Simon Power has done the right thing and opted for a re-run of the process that chose MMP.
First, a referendum to be held at the time of the 2011 election will ask voters if they want to keep MMP or have a different electoral system. Second, regardless of how they answered the first question, voters are invited to choose a preferred alternative to MMP from FPP, PV, SM, and STV. If a majority vote for change in the first question there will be a run-off between MMP and the most popular alternative in 2014.
The business elite wanted to rush through a shoddy process that was designed to split the pro-proportionality vote between MMP, SM, and STV with the hope that FPP would slip through the middle. It’s heartening that there remains at least one National minister with the integrity to refuse to skew the pitch like that.
It’s also heartening to see that support for MMP is very strong. In all likelihood the campaign for change will fail at the first hurdle. But don’t think that Peter Shirtcliffe and friends won’t be expending vast sums to try to get Kiwis to vote for a return to the elected dictatorship that bought us Muldoon’s Think Big and the Right’s disastrous neoliberal revolution (that made Shirtcliffe and co rich). Fortunately, the grass-roots movement that won us MMP in the first place is reassembling, with old faces and new. With your help, we’re going to beat those rich pricks again and save our democracy.
Let’s not forget why we fought for and won MMP. In 1978 and 1981, the party that won the most seats did not win the most votes, and went on to govern despite more people having supported the other major party. In 1993, the winning party won 0.5% more than the other major party and a majority of people vote against it, yet under FPP it became government. In 1993, 26% of voters supported two parties that between them won just four seats.
Before MMP it was a two-party state. The only long-running third party, Social Credit, succeeded in winning as much as 20.7% of the vote and average 10.6% for 11 elections but won a total of just six seats in that entire time.
The business elite wants to drag us back to those days of unfair elections and weak democracy, when business interests held even more sway than now. We don’t want to return to those days. We want a person’s vote to mean fair representation in Parliament. We want to keep the best electoral system in the world – MMP.