While the news is full of the Pike River debacle (yet another failure of National’s self-regulatory fantasies) and the blogs are full of derision on John Key’s idiotic statements and ‘clarifications’, I’m more interested in the MMP review. Colin James has expressed my response to Judith Collin’s politicialising of the MMP review in a short post.
The Minister of Justice says she will seek consensus from the political parties about what aspects of the Electoral Commission’s MMP reform proposals to implement.
And it is the wrong process.
Elections do not belong to MPs. Elections belong to the people. MPs should be very wary of appropriating what belongs to others.
The democratically correct course for Judith Collins would be to get legislation drafted to implement the commission’s proposals as they stand.
As Colin points out quite succinctly, politicians have a vested interest in making the electoral system advantageous to themselves. This can be clearly heard in the bleating from both Act and United Future, both of whom can be described these days as parties that have failed to do anything in the political landscape over the last few years apart from being bribed as individual sockpuppets of National.
It was exactly this type of stupid politicking by politicians intent on gerrymandering their ‘natural’ constituencies that caused the distortions in the original introduction of MMP that this review is trying to fix. Having a repeat of the same political stupidities by short-term objectives as happened in 1993-6 is unacceptable.
It is pretty clear that the Electoral Commission got it exactly right. Sure there are things that people would have liked to have gone further. But the recommendations accurately reflect the general consensus of the discussions that I’ve seen argued on this blog over the last 5 years. Most politically aware people wouldn’t like everything in this set of patches. But almost all of the noisy audience here will feel comfortable with enough of it to prefer it to doing a brief whitewash – which is what I expect National to politick itself to (as they did back in the 90’s).
Better here to develop an independent body (with more skill and depth and breadth of representation than the Electoral Commission) to review, write and administer electoral law. Of course, the law would still need Parliament’s approval. But MPs might be more circumspect about something that belongs to the people, not to them.
And that is really the point. Politics is too important to let the politicians controlling their own destinies