You may have noticed the ads about The Standard for the MMP Review that the Electoral Commission announced yesterday.
MMP won last year’s referendum with 57% of the vote, so now’s your chance to have your say on what MMP will look like in the future.
The Electoral Commission have set up a great website to make it as easy to put your input in as possible. You can do a 5 minute submission, that covers all the main areas:
- the thresholds for the allocation of list seats,
- list members contesting by-elections,
- the rules allowing candidates to both contest an electorate and be on a party list,
- the rules for ordering candidates on party lists,
- the effect of a party winning more electorate seats than its party vote share entitles it to,
- the effects of the ratio of electorate seats to list seats on proportionality in certain circumstances, and
- other matters referred to the Commission by the Minister of Justice or Parliament.
“Other Matters” specifically do not include the number of MPs or Maori seats. Fuller submissions are easy too.
To give my quick take to get you something to disagree with / agree with in your submission:
- I’d have the threshold being 2-2.5%: enough for 3 MPs to get any. It cuts out one person parties who would be a law unto themselves (herding cats springs to mind), while maximising democracy otherwise. I’d certainly ditch the Epsom threshold that allows you list MPs if you get an electorate seat, but with a 2-2.5% threshold it wouldn’t gain you much anyway.
- I have no problem with list members contesting by-elections – I’m not looking for any further restrictions on who can stand in general.
- I think it’s best we don’t restrict people from being both electorate and party list candidates. New Zealand has a struggle getting enough high quality candidates standing as it is, placing further restrictions won’t help! Also it will specifically lower the quality of candidates in marginal seats – who wants to take a punt there if you have certainty on the list?
We probably need a *culture* change with respect to the list – where the top candidates aren’t standing in electorates, just the list. Helensville and Clutha-Southland could have MPs who actually have some concern in their constituency, there’d be no local-national conflict of interest for senior ministers and we’d have the top of the executive always focussed on national interests. There’s probably no specific law change that would be useful around that though.
- I like the theory of open-lists, and generally making democracy as inclusive as possible, but their practice in the likes of Sweden shows few take up the opportunity. And most people aren’t well enough informed about everybody on the list to make a good decision anyway. As a party member I certainly didn’t feel well enough informed about people outside my region to really get a feel for what were correct list placings, and a CV only goes so far. I haven’t worked out my best list-compiling technique yet, so I wouldn’t mind others’ thoughts on what could work practically…
- We’ve not had a real problem with the overhang – the Maori Party have caused a small one throughout their existence but nobody seems concerned that we have 1 or 2 extra MPs. On the other hand we’re almost unique in allowing an overhang, and the loss of proportionality from not allowing it would be minor. We might as well keep the overhang I think (proportionality is good, and it stops other parties being penalised), but my opinion is not strong on this one.
- I’d be happy with more electorate seats than we currently have, to have smaller constituencies and more local in our democracy. We could easily have 80 constituency seats, with no great overhang. I don’t see the need to keep the number of South Island seats constant (currently 16), so I’d scrap that requirement, and just permanently have 80 seats.
- In the other basket – in an ideal world I’d like Preferential Voting for the Electorate Vote. And I’m sure there might be other issues that could be improved… Any ideas?
Submissions need to be in by April 5 if you wish to speak in person, and presumably shortly after that otherwise. In August they’ll release their proposals for another short round of submissions. Get yours in to Have Your Say!
On a personal note my brother makes his Maiden Speech at 5pm today (live here). Good luck bro!