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Key’s MMP Switcheroo – as predicted

Written By: - Date published: 10:22 pm, November 15th, 2011 - 23 comments
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Key has now officially launched “The National Party Preservation Society.” He won’t vote for MMP, and prefers SM. I predicted this in June:

So John Key is making soothing noises about MMP at the moment, while at the same time expressing his sotto voce preference for the Supplementary Member system. I would bet a dime to ten dollars that if National is running at anything like their current poll numbers in the month before the November election, his view will harden up considerably.

I also said in the same post:

According to Stuff, David Farrar has been involved in giving Vote for Change  strategic advice. Farrar himself describes this as three or four conversations. He  opens the door to contracting Curia to poll for to Vote to change but says:

Regardless of whether Curia does any work for a group promoting a particular system, it won’t affect what I blog.

To which the only possible response is “yeah right”.

Farrar’s conversations may also have included tips from the campaign against the alternative vote in the UK run by David’s “mate” Matthew Elliott. You can read a bit about Elliott here in ConservativeHome, the UK equivalent of Kiwiblog.

Now Farrar has come out in support of Key’s tactic, attacking political scientist John Johansson who has objected to Key’s intervention.  Farrar asks “Will Key do A Cameron”.

You bet he will. National and Key’s aim is one-party government. He knows that 50%+ in the polls isn’t sufficient guarantee, so this week we have had the spectacle of him trying to exhume John Banks in Epsom. But that’s not enough. It’s the next election they are worried about. National’s policies have burnt off the Maori Party, so they need an electoral system that delivers a majority to the minority. FPP’s had it but is discredited; SM is preferred particularly when National hold all the provincial electorates.

Their strategy is to knock over MMP this time, and build support for SM over the next three years. Cameron couldn’t get a majority, had to go into coalition, so has knocked out the Liberals’ Alternative Vote attempt at proportionality and has now started on the gerrymander to help achieve a Conservative majority next time.

Political scientist John Johansson is absolutely right when he says:

John Key’s decision to speak out against MMP smells of partisan greed and hubris. It also raises questions about what his tactics have been all along.

Political journalist John Armstrong had the answer absolutely right about the tactics as well. He called the anti-MMP campaign the “The National Party Preservation Society in drag.” Key’s now made it official.

23 comments on “Key’s MMP Switcheroo – as predicted ”

  1. David Farrar support STV.

  2. mikesh 2

    As I understand things, if the electorate vote for change, the system which receives the most support in response to the second question comes up against MMP in the 2014 referendum. If that system is not SM then SM has no chance of being adopted.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      In a recent poll that was done, FFP was way out in front with about 40%, STV coming up at 17% and SM and PV back behind on 5% and 6% (not sure which is which). The remaining ~30% were undecided/don’t know.

      Keep MMP was at 52%, 37% was change and the rest don’t know.

      I’d say Key’s chances of getting SM are pretty low at present.

  3. Richard 3

    Sam Lotu-inga was asked at a candidate meeting what his voting preference would be and he said Supplementary Member system. It sounds like the Nats want fpp or something damn close to it.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Yep, it can be gerrymandered so that National become pretty much the only party in government again – as it was before the shift to MMP. They really do want us to go back to those days. MMP has taught them that the people don’t actually like them all that much and so they need an unfair system that favours them so that they can keep power.

  4. Hami Shearlie 4

    With MMP the Nats will always be shaky because they have very few parties who will coalesce with them – so naturally they want to be rid of MMP once and for all – Whaleoil has confirmed this many times on his blog, that MMP will in the end, keep National in opposition. Nats hate fairness and democracy, absolutely hate the fact that with MMP almost all votes count, the wasted vote is tiny compared with FPP and other systems!

  5. hoom 5

    The ‘problem’ of the ‘dirty deals’ is easily resolved: Change MMP threshold so that to get a list seat you need 1/120 of the Party Vote ie 0.8333%.
    I liked the idea of 1% as a nice round number but really it ought to be exactly a 120th.
    With a 1% threshold we could probably go back to 100 MPs while still actually making parliament more representative.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      And end up like Israel where they have 25 1-seat ‘parties’ and regularly have governments that fall apart on average after 25 months instead of serving their full terms because it’s too difficult to find compromise positions across so many small players. No thanks.

      • chris73 5.1.1

        Good point, I’d like to see the threshold dropped to 4% though because as much as I think winstonfirst is a blight on NZ politics it doesn’t seem right to get more votes then other parties but no represenation

        Mind you I’d also like to see:

        the number of MPs dropped to 99 (that’d be saving the country some money)

        the maori seats abolished

        even if you win an electorate seat you still have to reach 4% to bring in any extra MPs

        the party with the most amount of MPs should be given the chance to make a govt. first, if unable to do so then the party with the second most amount should and so on

        and if you have only one MP in your party then you don’t get a leaders budget (I just dislike Peter Dunne and Jumbo et al claiming to be the leaders of a political party when they’re basically independents)

      • mikesh 5.1.2

        We may find that we get one or two 1 seat parties (we have these now), but stray seats are just as likely to be picked up by the larger parties as by 1 seaters, so we would not expect a proliferation of the latter.

        • Lanthanide

          If the threshold were 1% or 0.083% then we’re talking about the party vote, not electorates, so there’s no “stray seats” involved. It does mean we’d get a plethora of single-seat parties – the Bill & Ben party got something like 0.05% of the vote at the last election, and that’s not far off a seat under those thresholds.

          We’d certainly see a christian party of some flavour (more christian than the conservatives) back, for example. Alliance, Libertarianz, RAM and probably communists could get in.

          • leftyliberal

            0.05% of the vote is only an order of magnitude different than the 0.83% required. It’s likely that we’ll have more small parties (eg the conservatives as you point out), but not a whole heap – certainly most of the parties that would have gotten in under a reduced threshold in the past elections have been large enough to get more than 1 seat.

            • Lanthanide

              Actually Bill & Ben got 0.56% of the party vote, only 0.27% away from the 0.83%. This was pretty much a typo on my part for both figures, but still maintains the relative difference between them.

          • felix

            “If the threshold were 1% or 0.083% then we’re talking about the party vote, not electorates, so there’s no “stray seats” involved. “

            Eh? Seats in the house are allocated according to how many party votes you win. That’s precisely what we’re talking about.

            “the Bill & Ben party got something like 0.05% of the vote at the last election, and that’s not far off a seat under those thresholds. “

            Correct. And?

            “We’d certainly see a christian party of some flavour (more christian than the conservatives) back, for example. Alliance, Libertarianz, RAM and probably communists could get in.”

            Yes. And?

            It seems to me you’re more concerned with who in particular might be in parliament than in designing a system that represents people’s votes.

            We’re getting a lot of this in the discussion and it’s not helpful. People are trying to find a threshold that blocks ACT, or lets Winston in, or benefits this party or disadvantages that one.

            It’s all bullshit. The fact is that ACT does have a constituency. The Christians do have a constituency. Why are you trying to give some voters more representation than others?

            If there are 120 seats, and 1/120th of the voters want you to represent them, you should have a seat.

            Anything else is a gerrymander.

            • Lanthanide

              No, I’m not concerned with “who in particular” at all, I’m just pointing out that putting the threshold so low has worked out terribly poorly for Israel, and I don’t believe it’d work any better here. I gave examples of those parties just to show the wide range of views that would suddenly be represented in parliament, then those views will never have sufficient weight to actually further their own cause, but easily have enough weight to de-rail everyone elses and make sure nothing can be done.

              The electoral system is a balancing act between representation and power of the government. In FPP we had an unrepresentative government that was all-powerful. Under MMP the representation has been greatly broadened and the power moderately weakened. MMP with the current threshold is about right. Moving to a 0.83% threshold would greatly increase representation, but weaken the power of government too much for my liking.

              It’s a personal preference thing: you can have yours, and I’ll have mine. No matter what you say about mine being wrong, it won’t change it.

            • Draco T Bastard

              It seems to me you’re more concerned with who in particular might be in parliament than in designing a system that represents people’s votes.

              That’s the impression I get from all of the people who say we need a threshold. None of their other arguments stack up as they can be worked around.

              • Lanthanide

                I don’t know how you “work around” a parliament that has so many disparate voices that disagree on so many different things that it makes it difficult to form a government that can actually get things done.

  6. hoom 6

    We’d certainly see a christian party of some flavour (more christian than the conservatives) back, for example. Alliance, Libertarianz, RAM and probably communists could get in.

    And that would be fine. ACT would rightfully be there too.
    The point is that the diverse views of the citizens of NZ should be being represented in parliament proportional to their actual presence in the population.
    0.83% not 0.083.

    And end up like Israel where they have 25 1-seat ‘parties’

    Is there any large clamour for change from the citizens of Israel?
    I imagine if they didn’t like it they’d be having a referendum for increasing the threshold and/or switching vote from small parties to the bigger ones.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      They’ve gone from a 1% threshold to a 1.5% and now a 2% threshold. So I’d say yes, Israel has performed the experiment and realised that actually it doesn’t work too well and they’re revising it.

      Much the same as I see a lot of people saying the MMP threshold needs to go from 5% to 4% and remove the special coat-tales electorate exception.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        They’ve gone from a 1% threshold to a 1.5% and now a 2% threshold. So I’d say yes, Israel has performed the experiment and realised that actually it doesn’t work too well and they’re revising it.

        Wrong interpretation

        With hundreds of thousands marching on the Knesset earlier this year, nothing is working well is Israeli politics at the moment.

        The conservative more orthodox Rightwing holds all the cards at the moment.

        And I don’t imagine that making their parliament even less representative is going to be helpful.

  7. insider 7

    Big surprise – a leading politician has a view on the electoral system that might be self serving. An opposing politician has an opposing view that is similarly self serving. And later this hour, yes the moon is made of green cheese.

    We’re having a referendum. Isn’t the real surprise that so little has been said about it by politicians up till now?

    And without being too critical of your political foresight skills, Key said in 2008 he’d support SM


  8. In Vino Veritas 8

    I’m sorry, is Key not allowed to have an opinion on MMP? Best I go and dig out Goff’s opinion (and Clark’s and Cullens and Norman’s) since I’m sure they’ll have had a say at some point. Then you’ll be able to write a post about them, and pile into them boots and all as well.

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