It’s back in the news with Brendan Horan, but what to do in a party-based system like MMP with an MP who is no longer in their party?
Many feel it is a problem for List MPs, but in truth most electorate MPs are there because of party rather than individual support as well. If they leave their party, there is usually a feeling they should have a by-election to renew their mandate – and that option is open to them (as Hone and Tariana did). Their mandate is local, so those locals can be polled again.
But a List MP’s mandate is national. It’s often misinterpreted to be for the party they were elected with, but MPs are meant to represent all New Zealanders, not just those who voted for their party (even electorate MPs are meant to put the national interest over local desires, thus avoiding pork-barrel politics).
I doubt many of us desire a nationwide referendum on any MP who has a party dispute – and I’m sure the MP and the party would hate it…
One point I’d like to make that it is the party – not the caucus of a party – that gets MPs elected. They select them for their electorates or the list. So if an MP gets ejected from their caucus, that shouldn’t be seen as waka-jumping – when they leave or get ejected from their party that’s when any new law should be triggered. If a caucus is running roughshod over party principles and one MP stands up for them, they should never be ejected from parliament for that.
Of course that could give the intriguing situation where the party ejects MPs it feels aren’t doing the job, even if caucus has no problem with them… Which might be great, but as turkeys rarely vote for Christmas any waka-jumping law probably needs to be on ejection from both caucus and party.
And it should be for both list and electorate MPs. Electorate MPs of course would have the chance to come back on a by-election.
The Herald has the idea of the Speaker deciding on a party’s application to have the MP removed. I quite like that.
Except I’d have it that once a party (and okay, maybe caucus as well) ejects an MP they are out, unless they wish to appeal to the Speaker – who could then act as a judge, taking both sides case.
Does that seem a fair law? It might cause an inconvenient by-election, but it treats all MPs equally, as MMP is meant to. It provides an appeal for fair justice, and it keeps a party’s representation in the normal case.