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MMP campaign heats up

Written By: - Date published: 12:39 pm, February 17th, 2010 - 30 comments
Categories: class war, electoral systems - Tags: ,

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.

30 comments on “MMP campaign heats up ”

  1. BLiP 1

    Hands up everyone who understands STV . . . okay, okay . . . hands up everyone who didn’t vote National Ltdâ„¢ a-n-d understands STV . . . good, that’s cleared up then. You know what to do.

  2. Chris Diack 2

    “Categories: class war, electoral systems”

    This speaks volumns. If you go into a debate about the electoral system with this attitude you risk loosing the support of a majority of New Zealanders for the status quo + some tinkering.

    You guys really have no idea.

    [lprent: The characteristic phrase of a Act troll arises again.
    Do they stamp all of the Act drones out with a stupid set of phrases embedded on their arse so they can stamp it across every comment they make as they arise? So what position will Act be supporting in the referendum? “you guys really have no idea”?
    BTW: It is clear that you haven’t read the about or policy on this site. I’d suggest you do before my moderation hackles rise further. ]

    • Marty G 2.1

      You’re the one who doesn’t see the class issue at the heart of the electoral systems debate.

  3. Chris Diack 3

    Analysis of the electoral system on the basic of class is an echo chamber. I think if the campaign for retaining MMP uses the language of class warfare it will loose.

    I hate to give you a campaigning 101 but surely the message should be tailored to win those who would swing either way: it’s just like FPTP really in that regard.

    Are the class warriors the swing voters? Will the swinging voters be influenced by the language of class warfare?

    As I said you guys seem to have no idea.

    IrishBill: you mean “lose” not “loose”. You Act losers (note the spelling) are just about as thick as you are arrogant and wrong.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1


      you don’t seem to get that The Standard isn’t “the left”. It isn’t “the campaign for retaining MMP” or anything else. And category tags for a blog post don’t mean what you seem to think they mean either.

      As for having ideas and understandings, swing voters, electability and echo chambers and so on. You still involved with ACT?

    • Hey Chris

      How is the Hugh Watt Society? Been in breach of any trusts lately?

  4. Chris Diack 4

    Just look at the poster.

    Most New Zealanders will read the 99 MPs down from 120 and vote for the lesser.

    None of the other electoral systems necessarily involves less MP’s than we have now.

    Why would those supporting MMP even raise that.


  5. Chris Diack 5


    Look at the poster. The claim that 99 MPs is a dictatorship but 120 is not credible. And actually none of the other electoral systems necessarily means less MPs anyway.

    If most NZers get the message that MMP means more pols and every other electoral system means less they will go weak on MMP.

    But more importantly: why even raise this issue. It’s not relevent.

    I love tags they disclose truths. And this tag is mightly unwise.

    And Dude, who just won last time. This time it’s MMPs race to loose.

    Sharpen up your act.

    • Zorr 5.1

      . < — this is the point

      The idea behind the 99 FPP Dictatorship vs 120 MMP Democracy slogan is that any party that won under FPP had the ability to pass any legislation they might desire with very little in the way of checks and balances. Under MMP, every vote (essentially) gets a voice in Parliament and has a representative there able to directly question the ruling party over their policy decisions. Add in to that the fact that no party has achieved >50% of seats since MMP started and it means that concessions have neeeded to be made to coalition partners to retain working relationships.

      As much as I would love to join you in the mud, rolling around and throwing it at each other, I have better uses for my time than educating a moron who can't even engage the most basic of critical analysis skills.

      • Zorr 5.1.1

        Was meant to be


        Fail formatting on my part resulting in it disappearing as java (I think) tags.

    • You know all about democracy don’t you Chris. Been involved in any incorporated societies lately?

    • sukie Damson 5.3

      DUDE, who stole my car?
      A. Bill English.

    • Though I was at primary school at the time after a brief explanation from my (National voting) parents I could work out why MMP was so much better.

      The posters were probably written like that because for the pro-MMP side, going to 120MP’s was seen as a down side of MMP, so the real theme is democracy vs dictatorship.

  6. Chris Diack 6


    1. Not a troll.

    2. I assume all authors of the Standard and the Union movement for whom most appear to work will be supporting the retention of MMP.

    3. The graphic posted appears to suggest that.

    4. The tag on this post in my view is unwise; it suggests a mindest towards to the upcoming referendum campaign that is unlikely to be helpful. But that in the end is up to you guys.

    5. I don’t claim to represent anyone elses view except my own; just in the same way the authors of the Standard claim only to represent their own views.

    6. I support MMP – did so in both previous referendums and I am likely to support it again in the upcoming one.

    7 As for ACT’s view you will have to ask ACT. I suspect there will be a variety of views.

    • lprent 6.1
      • I’ve never even joined a union. There are about 20 authors that write here and I only know of a few who are or have been associated with unions. Your statement is like saying that all Act supporters like rorting trusts.
      • I’ve did not support MMP when it was first put in. I’ve come to enjoy it as producing relatively stable governments where the extremes don’t rule. There will probably be a variety of opinions amongst authors. But I’d guess most would write in support of MMP – I would.
      • Tags and categories are set by the author – it is how they feel it should be categorized. The only thing that moderators would do is to make sure that they don’t get too large and to ensure that posts have some categories and tags. Read the about for how this site operates.
      • Oh you have read the about – so why are you making stupid statements about the operation of this site. Carping on about conspiracy theories about this site on this site is a fast way to annoy moderators – because what we’ve said about this site hasn’t even had a taint or blemish despite all of the dickhead wingnuts jerking themselves off on conspiracy theories. We’ve seen it all before – so we tend to abbreviate their pleasures rapidly.
      • In case you haven’t realised it yet, we’re protective of our authors and don’t like sidetracking off the posts points too far. You need to learn to frame criticisms of posts without triggering moderating reactions.

      Above all, don’t be a pious dork relying on outdated stereotypes – they make you look like something out of the 80’s. The image was from the 80’s as well I seem to remember.

  7. Chris Diack 7


    The fact that you take 100 words and 6 lines to describe the graphic image presented which is supposed to persuade the causal viewer of the image to support of MMP should tell you it’s a dud.

    Actually there is little you need to tell me about electoral systems

  8. Daveo 8

    Chris, like PB said, what you fail to understand is that The Standard isn’t the Campaign for MMP. It’s not “the left”. It’s a bunch of left-wing people sharing their views on issues. If you don’t like the fact one of these authors, Marty, thinks there is a class element to the debate that’s your choice, but don’t think for a second he owes you anything or that he should bother listening to some ACT Party crony whose one claim to fame is trying to steal the Labour Party’s house.

    As for this poster you’re obsessed with? The post here references the fight for MMP, the poster references that campaign. What’s your problem? That you think this post should be written by the Campaign for MMP? That you mistakenly thought it was? That posts referencing previous campaigns shouldn’t use the imagery? Baffling.

    Oh, and I actually know a few of the people who write for The Standard. I think you’ll find you’re wrong about point 1. Careful comrade, don’t want to get yourself banned.

  9. if its broken - fix it 9

    Let’s remove personality driven Electorate seats but not the Electorate as a defined area.

    The voter still has an Electoral vote and a Party vote. Effectively two Party votes, so no changes there. The Electorates and the ‘Buffer List’ totalling 120 MP’s as now

    All Electorate positions are assigned through a Parliamentary ballot.
    simply put; The majority vote of each Electorate selects the total number of seats for that Party. The Party selects and presents their list. The Ballot is formed from the completed tally of 120 majority vote selections. The Electorates are done first. then the buffer is filled out with the remaining ballots. – The ballot draw is perhaps an opportunity for the Governor General to be more involved ? i do not know the legal side to that, no.

    The Maori Electoral seats can be done exactly the same way, and as we often hear calls for, might actually offer opportunity for many more Maori to actively engage. I do realise some Iwi could face many challenges working with Representatives from other Iwi but it is a necessary process for us all in a Democracy. It is one we all should be more concerned with, not only Maori.

    The beauty here is an Electorate’s M.P. may be from a Party that the Electorate did not vote for but the Country did. The M.P. then has the choice of working with the electorate and helping the country, or decide to work for their Party and naysay the opposition. As this may be against the wishes of the Electorate they ultimately risk the party vote at the next Election.

    There is also a more realistic opportunity for communities to create national collectives to function alongside the major parties. Do not ignore the potential from the new Electoral Funding Laws. The Corporates now have many more plays than putting Blue against Red

    I would not be suprised that the minor parties and the independants might just show that more is expected from a Representative Government. The major parties would be forced to admit that most of their differences, aren’t that different.

    The voters are having to consider more than their Electorate, and the assigned MP has to consider the same, as they will generally not be representing their own neighborhood but the Country, which i always thought was an M.P’s job. As this would undoubtedly lead to more coalition governments, the true representative nature of M.M.P. can finally be allowed to function.

    I admit the actual make-up of a government will require some careful inter-party co-operation when there is not a clear majority, but this is not a reason to automatically dismiss the suggested reform of electoral practice. This is what is required when forming a democratic representative government of individuals who would ultimately be responsible to a nation and not an electorate. M.M.P. was supposed to remove F.P.P not just buy it a new outfit.

  10. peteremcc 10

    What Chris said.

    There are many on the right who support MMP.

    Labour and the Greens are using Lefty language to try and keep MMP – wake up guys, the left lost in 2008 and if you try and keep MMP using the same strategy in 2011 (when National and the right will probably do even better) MMPs definitely going down.

    Wake up and start running a real centrist campaign instead of silly crap like:

    “FPP is unfair because minor parties don’t get a say.” – Err… the vast majority of NZ support major parties, so this is an argument against MMP and in Favour of FPP.

    “and save our democracy.” – Many who support MMP still think we should have a vote. Telling those people that having a vote is threatening our democracy is not going to win them to your side.

    “With your help, we’re going to beat those rich pricks again” – yeah, ditto, personal attacks don’t win votes, why would you vote the same way as someone that just called you a rich prick?


    1) This isn’t a Left/Right election, its an MMP/FPP election, so start campaigning like it.
    2) Even if it was Left/Right, the left is a mess at the moment and would lose, so you’d need a different strategy.

    [Eddie: Don’t come on here and demand people change their analysis to fit your preferred lines. This is a post by one author expressing his personal opinion. That is what The Standard is for. It is not your messaging hub. One more comment like this and you will be banned.]

  11. Chris Diack 11


    Mmmm. I wonder about the wisdom of posting an image from a previous referendum campaign (that overwhelmingly lost) in a post about an uncoming referendum. I wrongly assumed the image belonged to the current campaign.

    In the end, Standard authors can tag their posts as they will – even when that is in my view unhelpful.

    The mindset indicated suggests embattlement not expansiveness.

    • lprent 11.1

      If you’d had as many trolls as we’ve had manking on about the same old crap, you’d recognise the reaction – it is the white cell strategy for dealing with bugs.

      There are particular phrases and behaviours that we look for – which we’ve seen hundreds of times – they are the signatures. Clamp down on them HARD and early before they stop the debate by being idiots. Generally work on the assumption that if they start off by being idiots, then they will continue in the same vein.

      If people come in and express disagreement without making troll like behaviours then we leave them alone.

      You exhibited the phraseology. You found white cells.

      In your case you have a bit of a reputation as well which reduces toleration levels quite a lot.

  12. peteremcc 12

    Eddie, I don’t see how I can demand that you (the royal you – the left in general) guys do anything – I’m not the government and I can’t throw you in prison.

    What i can do is give you advice.

    Normally I wouldn’t care whether you listen, but in this case you risk screwing up my democracy too.

    If you really want to ban me for giving some advice to try and save MMP, then that’s your choice, it is your blog after all.

    Btw, I know that the moderators here like to be strict and always point people to the blog policy.

    I’ll just note that even if I was demanding you do something, that’s not actually against your policy.


    [Eddie: What you don’t understand is that there is a difference between analysis and campaigning. When you are writing analyis you give your honest and considered opinion about an issue and the forces that are at play. These aren’t always the arguments you would use when trying to win someone from the other side over to your thinking. To do that, you campaign. You find messages that resonate with the public and you stick to them relentlessly.

    Marty’s post was analysis, it was not campaigning. You were telling him to stop giving his honest opinions and instead write some line in keeping with someone else’s campaign messaging. That’s not what this site is about, and we resent being lectured at by people who can’t tell the difference.

  13. Chris Diack 13


    I am not responsible for your behaviour am I or the behaviour of other Standard authors or those who post comments? Each of us chooses how we treat others.


    You being unfair to peteremcc.

    Analysis or campaigning or perhaps campaigning dressed up as analysis:

    “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.”

    Looks like campaigning to me. The author self declares that he is part of the grass-roots movement for retaining MMP – a movement that excludes rich pricks apparently.

  14. Rex Widerstrom 14

    We want to keep the best electoral system in the world MMP.

    Oh Christ… where do I begin?

    Winston Peters
    Alamein Kopu
    Ron Mark
    Donna Awatere
    Kanwaljit Bakshi
    Peter Brown
    Roger Douglas (Mk II)
    Melissa Lee…

    And that’s just the first few that spring immediately to mind… and I could have thrown in a few dropkicks and ideological loons from the other side of the House but I don’t want to derail the debate.

    The List MP system (because that’s the outcome of MMP, even if it’s laudable aim is proportionality) is a disaster that’s seen the standard of people making decisions that affect the rest of us sink to appalling new lows.

    Yes, the odd mental vacuum or raving looney used to get elected to a safe seat here and there. But the advent of MMP shifted the proportion. It’s also allowed Party leaders and powerbrokers to demand a level of unthinking obedience they could never do if the MP was, first and foremost, accountable to an electorate.

    Sure the alternatives – like STV – are “hard”. But take a look at Electoral Commission surveys on how many people understand whether their party vote or their electorate vote is the more important, for instance. Ask at the pub how many people know what the Sainte-Laguë method is… you’ll probably be asked if you’re a Catholic trying to deter them from using condoms.

    I could go on, but with an assertion like “best system in the world” to argue against, I suspect I’d be wasting my time.

  15. Jenny 15

    The desire for MMP grew from an electorate heartsick at the fact, That at the time, we were getting the same right wing neo-liberal policies foisted on us no matter who we voted for, or what they promised.

    In 1984 Labour came to power with out a whisper that they were planning massive privatisations and job losses for the public sector, and deregulation of the private sector. Roger Douglas convinced working class voters and loyal labour voters that his famous trickle down would eventually benefit them, as well as the immediate beneficiaries, the powerful and the well off.

    Taking Labour on trust, working class voters again voted for a Labour Government in 1987. Workers loyal support for Labour was joined by a massive swing in support for Labour from big business and the rich.

    This support right across the political spectrum delivered Labour a huge majority and a landslide victory, in 1987.

    The support from the wealthy and the privileged for the Labour Government’s neo-liberal monetarist policies, was revealed when the most conservative seat in the country, Epsom (currently held by Rodney Hide), almost went to labour. (The winning margin was reputed to be as small as 6 votes)

    By the 1990 election, working people were heartily sick of the neo-liberal market driven policies, emanating from the Labour controlled beehive, that just seemed to be creating greater hardship and inequality.

    This mood of disillusionment and cynicism of the time was captured by the documentary “Someone else’s country”

    To take advantage of this disillusion the National party opportunistically ran a political campaign to the left of Labour, headlining promises to halt privatisations, reverse the Super Surcharge and reverse moves to user pays in Tertiary education.

    The result was one of the biggest electoral Landslides for any party ever in New Zealand.

    Of course the rest is history, The National Government despite their electoral promises, continued and extended “Rogernomics”, repackaging it as “Ruthanomics”.

    The result on the electorate was marked. Before MMP was introduced, the electorate instead of delivering huge landslides for one or the other of the main parties, quivered in the middle like some great wounded beast, eventually delivering a hung parliament. (a phenomonen witnessed in other western countries where the two main parties were perceived to be following identical conservative policies.)

    From then on the move to MMP was unstoppable, so much so, that against their natural instincts, it was finally introduced under Jim Bolger’s National Government.

    The benefits of MMP have been obvious, no longer are voters having to choose between only two major parties who they feel mightn’t truly represent their interests.

    The effect of these smaller parties on legislation has been obvious.

  16. prism 16

    Changing the voting system, even seriously canvassing the idea. It is a big thing and takes a lot of education, explanation, consideration – all the ations across the nation, then we have a bunch of good old boys who can simply say ‘Oh that was a blip (pardon Blip) and we will have another campaign and ask the country again and maybe we can get to the neat and tidy system we had before that has served us (the smug and comfortable) so well.’ I always wished that I had a copy of their infamous poster which had people with brown paper bags blocking their vision on an orange background, its an historical artifact now.

    MMP isn’t perfect of course, but those that like to find fault with politics will criticise it all the way, and if FPP comes back in they will criticise that. I think they call them the uncommitted, that is they haven’t committed their minds to serious thought across the possibilities available, for decades.

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