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MMP strengthening our democracy

Written By: - Date published: 2:39 pm, October 27th, 2009 - 25 comments
Categories: MMP - Tags: , ,

mmpethnic

As the assorted rich, white old men behind Peter Shirtcliffe start their campaign to dump MMP, it’s worth remembering that the diversity we see in Parliament today hasn’t always been the case.

The graph above, which comes via No Right Turn, was released today in the Social Report 2009. It shows a major increase in representation of ethnic minorities, and when you take into account the huge improvements in women’s representation (rising from 21% to 41% under MMP) the picture becomes clear.

While there’s still progress to be made, under MMP our democracy is being strengthened by the fact we have a Parliament that increasingly looks like New Zealand. The engine of that change is the party list.

Any move back to FPP or to its bastard half-brother SM can only mean a reversion to the old boys’ club run by the likes of Peter Shitcliffe. Remember that when he spends all that money trying to convince you to dump MMP.

25 comments on “MMP strengthening our democracy ”

  1. And the rise of the gay MP numbers? (Carmen’s quip notwithstanding)

  2. gitmo 2

    “While there’s still progress to be made, under MMP our democracy is being strengthened by the fact we have a Parliament that increasingly looks like New Zealand. The engine of that change is the party list.”

    I don’t think the quality or intelligence of MPs has improved one jot since the introduction of MMP, it’d be nice if party lists and electorates were populated more on intellectual merit and experience than being populated with party hacks and friends of those in the party hierarchy……not that I’m saying MMP’s necessarily a bad thing just that our politicians tend to be a pack of buffoons irrespective of the voting system.

    • Herodotus 2.1

      “fact we have a Parliament that increasingly looks like New Zealand”. Really how many lawyers are there is parliament?
      Many do not relate what are the day to day issues that affect most people. Ask a MP how much $ does a family need to exist on and why they thing of a specfic value. That will in my mind dispaly how out of touch they are.

  3. Jared 3

    my gripe isn’t with an increased spread in representation through the demographics, but the fact that parties like united future, act, progressives circumvent the 5% threshold with an electorate seat to get into parliament.

    • snoozer 3.1

      yeah, get rid of the threshold altogether, what greater right does a party with 6% of votes have to 6% for seats in Parliament than a party with 3% of votes have to 3% of seats?

  4. Tanya 4

    My problem is with the list MPs, who can be rejected by the voters but if chosen by the party bosses, get into Parliament anyway. How is this improving our democracy? Other than that MMP is working Ok, but the country still should have the chance to vote on it, this is only fair.

    • snoozer 4.1

      List MPs are elected by people voting for the party whose list they stand on. If you don’t like the people on a list, don’t vote for the party.

      • Herodotus 4.1.1

        Don’t want to be picking on Labour, yet they display the greatest manipulation of the list. How many of the successful list MP’s in the 2005 election were given mid term retirements?
        The Greens was Ross Norman the next on the list after the sad death of Rod Donald?

        • Herodotus 4.1.1.1

          Sorry mistake Russel did not replace Rob Donald but N Tanczos. Just to keep things as correct as I can

    • Duncan 4.2

      I really like Sue Bradford and wanted to vote her into Parliament, but I can’t vote for her in my electorate, nor can I vote for any electable Green candidate.

      What I can do is vote Labour for my electorate MP and give my list vote to the Greens in the knowledge that if they get enough votes they’ll bring Sue Bradford into Parliament.

      Don’t tell me she’s not elected or that it’s not democratic. I voted for her through my party vote for the Greens. Should she be excluded from Parliament and my preferences ignored just because she didn’t win the National stronghold of East Coast Bays?

  5. Diversity? Hardly.

    Sure the ethnic make up has changed. We’ve got Gay, Maori, and Asian representation but so what? They’re still peddling the same failed free-market garbage.

    Where is the ideological diversity in parliament? Green, Red, Blue, Brown, or Canary Yellow, they’re all committed to preserving the status quo in favor of business.

    If anything the Minor Parties will be the death of MMP for their failure to offer any point of ideological difference.

  6. Noko 6

    That’s bullshit. I have a party that I fully agree with ideologically, but some fool is put high up the party list and gets given a portfolio that I have a special interest in. It’s pretty undemocratic from a public point of view. Of course, you don’t really want to have what they get in the states where everyone votes who the President will be. That’s ridiculous.

    • snoozer 6.1

      Noko. Just because you disagree with something doesn’t make it undemocratic. That’s the thing about democracy, it doesn’t always go your way.

      FPP gives worse situations. You don’t get to choose the candidate for your favourite party that stands in your electorate but you have no choice other than to vote for that person – no matter how much you may dislike them, – if you want to support your favourite party.

      In fact, in FPP the vast bulk of people’s votes are simply irrelevant because they live in safe seats for one party or the other.

      I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want the President to be elected by the people, it’s a pretty powerful office.

      In fact, you might not release this but the President isn’t elected by popular vote. People vote by state, the most popular candiate in each state wins the right to send a set number of representatives (loosely based on the size of the states’ populations but at least three, which favours the small states) to the electoral college and it’s the electoral college that elects the president by majority.

      • Noko 6.1.1

        Just because I disagree currently with the way MMP is run now, it doesn’t mean I want to scrap it. I’d like to see reforms, and list MPs is one of them.

        I didn’t say that I didn’t want the President (indirectly) elected either, I said (or meant, anyway) that it’s a huge mess where the likeability of the Presidential candidates clouds all the other issues, with even their policies taking a back seat to the media spotlight. It would sadden me greatly if that happened in New Zealand.

        If it’s not undemocratic that someone I didn’t want to vote for got into parliament? If I ever voted National, I’d be very displeased if Anne Tolley or Crusher Collins came along with the package, as they’re both jokes of Ministers. I feel the same way if I vote Labour. I guess the answer to this is to get more involved in party politics, but that doesn’t extend it to the general public which is where it really should be.

  7. Eddie 7

    I’m well aware of the fact New Zealand’s class breakdown isn’t represented in Parliament, this was based on the ethnic and gender markers available in the Social Report.

    I think it’s worth commenting on as groups, particularly ethnic minorities, that were previously excluded from representation now have supportive MPs in Parliament.

    The class/income breakdown post is one for another day, but it’ll take some actual research on my part as that data isn’t included in the Social Report.

    • Gordon Shumway 7.1

      I’m not sure I understand your starting point and/or what the problem is.

      Is it that Parliament will only be properly working and “democratic” if the 120 MPs are a perfect (or pretty close) match to the demographic breakdown of the country as a whole?

      What makes you believe that will give any better outcomes to society? Is it based on a belief that only a poor Asian immigrant gives a sh1t about poor Asian immigrants, only Maori women give a sh1t about Maori women, “rich white men” are only in it to help out “rich white men”?

      In a democracy such as ours, the poor Asian immigrant, Maori women, rich white men etc., each get one vote and can freely choose to only cast it in favour of their demographic twin, if they choose to do so. What’s wrong with that system?

  8. dave 8

    What that graph indicates is that the only wany ethnic minorities are going to achieve proportionality in parliament is if there are dedicated seats. No Maori seats – no proportionality. Take away the Maori seats and is possible that we could have the lowest numbers in Parliament since 1996.

  9. The class/income breakdown post is one for another day, but it’ll take some actual research on my part as that data isn’t included in the Social Report.

    The UK had some stuff about the percentage of MPs who went to “public” (= private) schools. That might be a good place to start.

  10. dave 10

    …lowest numbers ” of Maori” in Parliament since 1996.

  11. burt 11

    Any move back to FPP or to its bastard half-brother SM can only mean a reversion to the old boys’ club run by the likes of Peter Shitcliffe. Remember that when he spends all that money trying to convince you to dump MMP.

    And also remember that when the two major parties spend millions (legally or illegally) encouraging you to vote “Two ticks [Labour/National]” that it is simply a desire on their part to get back to a FPP situation where they can govern alone without the pesky minorities.

  12. Shona 12

    “And also remember that when the two major parties spend millions (legally or illegally) encouraging you to vote “Two ticks [Labour/National]’ that it is simply a desire on their part to get back to a FPP situation where they can govern alone without the pesky minorities.”
    Reply:
    As is their democratic right..
    Shirtcliffe and his thieving mates have got all the ducks lined up this time , with the MSM completely up for Hooton’s machinations.
    The campaign will be well funded ,rolled out relentlessly and utilised as a smoke screen for the larceny associated with local Government “reform” and ACC.
    BUT…., it can be defeated because there is a growing realization out here in the mortgage belt that things are getting steadily worse and no amount of spin doctor dribble can change it . Its becoming blindingly clear that the only people with an IQ greater than room temperature in this current government are completely focussed on stealing the few remaining trinkets in the Country’s china cabinet.

  13. cheap plonk 13

    Great so now Maori are overrepresented in Parliament compared to their % percentage of the total population – how inequitable – bad as dem white fellas

  14. Tanya 14

    Snoozer, in reply to that, it wouldn;t be so bad if the public got to vote on the Party List members, but we do not. Why is it that the electorate MPs have to work so much harder on a grass-roots level? ‘if you don’t like a list MP don’t vote for that party’ well, that wouldn’t leave a lot of choice would it, given the amount of list MPs – list MPs who have to please no one but the party bosses. Obviously List MPs work hard too, but its not right that they are not accuontable to the voters. Watched Peter Shirtcliffe on Q&;A this Sunday, didn’t think he presented the case against MMP very well at all. Bring on the referendum, even if it is an eternity away, and even if MMP stays, at least the public has not been shut out.

    • felix 14.1

      But Tanya, a party is just that – a group of people.

      If you don’t like the group of people but you still feel like you want to vote for the “party” then perhaps you need to think about what it is you’re voting for.

      I suppose a lot of us think of a party as personified by the leader of that party – a party vote for national is really a vote for John Key as PM – but our responsibility as citizens in a democracy is surely to look beyond the facile images and careful branding and take notice of who and what we’re actually voting for, isn’t it?

      Also, this is an issue which affects FFP elections as well as MMP. Under the old system many people were in a position of having to cast votes for candidates they didn’t like, but whose party leaders they wanted to see in power. In that sense, for a lot of voters under FPP the whole election was pretty much a party list vote.

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