” provinces each with its own constitution, parliament, government and courts? As in Switzerland, each province would be responsible for its own healthcare, welfare, law enforcement, education and taxation.

          We would also have an upper house of, say, 24 people (three elected from each province plus, say, three from a Maori roll) and a Federal parliament of 100 MPs elected under MMP with no Maori seats. That is a whole lot of politicians. Much more than we have now, imagine what Peter Shirtcliffe would make of that – the stupid old codger would probably have a heart attack – and much more granular. Imagine Len Brown as PM of the province of Auckland, able to raise taxes for his rail link, or Celia Wade-Brown imposing a carbon tax on industry in Wellington, or Sideshow Bob actually being in charge of the rebuild in Christchurch, or a referendum amongst the voters of Otago-Southland stopping/allowing both the Dunedin roofed stadium and the monorail through Fiordland National Park, or the Maori Party government in Waikato-BOP province setting up their own little Whanau Ora program..

          “Direct democracy” at a federal level would then require, say, a triple majority (i.e. the vote to be carried in the majority of provinces, the majority of Maori voters, and by a majority of all voters) to be carried. “Direct democracy” at the provincial level would then consist of a simple majority, of having to convince around 200-250,000 citizens to vote for (or against) a proposal. At that level, you couldn’t astro-turf a campaign. The community level is simply to intimate. So yeah, “direct democracy” by simple majority might work at that low a level.

          • KJT

            That is what I am trying to say.

            Swiss democracy has many things we would do well to emulate.

            Discussions are made at a local level. Their Government is more of an analogue to our local Government/councils than our present centralised dictatorship.

            If you include our present local Government as politicians we are not really adding to the number.

            The fact that decisions which are not in the best interests of voters may cause a referendum puts a brake on the type of hasty ill thought out legislation our Governments are prone to.

            In fact referendums do not occur often because politicians know they have to justify legislation with evidence, to convince voters to allow it.

            Because political decisions start at community level you are much more likely to have changes that are supported by those most affected.

            We know from business that the closer you keep decision making to the coal face, the more people involved and the more alternatives explored, the better the decision. Almost the opposite of what we do now.

            You may argue with some decisions made by the Swiss, but it is hard to argue with how successful their society is.

            Another advantage is if the RWNJ’s want a State with no social insurance, no taxes and no rules they can try it in one province without destroying the whole country. If they can get enough voters to support them.

            If the Maori party in Northland want to try their own Whanau-ora program, why not, if the Northland voters decide they want it.

  2. prism 2

    Another thing is to keep the number of pollies to reasonable size. Instead of going from 60 to a probable 76 why don’t we allow for more people per electorate as NZ grows. There may have to be a limit put on size of large electorates. We could have one MP covering most of the South Island which is unfair to the individual MP/MPs being very stretched and people who want face to face consultation having to go kms or resort to skype-type service.

    But just getting more pollies won’t give us better government or policies, and just be more out of our pockets. Even in private enterprise leaders don’t get noticeably pinged when they fail, and pollies will soak up all the money they are due and more with no betterment for their presence, rather the opposite.

    • mike e 2.1

      Democracy is democracy and what ever price we pay its better than the alternatives.
      We have the lowest representation per head per any small democracy.
      Peters is washed up idiot who is signing his own death warrant because its unlikely that he will get back in next time as their was a labour dissertion last time to NZfirst.

    • McFlock 2.2

      I reckon:
      1 MP per 30000 voters (or less) calculated by ElectionsNZ.
      1 list mp for every electorate MP. 
      Multiple parallel sessions of the House (needs tweaking), and every MP has to vote themselves, although they can lodge votes in advance or remotely.
      No proxy votes. Not even for members of the same party.
      Maybe stagger the elections – everyone gets a 3 year term, but in two or three overlapping cycles. 
      No opinion polls during the election campaign. 
      All crudely thought out, but I think in the right direction. 

      • Lanthanide 2.2.1

        “Maybe stagger the elections – everyone gets a 3 year term, but in two or three overlapping cycles.”

        Expensive, and in extreme cases could lead to governments changing every year, or the PM changing every year, with very schizophrenic results.

        The US has senators that have terms of 6 years, but there’s an election for some class of senators every 2 years, as we recently saw this went from a Democrat controlled senate to a Republican one, greatly reducing the effectiveness of Obama’s government. Another aspect of always having someone up for re-election each year is that there’ll always be some level of campaign going on.

        • Draco T Bastard

          but there’s an election for some class of senators every 2 years, as we recently saw this went from a Democrat controlled senate to a Republican one, greatly reducing the effectiveness of Obama’s government.

          That’s actually the problem of dual house governments. If one set of politicians controls one house and another set the other then nothing much gets passed.

          • McFlock

            Or the objective – stability in democracy, not revolution.
            Part of the issue in the states is their funding control, or lack thereof. Breeds panic. 
            Anyway, I’m not so sure how expensive it would be if juggled right – maybe do the electorate mps alongside the local body elections?
            I wasn’t actually thinking bicameral, just that the house has more than one debate in each step of legislation, and members can’t just proxy their vote to the party – they need to vote specifically on each and every item.  

    • Oscar 2.3

      Lets just have 120 electorate seats and do away with the party vote.

      Now that’s true representation.

      Then the next step once people are used to only selecting the MP for their electorate… educating people on how to use STV.

      Then we will end up with a Parliament that is elected solely by the people. It certainly doesn’t stop parties from forming to try and take a bloc of seats.

      This then means that each electorate would be comprised of around 37500 people.

      Who has a credible argument against it?

  3. tracey 3

    No pete george defending his leader who despute reassuring us his objective in opposing wasnt self interest, smacked of self interest. Contrast with peters comments.

  4. Mikesh 4

    I don’t really see what “abolishing overhangs” entails. How would such an arrangement work?

  5. The Electoral Committee has well and truly stuffed the Nacts.
    There is no way that they can ever hold Government again, without say Winston, who with the Mana are the greatest recipients of this recommendation.
    Well done Peden – you deserve a medal.

    • tracey 5.1

      it hasnt been accepted yet.

    • chris73 5.2

      I dunno, the conservative religious nutter might get a few votes (maybe even in south auckland ;)) and maybe (its a big maybe) if act dump banks and bring up some of their younger challenge…

  6. Uh, I’m going to call princess bride on this post.

    Disproportionality refers specifically to the proportion of the party vote received to the number of seats in an MMP system. An electorate-only party is a cause of disproportionality, not a victim of it, and while abolishing the overhang may be bad for the Maori Party, that has nothing to do with disproportionality hurting them.

    I hope that this change will lead to the Maori Party better representing its constituency and growing its party vote to a level of support where it achieves a similar amount of seats in parliament to how many it has now.

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