web analytics
The Standard

The emerging consensus to keep MMP

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, September 14th, 2009 - 18 comments
Categories: MMP - Tags:

Unexpectedly, a consensus is emerging to keep MMP. A search of the Herald, Stuff and other sites shows that most editorial pages and political commentators are against changing systems, citing MMP as fair and a check on the unbridled power the largest party enjoyed under First Past the Post*. The only notable exception is Fran O’Sullivan, shilling as usual for the anti-democratic interests of the business elite.

Recent polls have shown MMP is the favoured electoral system of 45%-53% of the population. A large portion have no opinion and the remainder are probably split between favouring FFP, SM, or STV. Support for MMP might not be unanimous but it is far and away the most popular system and there is no clamour for change.

Having been anti-MMP before its introduction, there is now little appetite from either major party to change it.

Although John Key supports Supplementary Member (described as FPP with a winner’s bonus) he is clearly not too keen on a change and even less keen on the business elite’s hope of sneaking through a change in a low-turnout (ie right-biased) mid-term referendum. Key says that he doesn’t sense a mood for change and that any vote has to be at a general election to ensure high turnout, otherwise it will lack legitimacy.

Phil Goff has proposed some changes to MMP – no proportionality for parties not exceeding the threshold (eg ACT in 2008), more electorate MPs and fewer from the lists (we have a guest post coming critiquing that idea), and a ban on List MPs waka-jumping – but Labour is now committed to MMP because it is fair and has brought a greater diversity of voices into Parliament.

While I’m not convinced with all of Labour’s initial suggestions, I think Goff has the right idea here – acknowledge that there are some aspects of MMP that the public is dissatisfed with and go into the election offering ways to fix those specific problems without getting rid of the best electoral system around.

Offering the public a choice of throwing out the bathwater while keeping the baby would be popular. Just as importantly, it would show that Labour really is listening. The trick will be in making sure they actually do.

* or, as in 1978 and 1981, the party that came second in the popular vote.

18 comments on “The emerging consensus to keep MMP”

  1. George D 1

    I’ve been looking at the past wistfully, and thinking what might have been had MMP been put in place any time between 78 and 96.

    Anyone on the left who doesn’t support a truly proportional system is very stupid and has a very short memory. I’m glad Labour is now in favour.

  2. “Phil Goff has proposed some changes to MMP”

    no he hasn’t. this was a remit from christchurch, supported by hon lianne dalziell & voted on by the conference. has phil actually made public his views on this remit? and if he has, can we have a link please?

    • Bright Red 2.1

      On Q+A Goff mentioned the 80:40 seats idea didn’t he?

    • Ari 2.2

      While more electorates might make FPP supporters happy, it would also increase the likelyhood of overhangs, and it would probably make electorate votes even more of a low-vote contest than they are now. Usually only the two highest candidates in an electorate even get into the thousands of electorate votes in NZ, which is not exactly a great recipe for robust candidate selection.

      Also, the changes that Labour has suggested, in true Labour fashion, are designed to lock out the more problematic minor parties and give them an advantage in forming governments. Much better to set the threshold to winning a single seat outright from the list vote- then you never have to worry about piggybacking, just the effect of below-threshold electorate MPs, the overhang, and independent MPs.

  3. 80:40 seat split will also mean about 10 Maori seats. Be careful for what you wish for.

  4. Jasper 4

    The other changes that should be made
    – reduce the threshold for party vote to 4%
    – if the party doesn’t reach the 4%, but they win an electorate, then only that electorate MP can enter parliament. Therefore only Hide would be in Parliament.
    – if the party does reach 4%, and has an electorate, then they enter Parliament
    – if a list MP leaves the party, they’re booted from Parliament. i.e. Gordon Copeland
    – if an electorate MP leaves the party, they’re still in Parliament as they’re democratically elected by the people of the electorate so can’t ride roughshod over their views.
    – if an MP chooses to run in an electorate, they cannot then also have the safety net of the list to enter parliament should they not win an electorate. It should be all or nothing.

    • Edosan 4.1

      I agree with all of those except the last one. A party might potentially want a particular individual and put them high on the list, but I don’t think that should stop that individual from also contesting an electorate if they wish, and if they feel they can handle the extra workload.

    • Yeah – with that rule, you’re basically saying that no-one from the Greens can run in an electorate. They’re not running to win the electorate, but why shouldn’t they be able to turn up to meet the candidates meetings etc.?

      Have you a particular reason why you’d like the threshold as high as 4%?

      • Ari 4.2.1

        Well, to be fair, the Greens run plenty of candidates for electorates that are well down the list. What it would mean, however, is that minor parties winning significant amounts of list votes would need to have an exhaustive supply of candidates to run in any electorates at all, which I think is pretty undemocratic.

        Not entirely sure whether I agree or disagree with List MPs that leave or are removed from their party being kicked out in favour of the next MP. I mean, on the one hand, people voted for their party, not them specifically, but on the other hand, the list is a promise of who to bring, and people vote for that too, and it should be something that parties make an investment in and a commitment to.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.1

          the list is a promise of who to bring, and people vote for that too,

          They do?

          I’d be highly surprised if more than a few percent of voters ever looked at the lists prior to the election simply because most people don’t have the time.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    I understand that some Countries with party lists allow an option to change the order of the list.
    So you can choose them in a different order to what you are given.

    Jasper , all or nothing wouldnt work as you can loose very experienced MPs and also leads to gerrymandering of the electorate boundarys. Yes they do have major dustups over whether this or that suburb should be in various electorates, the two major parties are included on the boundary commission

  6. Jasper 6

    Then experienced MPs shouldn’t need to worry about losing an electorate then should they ghost?

    What would stop an experienced MP from knowing their seat is potentially marginal, and opting for the list, thereby allowing a newcomer to run in the electorate?

    Could help with better rejuvenation, and means that the experience is still kept within the parties?

  7. Maynard J 7

    Has a joke party ever achieved representation in a modern, or at least recent democracy?

    I was thinking about what would happen if the threshold was dropped low enough that someone like the Bill & Ben party could get in. A living testament to political apathy and ignorance – I can not for the life of me figure out whether that is a fundamentally bad thing or not.

    • Ron 7.1

      In answer to your question – “joke party” seems and apt description of ACT, I’m Jim Anderton Party and Future NZ. Oh – and NZ First, actually.

      • Maynard J 7.1.1

        For joke parties, they take themselves damn seriously. If that is part of the joke, the Hide gets a friggen Oscar in my books.

        • Pascal's bookie 7.1.1.1

          I can not for the life of me figure out whether that is a fundamentally bad thing or not.?

          If they get the votes I say let ’em in. Having the threshold actually encourages these votes as it’s a meaningful protest/signifier of apathy. I’m pretty sure that if the threshold was set at enough votes to earn 1 seat, then there would be less of these votes.

          But even if they get in, so what?

          Similar thing with n8zi parties, and other fringe nutters. If they have the votes then I think we are better off having them involved. These parties would be left to rant on the oppo back bench. Their supporters would at least feel included which, (not that it’s much of a problem in NZ), would prevent them going paranoid and violent.

          There is next to no chance of them having any meaningful influence on policy, any major party that relies on them will be punished accordingly. Even if they held the ballance of power, I think a grand coalition would be more likely than a “(nat or lab) + dangerously weirdo” coalition.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Communities forced to stomach water woes
    Confirmation by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman that he is to wind up a water quality improvement scheme will leave thousands of Kiwis with no alternative but to continue boiling their drinking water, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. The Drinking… ...
    28 mins ago
  • Labour calls for immediate humanitarian aid for Nepal
    The Government should act immediately to help with earthquake relief efforts in Nepal, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “The Nepalese Government is appealing for international assistance following yesterday’s massive quake. The full impact is only now being realised… ...
    30 mins ago
  • New holiday reflects significance of Anzac Day
    Anzac Day now has the full recognition that other public holidays have long enjoyed, reflecting the growing significance it has to our sense of identity and pride as a nation, Labour MP David Clark says.“The importance of the 100th Gallipoli… ...
    32 mins ago
  • Housing crisis hurting export growth
    If Steven Joyce wants to revive his failing export growth target he needs to make sure the Government gets to grips with the housing crisis, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson. “Our exporters are struggling to compete… ...
    3 days ago
  • Gallipoli’s lesson: never forget, never repeat
     A special monument to one of our greatest war heroes should be a priority for the new Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “This will honour the spirit of Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, who led 760… ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister for who? Women, or Team Key?
    Louise Upston yesterday broke her silence on John Key’s repeated unwanted touching of a woman who works at his local café, to jump to the defence of her Boss. Upston repeated Key’s apology but, according to media reports “she refused… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Taxpayer bucks backing US billionaire
    Kiwis will be horrified to know they are backing a Team Oracle subsidiary owned by a US billionaire, Labour’s Sports and Recreation spokesperson Trevor Mallard says. It has been revealed today that a Warkworth boat building company, which is wholly… ...
    4 days ago
  • English’s sins of omission: ‘Nothing left to be done’ on housing
    When Bill English said ‘there is nothing left to be done’ on the Auckland housing crisis he had overlooked a few things – a few things, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.  “He’s right if you ignore: ...
    4 days ago
  • Climate change now hurts Kiwis
    Kiwis have twice been given timely and grave warnings on how climate change will hit them in their hip pockets this week, says Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods.  “The first is the closure of the Sanford mussel plant and the… ...
    4 days ago
  • Clean, green and chocolate!
    Like many people I absolutely love chocolate! But until recently I hadn’t given much thought to how it was grown and produced. Fair trade and ethical food production are core Green Party principles, so yesterday Steffan Browning and I were… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    4 days ago
  • National admits loan shark law not up to it
    National has admitted new laws to crack down on loan sharks, truck shops and dodgy credit merchants aren’t up to the task of protecting vulnerable consumers, Labour’s Commerce spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. “Paul Goldsmith has acknowledged the laws might just… ...
    4 days ago
  • Power and the Prime Minister
    I’d like to acknowledge the young woman* who has publically told her story. It was a very brave thing to do. She kept her story very simple and focussed on her experience of what happened. It told of unwanted attention… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • Extra holiday offers time to reflect
    The Mondayisation of Anzac Day provides New Zealanders with an opportunity to spend more time with their families and their communities, Dunedin North Labour MP David Clark says. “This is the first time legislation I introduced, to have Anzac and… ...
    4 days ago
  • More angst and anguish for red zone locals
    Local residents will be bitterly disappointed by the Government’s cherry picking of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding compensation for red zoned property owners, Labour Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson and Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson says. “Home owners have taken all… ...
    5 days ago
  • Australia shows why we need a sovereign wealth fund now
    Australia has not managed its great mining boom well, says HSBC’s chief economist for Australia and New Zealand, Paul Bloxham. When times are good, governments need to save for the bad times that will inevitably follow, and this can be… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    5 days ago
  • Pure Water- pure rip off
    New Zealanders’ rights to fresh water must be protected before commercial allocations are given, but the Government is allowing resources to be taken, says Kelvin Davis MP for Te Tai Tokerau.  “The Government needs to resolve the issue of water… ...
    5 days ago
  • Cabinet paper reveals weak case for Iraq deployment
    A heavily redacted copy of a Cabinet paper on New Zealand’s military deployment to Iraq reveals how weak the case is for military involvement in that conflict, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff.  The paper warns that given the failure… ...
    5 days ago
  • Malaysia’s booty is Kiwis’ lost homeownership dream
    It’s unsurprising the Auckland property market is so overheated when Malaysians are being told they can live large on Kiwi’s hard-earned rent money, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “A Malaysian property website lists nearly 4000 New Zealand houses and… ...
    5 days ago
  • Ministry’s food safety resources slashed to the bone
    The Ministry for Primary Industries’ failure to monitor toxic and illegal chemicals in red meat is a dereliction of duty, Labour’s Primary Industries and Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “MPI compliance officer Gary Orr today admitted National’s much-vaunted super… ...
    5 days ago
  • Ministry must protect organic food industry
    The Ministry for Primary Industries must take urgent action to protect New Zealand’s $150 million organic food and beverage industry by establishing a certification regime, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Despite working with Organics Aotearoa on the issue… ...
    6 days ago
  • Tony Abbott, indigenous rights, and refugees
    This week, Tony Abbott has visited Aotearoa New Zealand, bringing with him his racist policies against indigenous Australians and his appalling record on refugee detention camps. Abbott has launched a policy “to close” remote aboriginal communities, which is about as… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    6 days ago
  • PM’s housing outburst bizarre
    Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford has described the Prime Minister’s latest comments on the Auckland housing crisis as bizarre. “John Key is deep in denial. He must be one of the only people left who are not concerned about the risk… ...
    7 days ago
  • Deflation: Another economic headache linked to housing crisis
    National’s housing crisis is causing even further damage with the second consecutive quarter of deflation a genuine concern the Reserve Bank can do little about, as it focusses on Auckland house prices, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “This is… ...
    7 days ago
  • Pot calling the kettle black over fossil fuel subsidies.
    Over the weekend alongside nine other countries the New Zealand Government has endorsed a statement that supports eliminating inefficient subsidies on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel subsidies are a big driver of increasing emissions. Good on the Government for working internationally… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    7 days ago
  • At last – a common sense plan for Christchurch
    The Common Sense Plan for Christchurch released by The People’s Choice today is a welcome relief from the shallow debate about rates rises versus asset sales, Labour’s Christchurch MPs say. "Local residents – who have spent weeks trawling through the… ...
    1 week ago
  • National must lead by example on climate change
    The National Government must meet its own climate change obligations before it preaches to the rest of the world, Labour's Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods says. "Calls today by Climate Change Minister Tim Groser for an end to fossil fuel… ...
    1 week ago
  • Biosecurity rethink a long time
    The Government has opened New Zealand’s borders to biosecurity risks and its rethinking of bag screening at airports is an admission of failure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. Nathan Guy today announced a review of biosecurity systems in… ...
    1 week ago
  • Chinese rail workers must be paid minimum wage
    KiwiRail must immediately stop further Chinese engineers from working here until they can guarantee they are being paid the New Zealand minimum wage, Labour’s MP for Hutt South Trevor Mallard says. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment today released… ...
    1 week ago
  • Better consultation needed on Christchurch asset sales
    The Christchurch City Council (CCC) should be promoting wide and genuine public consultation on its draft ten year budget and plan given the serious implications for the city’s future of its proposed asset sales, outlined in the plan. Instead, it… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    1 week ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    1 week ago
  • No more sweet talk on obesity
    The Government should be looking at broader measures to combat obesity rather than re-hashing pre-announced initiatives, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.  “While it is encouraging to see the Government finally waking from its slumber and restoring a focus on… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government two-faced on zero-hour contracts
    The Government should look to ban zero-hour contracts in its own back yard before getting too high and mighty about other employers using them, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Information collated by Labour shows at least three district health… ...
    1 week ago
  • Scrutiny of battlefield deaths should continue
    As New Zealand troops head to Iraq under a shroud of secrecy, the Government is pushing ahead with legislation to remove independent scrutiny of incidents where Kiwi soldiers are killed in hostile action overseas, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says.… ...
    1 week ago
  • Damp-free homes a right for tenants
    Labour is urging tenants to use a little known rule which gives them the right to live in damp-free rental homes. Otago University researchers have today highlighted the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 as a way tenants can force landlords to… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must take action on speculators
    The Government must take action on property speculators who are damaging the housing market and shutting families and young people out of the home ownership dream, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “There are a number of options the Government could… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Milk price halves: A $7b economic black hole
    Global milk prices have halved since the peak last year, creating an economic black hole of almost $7 billion that will suck in regions reliant on dairy, crucial industries and the Government’s books, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kitchen plan set to swallow up health boards’ funds
    The financial impacts of implementing a proposal to outsource hospital food, forced on them by a crown-owned company which is now facing an auditor-general’s inquiry, are being felt by district health boards across the country, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Reserve Bank scathing of Government
    The Reserve Bank’s most scathing critique to date of National’s inability to handle the housing crisis shows the Bank is sick of having to pick up the pieces, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “John Key continues to deny there is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for McDonald’s to upsize work hours
    Labour is calling on McDonald’s to have more respect for their workers and offer them more guaranteed work hours. McDonald’s is proposing to guarantee its workers 80 per cent of their rostered hours, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Brownlee misses the boat on asbestos
    Gerry Brownlee has once again missed an opportunity to improve the lives of Cantabrians post-earthquakes, Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. A new report from the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser,… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must come clean on troop deployment and protections
    New Zealanders deserve more than to hear about their troops’ deployment overseas from Australian media, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “News from Australia that Kiwi troops are on their way to Iraq this week is another example of the culture… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Cancer prevention calls gain momentum
    Research showing bowel cancer treatment sucks up more public health dollars than other cancers once again highlights the need for a national screening programme, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A study by Otago University, which found colon cancer is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Burger King shows zero-hour contracts not needed
    The abandonment of zero-hour contracts by Burger King is further evidence good employers do not need to use them, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. "Congratulations to the Unite Union and Burger King for settling an employment agreement… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis deserve more than reheats
    The Government looks set to rely on regurgitated announcements for this year’s Budget if today’s speech is anything to go by, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “National has been building up to this Budget for seven long years, promising a… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Landlords not cashing in on insulation schemes
    The fact so few landlords have taken up the generous taxpayer subsidy for retrofitting shows it is time to legislate minimum standards, says Labour’s Associate Housing spokesperson Poto Williams. “Many landlords aren’t using Government insulation schemes because they don’t want… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Zero excuses, end zero hour contracts now
    It’s time Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse cut the weasel words and banned zero hour contracts, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Michael Woodhouse today acknowledged zero hour contracts are unfair. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • We’ve reached Peak Key with ‘artificial target’
    John Key’s attempt to redefine his cornerstone promise of two election campaigns as an artificial target suggests his other promises are works of fiction, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “For seven years and two election campaigns, John Key has… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Top 10 need to know facts on climate change
    All the numbers and stats around climate change can be confusing, so we’ve put together a handy list of the top 10 numbers about climate change that we should all know- and then do something about. You can sign up here to… ...
    GreensBy Frog
    2 weeks ago
  • Campbell Live a bastion of investigative journalism
    The announcement that current affairs programme Campbell Live is under review and may be axed has sparked outrage from the New Zealand public, for good reason, says Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran. “Investigative journalism is a precious resource in today’s… ...
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere