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The coat-tail rule and democracy

Written By: - Date published: 5:00 pm, May 30th, 2014 - 136 comments
Categories: democratic participation, mana, Media, MMP, nz first - Tags:

Allow me to fly in the face of an accepted truth in NZ politics by saying this: there is absolutely nothing undemocratic about the MMP “coat-tail” rules.

This has quickly become the meme du jour around the Internet/Mana alliance (and I keep using the A-word very deliberately, because there’s an important precedent which people keep ignoring!) as propounded by Patrick Gower:

… Laila Harré is wrecking MMP.

Hone Harawira is wrecking MMP.

And Kim Dotcom is wrecking MMP.

They are using Harawira’s seat and MMP’s “coat-tail” rule to get a back-door entry into Parliament.

It is a rort.

It is a grubby deal, made all the worse by the fact Harawira holds the Te Tai Tokerau seat – a Maori seat.

As both mickysavage at The Standard and Danyl at Dim-Post have noted, there’s a funny little irony here: National had the opportunity to reform MMP, but they didn’t – because, we can probably assume, they thought they’d be hurting their own chances by doing so. (And they thought ACT would be able to lift its polling numbers.) Now, their failure to act is biting them on the arse.

But there’s another point – a point I can make by strategically editing an anonymous Stuff editorialist writing on the coat-tail rule:

A weakness of the mixed-member proportional system [is that it] … allows a party … to gain seats according to the proportion of the party vote.

Hang on a tick. It’s a weakness of MMP that parties gain seats proportional to their share of the party vote? Isn’t that how MMP is meant to work?

I agree, there is unfairness in MMP, but it’s not the “coat-tailing” – it’s the plight of parties which don’t win electorate seats.

Take New Zealand First. In 1999, they received 4.26% of the vote – not enough to cross the threshold, but because Winston held Tauranga, they gained 5 seats. But in 2008, they received 4.07% of the vote and didn’t hold Tauranga – so they were out.

The real irony? Due to the increase in overall voters, New Zealand First actually received nearly 7,500 more votes in 2008 than 1999. Nearly 100,000 Kiwis’ votes were rendered void in 2008, because there was no seat to coat-tail on to.

87,000 votes got you 5 seats in 1999. 95,000 votes got you no seats in 2008. Is that fair?

Say what you like about Winston Peters and New Zealand First – but I think that kind of situation “wrecks MMP” far more than a couple of parties coming to a mutual agreement about working together to ensure their constituents have the best possible chance of being represented – fairly and proportionally – in Parliament.

136 comments on “The coat-tail rule and democracy ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    I agree, there is unfairness in MMP, but it’s not the “coat-tailing” – it’s the plight of parties which don’t win electorate seats.

    Yep, it’s not the coat-tail rule per se that’s the problem but the high threshold which was put in place to keep small parties out. In other words, the whole point of the threshold was anti-democratic.

    It needs to be changed so that any party that gets enough party votes for one seat gets a seat and that’s still higher than the number of votes required to win an electorate.

    • Pasupial 1.1


      The Electoral Commission’s proposals were also to abolish overhang as well as coat-tailing. At the time I thought that it was going to recommend a 3% threshold, but they went with 4% with a proviso to review after 3 elections. It seemed that they thought this was as far as they could get parliament to go along with, but they hadn’t counted on the Minister for Injustice (sponsered by Orivida).

      I see the appeal of your no-threshold notion, but a new review is unlikely to go that far all at once (if ever) and they have to (or at least; should) pay attention to public submissions, some of which won’t agree. My personal preference would be for 1/ 60th of the party vote (approx 1.7%) getting you 2 list seats. That way independents could still conceivably get into parliament on an electorate vote without being forced into partisan politics.

      Hopefully both of us will get to make our submissions after this year’s election when a new government establishes a new EC MMP review.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        My personal preference would be for 1/ 60th of the party vote (approx 1.7%) getting you 2 list seats.

        I’d prefer 0.8%. Enough for 1 seat. 3% is still way too high but it’s probably what we’ll end up with.

        That way independents could still conceivably get into parliament on an electorate vote without being forced into partisan politics.

        That’s possible now – very unlikely, but possible. Need very deep pockets to do it as an independent. Changing the party threshold won’t change that.

        Hopefully both of us will get to make our submissions after this year’s election when a new government establishes a new EC MMP review.

        They don’t need another review, just discuss and implement the changes already suggested by the last one.

        • hoom

          1 seat threshold is the pure logical choice.
          I’d accept 1.7%.
          3% is better than 4 or 5%.

          Either way as long as the threshold isn’t 1 MP worth of Party Vote then I think Coat-tail provision should stay.

          And the simple fact is we had a review & the current Govt failed to action any of the recommendations.

          What Mana & Internet Party are doing clearly is within the rules as designed & that have been left as is by the current Govt -> I am 100% comfortable with it.

          • Colonial Viper

            1.6% would be enough to have a caucus of 2 MPs, given the wasted votes in very election.

            Personally I think a threshold move to say 2.5% and no coat tailing would be a very sensible one. A 4% threshold is still too high for removing coat tailing.

            However these moves towards increased proportionality benefit the small parties not the big parties like National or Labour – so would it ever get implemented.

            • Lanthanide

              I could possibly live with 2.5% with no coat-tailing. But that’s why I prefer my 3-3.5% with limited coat-tailing – it ensures that if a party is popular enough to win a particular electorate as well as a reasonable party vote, they can get increased representation commensurate with that. But it’s at a level that should not strongly encourage alliances like what we now see with Internet-Mana and are still seeing with Act, where they want to bring in 3-4 MPs on the back of a single electorate.

              If National knew in 2011 that the maximum the cup-of-tea could bring in was 2 MPs, would they still have done it, or gone about it in the same way? It would actually mean that party vote in excess of 1.6% and less than 5% for ACT would be ‘wasted’ vote, particularly as it would likely have been vote that would have gone to National themselves.

              Similarly would we now be seeing the Internet-Mana alliance if Hone knew that if they failed to win any additional electorates, it would be him + Laila Harre and not Annette or Minto as well?

              It seems like a good balance of fairness, proportionality, while discouraging rorts.

              • Colonial Viper

                You make some good points for your recommendations but I am still a bit reluctant to see any votes cast above a certain low threshold being wasted.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              I think the issue with a 1.6% threshold is that it’s actually a really big ask for a new party.

              The threshold should be set low enough that it allows for new entrants to parliament, but also allows for parties to fail. The issue is that electorates have sheltered the less successful micro-parties from failure.

              • Colonial Viper

                I think the issue with a 1.6% threshold is that it’s actually a really big ask for a new party.

                Yes it is.

                It means that the new party would have to consistently contest 2-3 elections before expecting to get in. Which is not a bad thing.

                Mind you, an ideological party backed by a good sum of money and some recognised public faces (former All Black captains are always good) has a good chance of crossing 1.6% very quickly.

    • Lanthanide 1.2

      My suggestion is a 3.5% or possibly 3% threshold, with coat-tailing of 1 additional list MP per electorate seat.

      So if you won 1 electorate, you would be entitled to 1 list MP if you had sufficient party vote for it, 2 electorates would entitled to 2 list MPs, if you had sufficient party vote for it, etc.

      • felix 1.2.1

        But why all that faffing about?

        How about you win enough votes to get a seat, you get a seat?

        • Lanthanide

          Because I like that the Conservatives didn’t win any seats in the last election. I think well-funded extremist, one (or few) policy parties are a problem and don’t want to encumber efficient governance with trying to herd disparate cats into some sort of functioning government.

          Ideally we would only have the party vote, but electorates obviously exist so that communities can get representation, as well as intervention for individuals when the bureaucracy gets in the way of the sensible outcomes.

          So it is only fair that if you win an electorate, you get a seat in parliament, which means we have to compromise between the two systems.

          • Stephanie Rodgers

            I don’t think “well we should set the threshold so high that parties I don’t like can’t get in” is much of an argument – especially when under our current system, extremists can already get in as long as John Key has a cup of tea with them beforehand. Not to mention the common assumption that, if necessary, National would gift Craig a seat.

            To be honest, I think if enough people are going to vote for extremist parties, those parties deserve representation. And it’s incumbent on the major parties to give them reasons not to, and to encourage high voter turnout so the extremist parties aren’t over-represented (as we’re seeing in the UK at the moment).

          • Matthew Whitehead

            The conservatives getting into parliament would probably have been a really bad thing for the government, and it would have killed off the possibility of similar parties launching.

          • felix

            Sorry Lanth but “because I don’t want (x) to win” is the worst possible criteria for designing a democratic system.

            “So it is only fair that if you win an electorate, you get a seat in parliament, which means we have to compromise between the two systems.”

            This is where you lose me. What does winning an electorate seat have to do with anything else? A seat is a seat. Win an electorate seat, you get a seat. Win enough party votes to get a seat, you get a seat.

            What possible reason could there be to complicate it further?

            • Lanthanide

              I was being facetious. Geeze, tough crowd.

              I’ll restate: ideally we’d only have party votes, and therefore a simple threshold of 3%-3.5% would be sufficient. But because we have electorate seats, we need to come up with rules as to what happens when someone wins an electorate seat. Basically it comes down to coat-tailing, and to what degree you’ll allow it. IMO the best combination is a 3 ot 3.5% party vote threshold and limited coat-tailing.

              • weka

                how do you take the regions into account with only list votes?

                • Lanthanide

                  You don’t? That’s why I’m saying we need electorates and therefore need to find a way to combine electorate and list voting into something that’s fair.

              • felix

                lol sorry Lanth.

                But I still don’t follow your reasoning.

                “ideally we’d only have party votes, and therefore a simple threshold of 3%-3.5% would be sufficient.”

                Why? Where are you getting this number from? Seems arbitrary.

                “But because we have electorate seats, we need to come up with rules as to what happens when someone wins an electorate seat. Basically it comes down to coat-tailing, and to what degree you’ll allow it.”

                How does that follow? Why is coat-tailing necessary? Why not just win an electorate seat, get a seat; win the % of party votes that actually represents a 120th of the electorate, get a seat?

                • Lanthanide

                  The 3-3.5% threshold is purely to stop well-financed extremist parties getting into parliament, for example the Conservatives. Draco and others keep saying they want a threshold that represents 1 seat – I simply think that’s a bad idea.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    5% is definitely too high. Change it to 3.5% and review it in 15 years.

                    Draco and others keep saying they want a threshold that represents 1 seat – I simply think that’s a bad idea.

                    Yes, the Ayn Rand Sociopaths Party could get 1-2 seats in Parliament every single election. And if you think the place is an unproductive circus now…

                  • felix

                    So you weren’t joking. Apology withdrawn.

                    Your system is constructed of entirely arbitrary numbers.

                    WHY do you think it’s a bad idea for 1 seat to represent 1 seat?
                    WHY shouldn’t voters be able to elect extremists if that is their democratic wish?

                    There must be a philosophical underpinning beyond “I don’t like Colin Craig”.

      • greywarbler 1.2.2

        I like that idea of coat tailing 1 extra MP for every electorate. I think on a practical level, that there would be better outcomes from having an additional MP so there was a team or partnership to do the work rather than just the single electorate winner.

        I have done a post about the latest EU vote and there was discussion on the German move to drop thresholds altogether for the Members of the European Parliament, MEP. The media gave bios giving the backgrounds of some of the obssessed or extremist elements that have found their way in mostly because of low thresholds, I think to the detriment of the very large and presumably unwieldy assembly. I’m waiting for news on the post when the weekend political reports are over and there is some time to consider it.

        • Lanthanide

          Yeah, I think disallowing coat-tailing altogether is too harsh, unless the threshold were set down at around 2% or something like that, which IMO is too low.

  2. Papa Tuanuku 2

    NEWSFLASH: Right wingers have been rorting MMP since b4 it began.

    The right wing rort and manipulation of MMP is probably THE political story of the last 25 years, if the right wing media would give the story the light of day.

    Details here (careful, the skulduggery is confusing):

    pre MMP – National and Labour MPs leave their parties before the first MMP election and form the Future NZ party, which later becomes United NZ Party and then United Future NZ party. Think Peter Dunne.
    1996 – 1st MMP election, the 5 Maori Mps (with NZ First) hold balance of power and side with National. (remember Winston was a National MP three years before this). Ex nat backs nat.
    1997 – Alamein Kōpu leaves alliance to prop up national govt.
    1998 – Winston pulls away from National. His 5 national MPs leave him and form a new party, Mauri Pacific, that props up the national govt.
    2008 – 5 Maori Party Maori seat MPs side with national govt, including ex labour MP (Turia). After a couple of years Harawira leaves this arrangement.
    2011 – (now) 3 Maori Party Maori seat MPs side with National.
    Since 1995 Peter Dunne has supported most govts, most recently supporting national to sell assets and to pass the GCSB laws.

    MMP rort themes:

    A long history of Peter Dunne manipulating the MMP system, setting up new parties to suit his political career. (starts as labour MP and ends up as United Future MP backing National govts, it makes the head spin!)

    The Maori seats being captured by parties who then back up national govts that decrease living standards for their voters. (Remember Maori seats are the poorest seats in the govt).

    Probably the biggest rort of all – the ACT party. Set up and run by ex labour MPs (Prebble and Roger Douglas) and then led by ex national MPs like Brash and Banks. These people must operate on the hope that people have no memories. They really are shameless.

    • Ron 2.1

      Dont blame the Maori parties for supporting NACT they did get some nice 4 wheel drive vehicles if I remember correctly.
      Also I don’t think that Prebble or Douglas were ever labour people. They were part of a right wing group that set about destroying Labour. I will never forget the damage that right wing cabal did in Onehunga Branch where they tried to run away with the branch assets. All of which which shows that we need to have a better control of people we allow into the party and then allow then to stand for seats. There are still too many right wing supporters some from the 1984 bunch, occupying Labour seats when they should have been turfed out years ago.

      • DS 2.1.1

        Douglas was tribal Labour (he was in the Kirk government too, don’t forget). I think he genuinely believed he was helping people. He was wrong, of course, and mad as a brush, but he wasn’t malevolent in the way that, say, Ruth Richardson was.

        • Colonial Viper

          Correct. Douglas would go into factories and personally meet with workers to convince them that the free market way was the way to go. Of course, in many instances those same factories closed down within a year leaving all the employees jobless.

          It was religious evangelising and he honestly believed in the neoliberal faith himself. I think in the end what was wrought was not what he intended but by then it was too late for him to change his course.

          • mikesh

            I’m inclined to agree. Douglas thought that he was simply following the then current economic orthodoxy. Lange thought so too, and said so in a TV documentary some years after leaving parliament. He said he became disillusioned when Roger tried to introduce a flat tax.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Gower’s wagging finger editorial was the stupidest, most two dimensional piece of political writing I’ve seen in quite some time.

  4. Tracey 4

    great post stephanie, many thanks.

  5. bad12 5

    Good Post Stephanie Rodgers, good points and i especially appreciated your analysis of the point you make about NZFirst across all the MMP elections,(i had never considered looking at the Party %’s from the point of view of a rising population befor),

    A truly ”representative” Parliament would be one where 1% of the Party Vote gained 1 seat in the Parliament,

    So, it is obvious that we are nowhere near ”representative”, and yes i have heard the argument ad nauseum about all the strange people that such a system would elect, and, how hard it would be to form a Government, god don’t we just yearn for FFP?/sarc,

    IF political groupings are prepared to say to the electorate this is the coalition we intend to Govern with and we will help our proposed partners gain seats in the Parliament to further such a coalition what could be more honest than that,

    In my opinion, openly proposing to the electors a proposed coalition befor the vote is cast and informing those electors what electorates you are likely to help the proposed coalition partners win is miles more honest than the Winston Peters and now David Cunliffe ”we will let you know after the election” line,

    To me the latter reeks of snake oil politics…

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    You make some good points Stephanie and you are correct the right have exploited MMP to the max for years. National hate it when others play them at their own game and this time another team has some moolah and oh how they know money talks.

  7. Skinny 7

    Good work Roders!
    I heard Key saying he didn’t realise the Mana Internet hook up was possible?
    If that’s true Snake Oil Joyce their campaign master stroker just got found out. Great how Karma clobbered them over the head for rejecting yet another recommendation by a credible working group.

  8. DS 8

    The threshold is one of those accidents of history: Germany has 5% to keep neo-nazis out, and as the home of MMP, incorporating the German threshold arguably made MMP an easier sell to New Zealanders (recall the pro-FPP arguments about needing strong government; in the early days one could point to Germany as an example of strong proportional government, unlike Italy).

    I think you can make a case that some form of threshold is necessary, lest everything fracture completely and you end up with elections decided by whether a random obscure party can get 2% instead of 1% (tail wagging dog and all). 5% is unfair though.

  9. tsmithfield 9

    To cynically exploit the coat-tailing rule to its max, the answer would be for a given party to arrange for fringe groups to start political parties in each of its safe electorates then instruct voters to give their electoral votes to the fringe group in each elecorate.

  10. DS 10

    Actually, you can’t really abuse the coat-tail rule once you hit 5%.

    The actual way to abuse MMP is to split your party in two, have one run only in electorates, and the other run only on the list. It is theoretically possible to have 180 MPs (120 + 60 overhang).

  11. TightyRighty 11

    This is the exclusive brethren without the secrecy, Epsom with a contract instead of a cup of tea. That the left allows out political system for as little as $3.5m when it decries larger amounts for supposedly doing the same is an indictment on The system. Fair game that national has done it, so why can’t we. But completely unethical when all the parties on the left have spent years criticising that arrangement as unfair on the voters of Epsom, and the electoral system.

    I only hope now that you win needing the help of IMP. It’ll be the end of the left for a generation as the infighting spirals out of control. It’ll probably take us back to FPP as well as the electorate concludes that the extreme tail wagging the centre dog is not a fair use of there vote.

    • BM 11.1

      Yep, you do wonder if it would be the best for NZ if this consortium of lefty ass hats actually do manage to scrap enough votes together and win.

      Let NZ really feel a bit of pain and misery for a few years, then people might finally wake up and take voting a bit more seriously.

      Yes Key will be gone but the left will be fucked for the next 2 decades and someone much harder such as Collins or Joyce will be in control and they’ll have the drive and mandate to take NZ much further right.

      • Paul 11.1.1

        Is this the new meme you guys are pushing?

        • North

          Yeah, grim faced seedy old fortune teller stuff. Risible ! Shows how they’re shitting at the prospect of NZers empowering themselves. “Fuck it’s just not right…..weep weep weep !”

        • BM

          Lets think about it for a second, NZ will be a basket case, no one will want to immigrate, no one will want to invest money here.

          Businesses will move all their money offshore and dial any investment way back, they’ll go into survival mode, no hiring and trimming staff back to the bare necessities.

          The dollar will tank, petrol and food will sky rocket.

          The sheeple will suffer and the consortium of clowns will be turfed out at the next election if they don’t dissolve first in a frenzy of infighting.

          • Paul

            So it’s a meme then.

            • felix

              Yeah of course, but BM doesn’t know that. He just unquestioningly repeats whatever Farrar and Slater say.

              btw it’s exactly the same list of horrors that the right always try to scare the people with. And of course whenever we get a marginally more left-wing govt none of that happens.

              • Paul

                It’s about the third meme they’ve tried on the Internet Party.
                Their spin is not getting traction.
                Desperate times for the neoliberals.

              • Bazar

                “He just unquestioningly repeats whatever Farrar and Slater say.”
                Honestly, i’m laughing so hard.

                If any single person on the left had any sense of self-worth and critical thinking, they’d wonder just how a site that has gone on and on about national/act/uf rorting the system, and the moment their team does it, its all for the greater good and the way things are supposed to be done. A totally acceptable way of electioneering.

                Thats not even counting the sellout.
                When act was given epson uncontested, they won it by themselves, with their own campaign.

                The Imp is beening paid out millions to contest this seat by a private backer, whose moral standing leaves much to be desired

                Well done to the left wings who can gobble this garbage. you’ve earned yourself the “Doubleplusblackwhite goodthink” award.

                • blue leopard

                  ‘When act was given epson [sic] uncontested, they won it by themselves, with their own campaign.’

                  How bizarre.

                  If they were given Epsom – how do you conclude they ‘won it by themselves’?

                • Lanthanide

                  and the moment their team does it, its all for the greater good and the way things are supposed to be done. A totally acceptable way of electioneering.

                  Because as is pretty much always the case, the situations are not the same.

                  KDC has publicly announced and made no secret of his $3M donation to the IP. We cannot say the same for National and their donors, such as the Exclusive Brethren.
                  In backing Act in Epsom, National tried to have it both ways by still running their own candidate, and refusing to come out and say to vote for Act instead of National. That is not the case with the Internet-Mana alliance, which is a formal alliance and everyone knows what is trying to be achieved.
                  It is National that refused to alter the electoral law, despite a public referendum campaign they themselves started and the report from a commission with specific recommendations. They easily had the votes in parliament but refused to make any changes – now they reap the rewards.

                • If John Key had any sense of self-worth and critical thinking, he’d wonder just how he, who has gone on and on about tactics which help National being “within the rules”, and the moment the other team does something perfectly within the rules, it’s corruption and deceit. A totally unacceptable way of electioneering.

                  That’s not even counting Oravida.

                  Fixed it for you.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  The Imp is beening paid out millions to contest this seat by a private backer, whose moral standing leaves much to be desired

                  I’d say that KDC has a hell of a lot more moral standing than the private backers of National – Oravida, all the anonymous ones through restaurants and the Cabinet Club, etc etc.

            • weka

              a meme and a massive projection.

              The difference between their projection and us is that we actually care if NZ gets trashed.

          • Pasupial


            Most commenters on this site have a longer concentration span, but; “Lets think about it for a second” seems to be about your limit.

            “Businesses will move all their money offshore and dial any investment way back, they’ll go into survival mode, no hiring and trimming staff back to the bare necessities”. Isn’t this already happening under NAct – how else does one explain the collapse of manufacturing and the high unemployment rate?

              • blue leopard

                Possibly disingenious BM,

                Try widening the rate to 1985 – 2014

                Or, to focus on the numbers of people (as opposed to the people-divorced concept of percentage of the population) being affected by the types of policies National swear to be helping New Zealanders, try this one: unemployed persons 1985-2014. National’s policies sure as hell aren’t helping these people.

                These links are not going to the widened versions – you have to use the drop-down menu under ‘2011’ and select 1985 to gain a wider perspective. Hopefully this is why BM’s graph covered such a very short range of years.

                • You_Fool

                  Interesting trend when date range widened. Under Labour govts the unemployment rate drops during their entire terms. National governments, 1st term unemployment rises to astronomical levels, 2nd term it comes back to about 2x that at the end of the labour terms. The one 3 term national government then went and put the unemployment rates up high again before labour reduced them.

                  • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

                    Good analysis

                    I noticed that about the jump in unemployment at the start of National’s terms too – I think they very much make use of that – this government certainly has – note how many times they say ‘unemployment is dropping’ the question one needs to ask is from what time are you making that comparison and from what soaring heights of unemployment are these current numbers ‘improvements’ of….

      • felix 11.1.2

        Aww you guys are so cute when you’re upset.

      • the Lone Haranguer 11.1.3

        BM, the sky is not falling.

        This just shows that the left have (after 25 years of dopeyness) finally got MMP figured. Its ironic that its taken a German thief talking with a principled Maori radical to put into place what Labours academic friends could never do.

        And from this we will get MMP resembling either Italy or Germany. Time will tell on that one.

        Or it may be that the Nats will now ring Colin Craig and do a deal mirroring the IMP one knowing that they can only be accused of not being very original.

        As the IMP deal gives Labour its best shot at forming a Government in September, they can hardly bleat if the Nats do their usual thing and copy a good idea when they see it.

    • I think the best bit about your comment is where you say “for as little as $3.5m”. Really shows what end of the socioeconomic spectrum the National Party’s fans identify with.

      • TightyRighty 11.2.1

        it shows how cheaply you are willing to sell the integrity of our political system to remove national from power. i would view the purchase of the entire political system and the ear of the potential government cheap at $3.5m. do you think that’s too much?

    • felix 11.3


      This is the exclusive brethren without the secrecy

      Would you mind telling us exactly what the problem with the Exclusive Brethren was?

      • I think the meme is that the Left hate religious people. Opiate of the masses etc.

        • Colonial Viper

          The Exclusive Brethren quip refers to the under-wraps support they gave to Don Brash, doesn’t it?

          • Stephanie Rodgers

            Yes – but I think TR is trying to equate the Brethren issue with the Internet/Mana alliance, and say the left are hypocrites for supporting one and not the other. (Not that the left/Labour are at all universally supportive.)

            • TightyRighty

              no, it’s hypocritical to say that brash was owned by the bretheren in return for their $1m donation but IMP, and the government they could potentially form if they are kingmakers, are somehow above being bought for $3m, just because it was declared. it’s nothing about support, it’s about declaring NZ citizens who wish to donate their own money to a political cause an enemy of democracy because they donate without getting involved, but taking MORE money from a non-nz citizen with a massive personal agenda but can’t get involved is somehow democratic?

              • Two problems:

                1) You have to prove anyone accused Brash of being “owned” by the Brethren (and I also understand that the EB didn’t donate to National, merely funded an anonymous hate campaign against the Greens – which is why it’s nowhere near the same thing)

                2) Plenty of people on the left ARE saying that KDC has “bought” the Internet/Mana Party, so the widespread leftwing hypocrisy you’re claiming is a fiction.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The big thing about the Exclusive Brethren and National was the secrecy that they employed to try and bypass the law around electoral spending.

            • Macro

              “trying to equate the Brethren issue with the Internet/Mana alliance”

              That is one hell of a long bow!
              I cannot for the life of me see any similarity at all.
              Exclusive Brethren = completely opposed to any involvement in politics (ahem!), then secretly funds National, and runs dirty (lies and false innuendoes) leaflet drop against opponents.
              To date Internet Mana = Openly declared policies, transparent funding (if you don’t like parties accepting money from wealthy sponsors TR then don’t vote National or ACT who do; and as we know – don’t want to declare who is backing them); and as far as I am aware there have been no anonymous leaflet drops bagging National candidates – their corruption is open for all to see.

      • TightyRighty 11.3.2

        apart from the fact they are an overtly religious organization, whom we could consider closed minded at best, inserting themselves into a secular position by using millions of dollars in a secretive fashion?

        KDC is no better because he is being upfront about his involvement. in fact given all his publicity about all his problems, this could almost make it worse. secrecy would not involve so much money.

        • If you think there’s no difference between open and secret donations to political parties, may I suggest you’ve been paying no attention to New Zealand politics for the last ten years?

        • felix

          TightyRighty, I asked what your problem with the EB was. Can you please state it clearly, without attempting to phrase it as a question.

          Then I’ll get you to state clearly your problem with the IMP, and then we can compare the two problems side by side and see if there are any similarities.

          But first your clear straightforward statements are required, free from irony and rhetoric.

        • weka

          “apart from the fact they are an overtly religious organization, whom we could consider closed minded at best, inserting themselves into a secular position by using millions of dollars in a secretive fashion?

          KDC is no better because he is being upfront about his involvement. in fact given all his publicity about all his problems, this could almost make it worse. secrecy would not involve so much money.”

          That only works if the Brethren had set up and funded a political party. But really, what is wrong with anyone setting a political party? I really don’t get this. That’s the point of MMP. Let the Exclusive Brethren set up a political party. Let Colin Craig. It’s better to have such people and their beliefs visible rather than assimilated into mainstream parties. Ditto KDC. I’d much rather see him doing what he is doing now than behind the scences where we don’t know what is going on.

      • mikesh 11.3.3

        The law sets limits to how much each party spends in an election. The problem with the Brethren was that they spent the money themselves, bypassing those limits.

        • felix

          Yes that’s my understanding also.

          I’m still in the dark as to what TightyRighty’s issue with them was though. Apparently it was in some unspecified way relevant to what IP/Mana are doing.

    • Roflcopter 11.4

      TR it’s slightly different than you make out.

      What they are doing is the next step from gifting seats etc through cups of tea, not campaigning hard for the electorate etc. What they are attempting to do is, from now until 6 weeks after the election, pool the overall % between the 2 parties to maximise the MP’s through the door then split up once they are in.

      None of the right side parties have used this approach.

      The interesting side will be IF the IMP are in a position to be king-maker, and allow the left to form a government, what happens to the coalition arrangement once the IMP relationship is formally dissolved? Does the IP then demand that they will only allow the left gov’t to remain stable if they stop him being extradited?

      • weka 11.4.1

        How exactly could the IP demand such a thing?

        “what happens to the coalition arrangement once the IMP relationship is formally dissolved?”

        Assuming you mean the IMP coalition arrangement, then once it’s dissolved it doesn’t exist. I would have thought that was self evident. The IMP have set up their MoU so that they have a choice post-election to keep the IMP running or to disband it. The time frame is to meet within 5 weeks of the election.

      • Tracey 11.4.2

        Surely it will only dissolve if neither party gets a seat or only one party gets a seat.

    • Macro 11.5

      Well your lot had the chance to do something about it – but for their own self-interest (i.e. couldn’t do another “Epsom” if they did) chose not to act (as usual from a do nothing bunch of bench warmers).

  12. North 12

    Sad, pissed off, wishful thinking, Planet Key sociopath Tighty Righty. Gardening helps baby.

    • TightyRighty 12.1

      I await your screams of resentment if the right uses this tactic and wins the election

      • Macro 12.1.1

        Which tactic, of course, they have NEVER used before, and NEVER will in the future – such a host of saintly people! Where can I vote for them.

      • Uses what tactic? A public, open merger between two parties? Please, Tighty, don’t leave me hanging, now you’ve got me longing for the announcement of the Act/Conservative alliance. It’s possibly the only thing left to make this election year more hilarious.

  13. Ad 13

    How many here complained about the deal between John Banks and John Key to stop Goldsmith and in doing so get National an MMP partner? Pretty much everyone.

    Even if you took out the whole “buy yourself a whole political party” ickiness out of it, the deal done here with the Internet Party and Mana to get into Parliament is of the same quality as the Epsom deal.

    It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.

    It’s as bad for democracy as an NZX backdoor listing is for commercial accountability.

    • karol 13.1

      Mate, the “left” is not a hive mind. I’m not a KDC fan at all. I rate Laila Harre, Harawira and Sykes. I’m not keen on KDC’s self-launch into politics. It remains to be seen how the IMP will impact on the left in the medium to long term – whether it is positive or negative.

      I’m not keen on the coat-tail effect But National refused to lower the party threshold below 5% in its own self-interest. So, they will reap what they sowed.

      I’m behind the Green Party this election. They are a party of principle, have been developing a strong raft of policies, and their communication with voters on and offline. Whatever the outcome of the elections, the left will benefit from a strong Green Party vote – a short, medium and long term benefit for the left.

      • Ad 13.1.1

        I am glad you are with the Greens – at least they are not selling out to corporate interests.
        The principle of an uncorrupted democracy is worth fighting for, worth upholding, and worth having a real election for a proper government.

    • Lanthanide 13.2

      It’s because National tried to have it both ways.

      This party is a formal alliance, there’s nothing underhanded or behind the curtains about it.

      If National hadn’t done their little pantomime, or had the guts to not stand Goldsmith in the electorate, I think people here would not have been as against it. It was made all the worse by John Banks clearing being a National MP, just with a different coat of paint on. I don’t think you can really say that Laila Harre is a Mana MP, when you put here up alongside Sue Bradford and John Minto and the types of policies they espouse.

      • Ad 13.2.1

        Replace the name Kim Dotcom with Alan Gibbs, the Congreve family, the Todds, or in fact Sony, or Rothmans or BHPBilliton. The BHP-Mana Alliance. Try That. The Sony-Mana Party.
        The Microsoft-Green Alliance Party.

        How does that sit in Parliament, trying to pass laws about companies? Is this really what our relatives fought wars to get?

        Some things are not worth selling out that big for.

        • felix

          “Replace the name Kim Dotcom with Alan Gibbs, the Congreve family, the Todds, or in fact Sony, or Rothmans or BHPBilliton.”

          Why? Say what you mean ffs.

          “How does that sit in Parliament, trying to pass laws about companies?”

          Who’s doing that? WTF are you on about?

        • Lanthanide

          Ok, if I replace the name “Kim Dotcom” with “Sony” or “BHPBilliton”, then the party in question is subsequently called “Internet-Mana”.

          I don’t really think you’ve made your point.

          So far the only policy they have that could be considered benefiting KDC is a change to the copyright laws. But that would be retroactive so won’t help him, and his current company Mega won’t be affected either because they use encryption.

        • BM

          How about

          Anadarko-Act or Monsanto-Act

      • felix 13.2.2

        Exactly Lanth. It’s like they’re disgusted by the honesty.

        Don’t the peasants know we’ve spent centuries developing covert systems and arrangements for this sort of thing what?

    • I think it’s extremely dishonest to compare the situations in the first place – because Key and Act have put a lot of effort into the pretence of Act’s independence, where Internet/Mana are being utterly upfront.

      Secondly, sure, KDC is making sizeable donations to get the campaign rolling – but openly, and publicly, unlike, say, the Exclusive Brethren.

      Thirdly, I really have to keep objecting strongly to the idea that people like Hone Harawira, Annette Sykes and Laila Harre are going to be anyone’s puppets. They’ll probably care a bit more about ideas like internet freedom than they otherwise would have, but I cannot see them just being mouthpieces for KDC (and frankly I doubt he cares that much about not-about-him politics anyway).

      And finally, the fact is people still have to get out and vote for the Internet/Mana party. We know it’s actually not easy to just “buy” votes, otherwise Colin Craig would be mayor of Auckland.

      Maybe I’m wrong, and Internet/Mana will campaign on a progressive left-wing radical grassroots platform, then show up with three votes in Parliament which only get cast if it impacts KDC’s ping. Then – just like every other party which has betrayed its stated principles – they’ll get punished in 2017.

      Meanwhile, a lot of people will have become more engaged in politics than they otherwise would have been, and we’ll have a real contest of ideas for progressive/leftwing vote, and campaigning will take a huge step forward in terms of combining grassroots tactics with social networks. I don’t see any of this as a bad thing.

      • weka 13.3.1

        That comment would make a great post Stephanie.

        I’d add to that that the IMP Agreement ends 6 weeks after the election. They may negotiate something further at that point, but there is no obligation on Mana to do so. What advantage is there to Mana at that point in being KDC’s mouthpiece? It just doesn’t make sense.

        • Colonial Viper

          I’d add to that that the IMP Agreement ends 6 weeks after the election.

          I thought it was just a review? Or is it a hard-coded close off from which something new has to be negotiated?

          • weka

            I took it as the latter, but haven’t actually looked it up…

            • weka

              you are right CV, no actual end date,

              27. Unless terminated as per section 25, this agreement will remain in force until at least six weeks after the 2014 General Election polling day. The component parties will meet together within five weeks of the 2014 General Election to review the agreement.

              The MoU is a googledoc unfortunately https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-OsCSmT5K89LUwxOExmUjJpN2c/

        • Thanks weka. I may rework it a little … and I don’t want to get a reputation as the person who only blogs about how everyone’s wrong about Internet/Mana!

          • weka

            lol, it’s ok, I think lots of people are with you on this one.

            I’ve been pleasantly cheered by the comments section on some of the MSM pieces (esp the Gower rant). It’s all a gamble but it’s exciting times too.

      • karol 13.3.2

        <i We know it’s actually not easy to just “buy” votes, otherwise Colin Craig would be mayor of Auckland.

        Actually, if the amount of money raised would result in who is elected, John Banks would be mayor of Auckland, in stead of being in the dock.

        • Colonial Viper

          Having said that, there need to be serious limits put on campaign spending for the Auckland local body elections. Needing a minimum half million dollars to contest the mayoralty guarantees that the person elected will always have to go cap in hand to big business.

        • Draco T Bastard

          More spending makes an observable difference. It’s more visible in the US where there aren’t any limitations on spending but it can be seen here as well. All you have to do is view how many votes The Conservatives got in 2011 compared to how many Mana got. More money, quite simply, means more exposure.

          And John Banks isn’t a fair comparison as most of the people in Auckland have always hated the slimy prick. It was only in the Old ACC district that that was reversed.

          • Macro

            “And John Banks isn’t a fair comparison as most of the people in Auckland have always hated the slimy prick” hehehee

    • How many here complained about the deal between John Banks and John Key to stop Goldsmith and in doing so get National an MMP partner?

      Can’t remember, but expect I did. Thing is, in one of Key’s favourite phrases, it was “within the rules.” If you have rules that allow people to play games like this, they’ll play them – what would help is making the rules more rational.

      As it happens, the current government set up a commission to do that, and many of us gave submissions pointing out that the high threshold and electorate-seat-coattail provision were encouraging rorts like this and should be done away with. The commission duly recommended lowering the threshold (although not by much) and removing the ‘coattail’ provision.

      The real test of integrity is at that point. We know that the parties in the current government have none, because they refused to implement the commission’s recommendations. Whether a left government would be equally lacking in integrity remains an open question – we’ll find out after they become the government and we see whether they implement those recommendations or not.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.5

      How many here complained about the deal between John Banks and John Key to stop Goldsmith and in doing so get National an MMP partner? Pretty much everyone.

      There was a difference that just doesn’t apply here – National were telling hinting very loudly to the National voters of Epsom how to vote. That’s what the Cuppa Tea was all about and that was what pissed me off most about it.

  14. Populuxe1 14

    Underarm bowling wasn’t against the rules in 1981 either

    • Lanthanide 14.1

      Rolling a ball across the pitch might constitute “lawn bowls”, but it doesn’t really constitute a cricket bowl.

      • Populuxe1 14.1.1

        Which doesn’t make it honourable. I’m disappointed at how many people here who throw their hands up in horror at the suggestion that Left wing parties might want to tweak their policies and presentation for more mainstream appeal, but are perfectly ok with this, which imho makes a mockery of what the Maori seats are supposed to be all about – fair representation of Maori

      • But it was within the rules at the time of the underarm bowling incident.

        • Populuxe1

          If you want to play that game, 200 years ago slavery was legal. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should not show some shame and humility if you must, especially when you bitch and moan about National doing it.

          • Tracey

            Which brings us to the principle of universalism…

            • Populuxe1

              There is nothing wrong with applying the principle of universalism to general principles, ie: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

              • Tracey

                More like sacrifice the few for the many, the short term lack of principle to get rid of the bigger threat to all principles or something like that

          • weka

            Cricket and slavery, great comparison.

  15. DS 15

    In 1983 in the UK, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party ran as part of an alliance: they campaigned together, and ran joint candidates. Was that rorting the system? No, it was just trying to make the most of a minor party’s limited capability under an FPP system (they formally merged in 1988).

    Here, the rules require either 5% or an electorate seat in order to get into Parliament. So the Mana Party and the Internet Party are running as part of a formal alliance, campaigning together and running joint candidates. Is that rorting the system. No, it’s just trying to make the most of a minor party’s limited capability under an MMP system with a high threshold (a threshold that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – if people don’t think you can get 5%, they won’t vote for you, so you don’t get 5%).

    The screaming about “integrity” coming on the Right is completely and utterly self-serving. The Right would love it if the IMP split up, so Mana gets one electorate MP and the Internet Party waste 3% of anti-National voters. Not sure how that would necessarily more be democratic though, seeing as that’d waste the votes of thousands of people (making sure people’s vote count = underarm bowling. Yeah right).

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      Not sure how that would necessarily more be democratic though, seeing as that’d waste the votes of thousands of people

      It wouldn’t but, then, National has never been about democracy and all about them getting power.

  16. Ron 16

    ISn’t it better that we dump electorate seats altogether. WE could vote for Party and then total Party votes divided by electorate sizes gives number of seats. Someone said earlier it would remove the electorate MP who can work for good of electorate, but if parties had no electorate seats they can still represent electorates look at Greens.
    A party that did not equally divy up their MP’s to represent the whole country would not survive very long.

    • DS 16.1

      I could live with that, on condition that we replace the national list system with regional lists. Otherwise you can get situations where, say, Invercargill or Greymouth really do get ignored.

    • Lanthanide 16.2

      In an ideal world we wouldn’t need electorates and electorate MPs. This isn’t an ideal world, though.

  17. mikesh 17

    Perhaps we could have a system in which, after an election, the parties could be sorted out into two blocks, a government block and an opposition block. The percentage for each block could then be calculated by aggregating the percentages received by the parties within that block. List seats could then be allocated on the basis of the block percentages rather than the party percentages. This could mean for example that, if ACT won Epsom, National might have to forego one of its list seats in order to maintain block proportionality.

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