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A return to elected dictatorship?

Written By: - Date published: 1:17 pm, September 5th, 2009 - 53 comments
Categories: democracy under attack - Tags:

Back in the days of First Past the Post elections, we had what Geoffery Palmer termed ‘the fastest law in the West’ and the Prime Minister was effectively an elected dictator. The PM controlled Cabinet, the Cabinet controlled caucus of the majority party in what was by design a two-party system (in Parliament, there were popular parties that couldn’t get in) and the majority party could vote through whatever it liked. Even the check on power provided by a second house in most democracies was missing.

This wasn’t even a tyranny of the majority. The ruling party that held a majority of seats in the House usually got those seats with well short of a majority of the votes. In the last FFP election, National won just 35.05% of the votes, 0.37% more than labour, but won 50 electorates giving it an unassailable majority in the then 99-seat House.

There was no proportionality. In 1993, National won 35% of the votes and 50% of the seats, Labour 34.5% of the votes and 45% of the seats, the Alliance 18% of the votes and 2% of the seats, New Zealand First 8% of the votes and 2% of the seats. Just as bad, there was no guarantee that even the most popular of the two parties would govern. In both 1978 and 1981, Labour won more votes than National but National won more seats. Muldoon, who should have been a one-term PM, ruled for nine years.

Unless you supported a major party and lived in a swing electorate or a safe electorate for your party, your vote couldn’t lead to an MP sitting in Parliament on your behalf.

Small parties couldn’t get a foothold because the barrier of winning an electorate seat when competing against two major parties was near insurmountable. The Alliance and NZF were only in because their leaders had defected from National and Labour respectively. Social Credit won between 6% and 20% of the vote for over 30 years but only won a total of six seats during that time. Despite winning over 5% of the vote in 1975, Values didn’t get any seats and gradually faded away.

Because it was an effective two party system, supporters of a party had no real way elect a party that represented their views if the major party on their side of the spectrum moved towards the policies of the opposition. The Fourth Labour Government held unbreakable 17 seat majorities in its two terms despite winning only 43% and 48% of the vote. It betrayed its supporters by moving sharply to the Right. What were those supporters to do? Vote for the Tories? That wasn’t going to solve the problem of having a right-wing government. Or vote for a minor party? That’s what we would do under MMP but under FFP that was just wasting your vote. There was no option to vote for a party that represented their views and had a chance of getting a fair number of seats in Parliament. Some wasted their votes on the Greens, some went to NewLabour (5% of voters represented by one seat), many (holding their noses) went to National, and about 10% of Labour’s previous voters just stayed home.

FFP was unjust and disenfranchising. It was a Clayton’s democracy that gave no voice to those with non-mainstream views, who were predominately of the Left.

That suited the ruling capitalist class just fine. Their party held complete power most of the time despite only getting over 50% support once, beating Labour by less than 0.5% twice, and losing to Labour on votes twice. FFP was a system guaranteed to deliver a National victory most of the time in a country where most of the votes in most elections went to Labour or minor left-wing parties.

No wonder the business elite, led by Peter Shirtcliffe, fought MMP so hard. Shirtcliffe spent a fortune but he was beaten by a grassroots movement that was sickened by the perversions of democracy in the 1978-1993 elections. MMP has finally given a voice to the disenfranchised and curtailed the power to ram legislation through Parliament. Now, the business elite are going to get a referendum on MMP that they believe will see a change to FFP or its cousin SupplementaryMember. Shirtcliffe wants the referendum next year so 2011 can be held under FFP or SM. In the words of Fran O’Sullivan:

Fighting the next election on an electoral system – even First Past the Post – which gave more power to the major party to implement sensible policies would do more to even the gap with Australia than endless horsetrading.

That ‘endless horsetrading’ that Fran refers to is called democracy. Fran and the business elite would rather go back to the days when Parliament represented them, and a government didn’t have to find coalitions of parties representing a majority of the population to pass laws. Calling for “more power to the major party to implement sensible policies” is a call to silence the rest of us, to remove anyone who dissents from the government of the day from the decision-making process. It’s a call for elected dictatorship.

Well, Fran, you can tell your business mates that when they try to take away our democracy, they’ll have a fight on their hands. Kiwis aren’t dumb, they know your game. They know who will win from a return to FFP and they know that they would lose. We’re not going back to your elected dictatorship.

53 comments on “A return to elected dictatorship? ”

  1. Swampy 1

    Everyone knows that proportional representation tries to scratch every itch and so it is just a recipe for small parties to get elected on extremist platforms and divide the vote.

    PR is the cause celebre of political extremists and loose cannons who cannot work within a big party where the coalitions are effectively formed before the election and where the majority process ensures that these parties represent a wide range of viewpoints and have sensible policies.

    Your references to “ruling capitalist class” suggest you sit somewhere out onto those fringes so I would take your comments along with most of the Greens Party and other hard left with a grain of salt.

    • Marty G 1.1

      What’s wrong with a party with 7% of the people’s support having 7% of the seats in Parliament?

      Why do those 7% have no right to a proportionate voice but 44% of people have a right to an above proportionate voice?

      captcha: fairly

  2. Swampy 2

    All of the claims made by the Greens who spearheaded the MMP campaign and have put themselves as the guardians of it ever since have not been borne out.

    Sue Bradford with her anti democratic anti smacking Bill is the most visible example of this. She cannot justify that her measure was democratic in any shape or form and her party has a dangerous extremist totalitarian viewpoint in justifying the way that she got this measure into Parliament and passed into law.

    When you have a PR system this is how political extremists get political power because they would never get it under an FPP system or they would be marginalised. FPP is a good system for weeding out political fringe minority viewpoints. Our MMP experiment just gives these people a voice and as such it is not a better system than FPP.

    • Marty G 2.1

      Swampy. Thanks to MMP, you aren’t stuck with National now that Key has betrayed you on smacking. You can vote ACT or you can band together and vote for some Christian Party. Under FFP, you would just have to suck it up because you would have no other choice than National.

    • rocky 2.2

      Swampy both the major parties in parliament voted for the section 59 amendment, so I’m not really sure how you can blame that solely on the Greens being represented in parliament.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Swampy, you just proved everything that Marty said.

  4. burt 4

    Marty G

    Labour (and National for that matter) are still fighting MMP. The “Two ticks Labour” (and two ticks National) are a dim-bulb attempt to return to the good old days when one party had complete control.

    Not much will change as long as supporters of major parties continue to support them doing heinous undemocratic things like validating theft of tax payers money and killing off standing court cases to protect the best interests of dishonest crooked self serving leaders rather than the best interests of democracy.

    Are you proud to support a party that fights the elections in an FPP way and uses the power of parliament to run rough shod over democratic process ?

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      And then the present government jumped in and passed massive amounts of law under urgency for their own benefit and the benefit of it’s anonymous supporters.

      Your comment about theft is complete bollix as has been pointed out to you time and time again.

      • burt 4.1.1

        Draco T Bastard

        The supporters of the current govt are less anonymous than the supporters of the last govt. And as for complete bollix – I think you have the upper hand there my friend.

  5. burt 5

    Marty G.

    The fastest law makers in the west comment by Sir Geoffrey Palmer was in relation to the lack of constraint on parliament being able to pass any law it likes, rather than the fact we had an FPP govt. The last Labour-led govt passing shit under urgency to serve their own best interests illustrates very clearly that FPP or MMP is not the issue with that concern. The issue is that a simple majority of 61 people is all that is required to do any bloody thing they like in their own best interests.

    Last year Matthew Hooten made a credible case for having an upper house and I guess because Labour were the elected dictators of the time that suggestion was rubbished on this blog. I wonder how that suggestion would be received today by the supporters of the ousted dictatorship now that they are watching some other elected dictator acting as they like irrespective of the voters?

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      How does having two houses get rid of the problem that you highlight considering that it’s endemic to party politics?

      • burt 5.1.1

        Draco

        Legislation is not enacted without scrutiny as currently happens today.

        NZ with it’s half Westminster system is basically a dictatorship, the structure of governance has no checks and balances.

        Apart from “dictatorship and proud of it” forms of governance NZ is basically alone in having a supreme law maker with no checks and balances while calling itself a democracy.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1

          Yes, I’m aware of that. I still can’t find a better representative system. Constitutional systems tend to be more static and less capable of flexibility in the light of new knowledge and circumstances.

          I’d also argue that we do have checks and balances as well. The AGs review of electoral finance in 2k5 that saw all parties except Progressive overspend in the election is one such check. Another is elections every three years but I’d say that taht is more of a sledge hammer than a check.

          • burt 5.1.1.1.1

            Draco

            I’d also argue that we do have checks and balances as well. The AGs review of electoral finance in 2k5 that saw all parties except Progressive overspend in the election is one such check.

            Excellent example, the AG said that the law had been broken and parliament unconstrained by anything said it hadn’t and overruled the AG’s decision. (denigrating him in the process). The self serving muppets didn’t want to be held accountable so they made sure they were not.

            Are you deliberately being a dumb fuck using this example ?

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1.1.1

              No, I was using it specifically. The AG changed the interpretation from what had been the understood interpretation since that act had been written. It’s an example of how written language can be twisted which I consider a major failing of written constitutions. Hell, even the person who wrote it held a different interpretation than the AG and that is telling you (or at least should be but I’m sure you’re making up some form of justification) how wrong the AG was with his reinterpretation.

              But it still works as an example to show that parliament has checks on it.

            • burt 5.1.1.1.1.2

              So there was no need to test the law in a court as happens to normal people who are accused of breaking the law by senior govt officials. – Great the dictator knows best about when he/she has broken the law eh.

              You stuffed up here Draco….

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1.1.3

              You stuffed up here Draco .

              No, I didn’t.

              I’m sure you’re making up some form of justification

              Called it perfectly.

            • burt 5.1.1.1.1.4

              Darco

              So have I understood what you are saying;

              When a senior govt official such as the Auditor General says that certain people in parliament broke the law it is valid for parliament to tell him the shut the fuck up and pass validations for their activities?

              If this is what you are say (that status quo law breaking by politicians trumps the law) then please spell it out clearly so that that when National validate allegations of breaching laws I can quote this back at you.

              Shit I despair of partisan hatchet men like you – It’s OK when it’s in Labour’s best interest… blah blah blah parliament know more about the law.. blah blah…

              Why even pretend that politicians are bound by the rule of law when partisan apologists like you advocate lawlessness by the law makers.

              Labour validating accusations of breach of law to kill off a court case is exactly how I would expect a dictator to act – supported of course by partisan hacks like you.

    • lprent 5.2

      Parliament has always had that ability. Of course you’re ignoring that all bills under Labour apart from those related to government finance went through select committees for public input. Outside of finance bills, urgency was only used by Labour for sittings of the house, not to rush bills through all three readings without even going to select committee.

      At present I’d say that the majority of bills this government has passed have used urgency and most of those ignored select committee.

      Which government is worse at misusing parliaments privileges? Labour or NACT? Please justify with something more than your usual empty lines….

      So far it looks like NACT are trying to move to a parliamentary dctatorship

      • burt 5.2.1

        lprent

        Get off the partisan hackery trip for a minute. Is being anti democratic when determining how parties can influence election outcomes suddenly OK in your book? For gods sake man – being undemocratic about passing laws that control democracy is actually about as corrupt as parliament can become.

        • lprent 5.2.1.1

          Burt: I’m more interested in government following the process that is already in place.

          I can’t see any basis that a upper house can be put into place that isn’t inequitable. To be precise I oppose the changes to Auckland’s governance for exactly the same reasons – too few representatives makes it unrepresentative. Besides how would you elect it? The senator for the West Coast? Which part? The senator for Auckland? Which part? If you read back in history – that was why the upper house was shutdown the first time.

          At the time MMP was put in, I was a firm opponent . However I’ve come to enjoy it’s interesting charms of spreading representation. One of the great things about MMP is that it forces explicit horse-trading between parties rather than old process of hidden horse-trading between party factions. And there are no cross-party whips plus the ever present danger of internal rebellion and waka-jumping. It forces more care to be done on the bills than used to be done with little internal cabals.

          It has generally resulted in better bills being passed than in the days of Muldoon, Douglas, and Bolger – because they get better scrutiny.

          I’m extremely pissed that this government has been bypassing the select committee procedures. The reason – MP’s are technical idiots. Select committee is a chance for them to get input from the people who know what they’re talking about and who can help with the quality control on the legislation.

          Get off the partisan hackery trip for a minute.

          So you can’t think of an example either where labour bypassed the select committee process apart from finance bills.

          Thought so…

        • burt 5.2.1.2

          I’m not the one who said one form of process abuse was OK but others weren’t. Ban me if you like for saying it – but you are the one justifying shit from Labour while getting pissed about other stuff from National when both are examples of process abuse.

  6. I think MMP as it is, is a bad system.

    I don’t think a party that gets 5% of the vote should hold the other 95% of the country for ransom.

    • Tigger 6.1

      BD – you’ve missed your calling – you should be writing scare-tactic billboard text for the anti-MMP camp.

    • Conal Tuohy 6.2

      This idea that MMP gives more power to extremist minorities than FPP did is plain wrong. What MMP provides is merely an environment in which those groups can be constituted as parties rather than as parliamentary factions.

      Look at the extremist party Act, for instance. It clearly has its roots in parliamentary factions of the Labour and National parties; parties in which this group of extremists did indeed have enormous power. Look at how Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson managed to implement unpopular policies even from within “mainstream” parties. The arrival of MMP has forced, or encouraged, these extremists to form a party of their own, but it’s disingenuous or naive to pretend they didn’t already exist, and wield political power, within the 2-party system of old.

  7. Ianmac 7

    In all major parties there are groups within groups. It has been argued that MMP is a more visible display of those groupings. In both MMP and FPP the trick is to keep all MPs in line. Hence there must be some in the Nats who are far more inclined to Act’s philosophy.
    Hope we can keep MMP although funny how the Single Transferable Vote STV was shuffled off out of sight.

    • burt 7.1

      Ianmac

      What I have found interesting over the years, and I doubt it will change anytime soon, is that the opposition always moan and graon about the need for change when in opposition then refuse to deviate from the status quo when in power.

      The very nature of our parliament ensures that the opposition are ineffective in introducing change and the nature of self serving human nature makes sure that when the opposition become the govt they have no incentive to change.

  8. Rex Widerstrom 8

    I agree with what you’ve written, Marty, but I worry there’s a subtext that suggests anti-MMP = anti democracy.

    I’m anti MMP, because I think we’ve seen the erosion of parts of our democracy at the expense of the strengthening of others.

    Yes, we’ve gained proportionality — the importance of which I don’t underestimate for a moment — but at the expense of, among other things, essentially unelected List MPs whose fealty is not to any electorate and whose conscience and actions are owned by the party machine which determined their ranking.

    Yes, there are ways to circumvent that and the Greens provide an example of a party which has tried very hard and, for the most part, succeeded admirably.

    But MMP as we have it now doesn’t force internal democracy on any party. Indeed as NZF proved in 1996, it can openly ignore an internal voting process and allow the List to be ranked by the Party’s leader, his secretary and a shadowy advisor whose integrity levels had already forced his resignation from Parliament — and the people elected as a result of three votes are considered as legitimate as those elected by many thousands.

    Then there’s the problem, highlighted by Brett Dale above, that circumstances can dictate that a party with 5% (or less – e.g. Act) has an influence vastly in excess of the entitlement that figure suggests.

    Personally I’d like to see STV across smaller electorates, retaining MP numbers at around 120 but tying each one very much to a community, and hopefully ones with more commonality. Though I think Trevor Mallard is a fine local MP, for instance, I’m not sure how well represented I’d feel if I hailed from Eastbourne and not Wainuiomata.

    However I’m willing to be convinced of the merits of other proportional systems, and I don’t want to see a return to FPP. But having given it a chance, I’m firmly convinced MMP doesn’t serve us well — only better than what came before.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      All the points you bring up are endemic to representative democracy and party politics. MMP, despite it’s proportionality, is still a representative democracy.

      There’s really only one answer and that is participatory democracy but that’s aways down the track yet. People have to be persuaded that capitalism is bunk first.

      • Rex Widerstrom 8.1.1

        What about STV in the absence of political parties? Or at least with their influence weakened — partly by the nature of STV itself and partly by some restraints round the way Parliament operates (including, but not limited to, binding referenda)?

        I agree particiaptory democracy is the ideal, and that it’s a way off. So shouldn’t we be trying to create the best halfway point we can? And if so, I’d argue MMP isn’t it.

        [As an aside, I’m not persuaded capitalism is inherently bunk, just the way that it’s been allowed to develop, almost unfettered. Bit like our political system itself, really. I think we can head toward participatory democracy and then let capitalism, socialism and all the other isms find a natural equilibrium through the participatory process, surely?]

        • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1

          What about STV in the absence of political parties?

          How are you going to get rid of them? Legislate against free association? Willing to use the force of the state to back that up?

          I’m not particularly fond of STV but that’s more due to actions by RWNJs to persuade people to only put in one preference effectively trying to turn it back into a FPP vote than by the system itself.

          Political parties are an inherent part of representative democracy simply because people working together is more effective than people working individually. Mutual funds going into research and advertising etc. Then there’s the simple fact that no single representative in representative democracy will ever get a single piece of legislation past unless they get most of the representatives to agree and at that point you’ll have a political party because most likely they’ll agree about a few other things as well.

          Capitalism is bunk because it requires poverty to work. If everyone was independently wealthy, earning as much as they could through the free-market there wouldn’t be any capitalists. Why? Because everyone would have to take a pay cut the total size of which would be equal to the amount of profit the capitalist takes (Have I mentioned that profit is a dead weight loss?). I’ll now get you to cast your mind back to the period preceding the 1990 election and the 1991 MOAB. One of the rallying cries of the time from the business community/National was about career beneficiaries. Why would the benefit be an issue then? Because it allowed people independence from the capitalists and forced wages up.

          • Rex Widerstrom 8.1.1.1.1

            Heh, no I’m not proposing making membership of the Socialst Workers Party a capital offence. Yet 😉

            I was a little indistinct in my phraseology there Draco, sorry. Dilution might have been a better word.

            I’d see that coming about under STV by voters electing people who said “Here’s what I think on the issues… that puts me in broad agreement with the people who say they’re members of the X Party, but I won’t be voting with them on every issue. And as much as possible, I’ll be in touch with the people who I represent (and not just those who voted for me) and I’ll try and reflect your views, too”.

            If enough people find they quite like the ability of these “aligned (and thus reasonably predictable) independents” we’d see the influence of, and perhaps even the need for, parties start to reduce.

            Parties would devolve into loosely formed coalitions of individuals with broadly similar beliefs but the freedom to always vote their conscience and to try to reflect their electorate. Or as you put it:

            no single representative in representative democracy will ever get a single piece of legislation past unless they get most of the representatives to agree and at that point you’ll have a political party because most likely they’ll agree about a few other things as well

            I agree about quite a few “other things” with Labour, but also some with National, many with the Greens and one or two with Act. I agree because I believe (rightly or wrongly – it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this debate) that those particular policies offer the best solutions for NZ. So why shouldn’t I, if I’m an MP, have complete freedom to pick and choose which ideas I support?

            [I’ll leave the debate about capitalism for another time… let’s change NZ politics to the extent we can first].

            • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1.1.1

              So why shouldn’t I, if I’m an MP, have complete freedom to pick and choose which ideas I support?

              What we have today is what’s evolved from that position. What you’re effectively asking here is: Can we turn the clock back 200 years?

              Political parties weren’t a mandated part of representative democracy – they evolved because of it. MMP, is, IMO, an acceptance of the political party as it’s a central part of the process. FPP, and even STV, is a denial of them as they’re based on the assumption that each representative will be an individual making their own choices with regards to their constituents. History shows us which of the two positions is more accurate.

              With MMP you’re voting for a party political platform and not the people themselves. This gives the illusion that the people elected from the party lists are unaccountable. This may even be true to some degree but I’ve seen list MPs replaced faster than can be done with an MP that won their electorate. If a list MP is doing a bad job which reflects badly on the party then the party will either get rid of them or lose votes at the next election. An electorate MP gets kicked out of the party but they get to stay in parliament. I’m all for dropping the mixed part and just keeping the proportional.

            • Rex Widerstrom 8.1.1.1.1.2

              Turn the clock back 200 years? Now you mention it, that’s not a bad summation of what I’d like to see, representation-wise (aside from the fact that, back then, an MP wasn’t salaried and politics was a part time hobby of the landed gentry).

              Yes political parties evolved but, like a cancer, they’ve mutated. I’m just reading Michael Bassett’s fascinating account of being part of the Lange government. He tells of how a minority of the caucus, Helen Clark amongst them, found Rogernomics intolerable.

              But the Party’s rules meant she couldn’t simply come out and say so, and vote against it. So her and then President Margaret Wilson — amongst others — went about trying to have the grassroots party wrest control of policy from the Cabinet.

              Now I’m not criticising her… she was in a cleft stick between being honour-bound to the “solidarity” rule to which she signed up and her own deep beliefs that Douglas’s policies were damaging the country.

              Parties that put people in such a position — and they all do, to a greater or lesser extent — are not, IMHO, vehicles for democracy. They’re instead primarily vehicles for projecting a Croby-Textor-approved image of “stability” and “certainty” and “good governance” in order to gain election or re-election.

              I’m not sure what instances you’re thinking of when you say STV hasn’t resulted in representatives who make their own choices. I agree FPP certainly hasn’t. But that’s more about expectations… if the electorate indicates it’s tired of the time servers and those whose principles are for sale, then STV provides the opportunity for true independents to stand. And even if a Party-aligned MP is chosen, they’re at least accountable to local people once every 3 years.

              MMP doesn’t — in fact it ensures List MPs, beholden to only the Party, make up a portion of our MPs.

              And yes, List MPs can and are removed… but that’s the decision of the Party, which just reinforces the need to put Party before people.

              Which brings me to the issue of recall… but that’s for another post 🙂

            • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1.1.3

              Parties that put people in such a position — and they all do, to a greater or lesser extent — are not, IMHO, vehicles for democracy.

              They aren’t but they’re what we have because we have a representative democracy.

              I’m not sure what instances you’re thinking of when you say STV hasn’t resulted in representatives who make their own choices.

              I’m not saying that. I’m saying that it’s useless to have them in a representative democracy as it will be a political party calling the shots and yet both FPP and STV assume that all the MPs are independent which, most likely, isn’t going to be true.

              And even if a Party-aligned MP is chosen, they’re at least accountable to local people once every 3 years.

              And that achieves what?

              MMP doesn’t — in fact it ensures List MPs, beholden to only the Party, make up a portion of our MPs.

              But the party is beholden to the people and will get rid of a list MP, and they’ll do it before the three years is up, if needed.

              And yes, List MPs can and are removed but that’s the decision of the Party, which just reinforces the need to put Party before people.

              The party are listening to the wishes of the people and getting rid of an incompetent minister ie, the minister is being held to account.

              Although, what I think you mean is that the individual is being subsumed by the party. This will happen in all social groupings. The individual matters but the group matters more. Even in participatory democracy this will apply. Once the decision has been made everyone will have to go along with it even if they disagree with it. They can work to get the decision changed of course.

              You example of Helen Clark above shows this. She went along with the groups decisions but worked to get those decisions changed.

            • Ari 8.1.1.1.1.4

              I actually think the easiest way to get what you want Rex is to abolish bloc voting- that is make every vote a conscience vote, and allow parties to cast proxy votes from their members, but require the member to register their intended vote ahead of time. This way parties would actually have to deal with their own internal dissent, and we’d quite naturally get MPs that would be “generally aligned” with a cause, but not 100% behind it on anything. For instance, under such a system, the supercity would probably have Maori representation.

            • George D 8.1.1.1.1.5

              I actually think you’re after an open-list MMP variant. Needless to say, the bastards in Labour and National would oppose that to the teeth too.

              I think the best advertisement for MMP is that both Labour and National opposed it.

            • Ari 8.1.1.1.1.6

              An open list is more for holding the party machine accountable to its supporters than for preventing an elected dictatorship. You can still easily have the whole party collude to do something unpopular, and be unable to “punish” enough of them on the list rankings to make a difference.

              That’s not to mention the effect of safe electorates on an open list MMP system.

            • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1.1.7

              That’s not to mention the effect of safe electorates on an open list MMP system.

              Another reason I’m all for getting rid of the electorate seats. They don’t, from what I can see, give any more accountability and may give less than list seats and “safe” electorate seats will always be party voted no matter who sits in them.

  9. Tom Semmens 9

    I read Fran O’Sullivan’s piece and I detected a hint of desperation – it seems to be slowly dawning on people like Fran and her buddy Roger Kerr that they are now marginalised in the debate and no one important is taking their calls. So when neo-liberal right wingers like Fran O’Sullivan criticise MMP they are really just pissed of at democracy. Like all ideologues, they consider they have an absolute right to impose their revealed truth on the unenlightened, and they don’t like the idea that they can’t.

    Big business ACToids and their media toadies crave FPP because, they argue, it provides them with “stability” and “certainty”. In reality, an examination of their policy agenda shows they want FPP for exactly the opposite reason – so they can impose their own self-serving economic and social revolution on the electorate. What they want is not stability, it is radical reform imposed by an easily manipulated elected front.

    Within the context of whether or not MMP produces good government by the criteria of big business, lets examine the policies and political processes of the last decade. First of all, in order to get elected National had to sign up to a broad range of Labour’s centrist policies – ensuring continuity of social and economic policies. In order to get an ETS National is seeking an accord with Labour – which will “lock in” the ETS forever. If MMP delivers one thing, it is “stability: and “certainty”. It seems to me Fran O’Sullivan might want “stability” and “certainty” – but only if it is a stability and certainty that suits her.

  10. Tigger:

    Its not a scare tactic, its what i believ, everybody should have there say, but a party that only gets five percent of the vote, should not be able to dictate to the other 95% and that can happen.

    Maybe move it up to 10% or have the American system, which has given the world Obama, while we have Key.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      No, it can’t but it can stop 45%+1 getting their say. If 95% of the representatives wanted it then it would go through with 95% of the vote.

      EDIT: Actually, I should say it can stop minority governments such as the National governments from 1970s and 1990s (<50% of the vote) from enforcing their will upon the 50%+ that didn't vote for them.

    • George D 10.2

      Show me how a 5% party is dictating the agenda. Give me examples.

      Under MMP, you need 50% of the vote. Not 35%, not 40%, not 45%. 50.

      And Every Vote Counts. If you lived in Mangere, Mr Dale, your vote would never count, ever. I like not having to have ever voted for Mr Field, or the nincumpoops National put up against him.

    • Ari 10.3

      Obama had rocketing support and a 70%ish approval rating under the American system yet won with under 50% of the popular vote because of the tricks the republican party uses to oppose registration of voters. Just because America got a good president this time does not by any means indicate that their electoral system is good. It’s also designed for a much larger country than ours and many parts of it would be broken here.

      If you think minor parties wield too much power, your real target needs to be the two big parties: they’re the ones who decide exactly how much the tail wags the dog. If between them they can cut minor parties out of political debates, I’m sure they can agree not to indulge in a bidding war 😛

      Finally, I should point out that minor parties only tend to redirect the priorities of the government of the day for the most part. Most additional policy that gets passed is not negotiated in coalition agreements, but rather drawn as a members’ bill. Minority interests would continue to be submitted as members’ bills under any democratic system- we just get more of them and better quality ones with parties like the Maori Party and the Greens making sure each of their MPs always has a bill in the ballot.

  11. Ag 11

    If MMP goes, and it will for stupid reasons, then I will never vote in a New Zealand election again.

    What would be the point?

    • r0b 11.1

      Noooo! Even in a bad system the Left needs every vote it can get. But stop it before to comes to that, MMP has got to stay…

      • Ag 11.1.1

        And what “left” party will there remain to vote for? FPP means two parties that are virtually indistinguishable.

        The left in NZ is on life support and a return to FPP will pretty much kill it.

        Voting would just legitimize FPP. It would be like voting in one of Saddam Hussein’s rigged elections.

  12. EbolaCola 12

    “but a party that only gets five percent of the vote, should not be able to dictate to the other 95% and that can happen.”

    Brett Dale you are a moron. To pass any bill or form a government in an MMP elected parliament requires a simple majority. If the hypothetical 5% minority demand something that the 95% do not want it will not pass.

    You might be upset that the 5% party gets to choose which of the two major parties form the government but that is not the 5% party dictating anything. If a group of parties with combined support of over 50% form a government then that is fucking democracy Brett.

    “or have the American system, which has given the world Obama, while we have Key.”

    Do you even know what the electoral system in America is Brett?

    Their electoral college elected Bush despite Gore winning more votes.

    Brett do you even understand our electoral system?

    YOU are why democracy doesn’t work.

  13. Any referendum on MMP held at the election could be a millstone around the neck of the Key government – people could be easily convinced (especially more seasoned voters in old safe seats) that the government is trying to steal their vote.

    Fran and her mates have noticed the turnout and vote in the anti-smacking referendum, approx 55% with a 86% No vote, would have been less favourable in an election-day environment, and that their best chance to get rid of proportional representation is a similar non-election day referendum. Speed is only a secondary, although important consideration on their part.

    Re: comments above about party hacks getting elected via list, voters should consider the style of their prospective party governance before casting their vote if they are concerned about domination by the parliamentary leadership. In some respect, party hacks are simply par for the course because the local organisation and party leadership will want a reliable vote for their preferred policies, over a ala John Tamihere “frontbums” vote.

  14. George D 14

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the best advertisement for MMP was that both Labour and National opposed it vigourously.

    Labour eventually, after many years, worked out that MMP wasn’t their enemy, and now support it in a very lukewarm way.

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