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Participate: MMP Review

Written By: - Date published: 1:40 pm, February 14th, 2012 - 18 comments
Categories: MMP - Tags: ,

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!

18 comments on “Participate: MMP Review”

  1. Kotahi Tane Huna 1

    One thing I know for sure: equal speaking rights for all. Including the deaf.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    and a CV only goes so far.

    Well if you fire up the afterburners a CV goes very far very fast 😀

  3. Tanz 3

    No more of MPs having a double shot at parliament via both a high list ranking and an electorate seat, this is the most undemocratic aspect of our MMP system.

    • Ben Clark 3.1

      How is that undemocratic? If people vote for the party and they’re high on the list, they deserve to be in to represent that party, whether they win an electorate seat or not.

      They are 2 separate elections, and if they lose one it doesn’t invalidate the other.

  4. Tanz 4

    It is not democratic when the voters vote out an MP, only to find that that MP gets back into Parliament anyway, via the party list. There is no democracy in this, it is a slap in the face to the majority vote. Dual candidacy needs to go. People vote for not just the party, but the person they most want to represent them in Parliament. Party lists are not democratic as the voters have not chosen them, the party machines do that.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 4.1

      Yes, it is, yes, there is. No, there isn’t, no it doesn’t, no they don’t. Yes they are.

    • Anne 4.2

      All you have done is show your ignorance and complete lack of understanding of MMP and how it worksTanz. Are you a RWNJ? Because if you are that explains it. There’s lots of reasons why an electorate MP may lose their seat and it frequently has nothing to do with whether they were good MPs or not. Take Brendon Burns, former electorate MP for ChCh East as a recent example:

      As one of the electorate areas worst hit by the earthquakes, it was not surprising that thousands of it’s residents left ChCh permanently. Most came from the poorer parts of the electorate and it had a direct bearing on Brendon losing the seat. He was recognised as one of the hardest working of the ChCh MPs following the earthquakes too, but I guess them’s the breaks- or lack of them in his case.

    • QoT 4.3

      You do know we vote for people rather than against people, right, Tanz?

      • Tanz 4.3.1

        Bunch of lefters, ganging up. So, you didn’t vote against Key last election? Really?

        • QoT 4.3.1.1

          There was an “Against John Key” box on the ballot paper? Hey, fellow “lefters”, Tanz just helped me figure out what went wrong last election!

    • Bunnykinz 4.4

      I agree with Tanz, the current situation is “undemocratic”, that is why I am going to suggest that every NZer gets to vote in every single electorate.

      Epsom, kiss my vote!

  5. Arandar 5

    How would you get anyone to stand for another Party in any of the so-called Safe Seats if they were not allowed to stand as a List Candidate also? Denying them this opportunity to benefit from doing a good job encouraging Party Votes for their Party in that Safe Seat seems very unfair. Such candidates, with almost no chance of being elected would incur considerable expense without return, weeks of hard work and, given most candidates give up their day jobs to campaign, a loss of income for the period of the election campaign.

    None of that is Democratic in the least.

    • Uturn 5.1

      It would depend on your world view and the values of your party. If the candidate was of the type of Collective minded party where the individual wasn’t so much as important as getting Party power, it would be both democratic and “fair” – or at least, understood from the start.

      If the candidate were of a Conservative/Traditional minded Party (e.g. working hard equals a gauranteed payoff) it would seem “unfair”. Such a person would want to be awarded “the accolades they deserve” and not in it for just forwarding the good of the people. They’d be a career politician, if you like.

      Democracy can support “fairness”, though that fairness needs first to be defined. It is not inherently Fair.

  6. Tanz 6

    Safe seats have proven to be unsafe, especially in the last election, and in the Canterbury region.
    Paula Bennett almost became unseated in Waitakere, and a whole host of Labour MPs lost their supposedly safe seats in Christchurch, so the idea of a safe seat is a fallacy. The electorate system is very democratic; candidates have to go and prove themselves to the electorate, whereas list candidates do not. What can be fairer than that?

    • PJ 6.1

      Using Paula Bennett’s Waitakere seat as an example of a safe seat in the last election significantly undermines your argument

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      List candidates still have to prove themselves to the electorate else the voters won’t vote for the party. Also, list seats are more democratic than electorate seats in that the electorate can get rid of them mid-term by putting pressure on the party (I’d like to see this more formalised so that it’s not abused). Electorate seats are there until the next election due to the lack of recall.

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