Vote for MMP, anything else is just crazy

Written By: - Date published: 6:51 am, November 24th, 2011 - 40 comments
Categories: electoral systems, First Past the Post, MMP, Supplementary Member - Tags:

I see that the Nats in drag anti-MMP campaign have brought space on our banner. Now I know the mood of the authors on this subject.  They like MMP, really don’t want anything else, and would like to fix some of the rough bits. They regard this years referendum as a monumental waste of time and resources. So my first thought was to simply boot the irritating and outright noisy junk off our site. But then I looked at their pathetic ad. I decided that it was more effective to take their money, counter it (like the Standards enhanced logo?) and comment on it.

As their banner showed, the anti-MMP’s only effective tactic is that of some rather pathetic scare tactics which completely ignore the real issues with MMP. They don’t say anything about the advantages of their preferred options. The tinkering with MMP we will get to deal with next election after we have to finally put the crazies pointless referendum to death this election. This years referendum is a just a waste of time. The one in 2014 is where we can fix MMP, which appears to be the only thing that the anti’s ad appears to actually want us to do.

In my opinion, no-one in their right mind would want to go back to the arbitrary fait governments that first past the post (FPP) (and its ridiculous cousin supplementary member (SM)) would give us again. Giving minority governments that had well less than 50% of the vote, and often well less than 40%, absolute control over the country caused some of the worst economic and social mistakes in this countries history. It allowed very small cabals of people who were essentially not beholden to anything apart from their gerrymandering party to make major decisions without more than minor consideration of the voters. The system excluded ‘losers’ in each electorate because they wound up effectively not being represented by anyone in parliament.

This culminated in the Muldoon government’s stupidity trying to withstand the forces of external change but doing it 20 years too late, and doing it against technical advice. Followed by the Act cabal’s arrogance inside Labour wanting to change everything too damn fast and not being careful enough about the damage that caused to the following generations (my mother volunteering at Woman’s Refuge is still picking up the intergenerational damage decades later). The Richardson National government ineptly playing copycat as a followup wasn’t exactly a great example of the benefits of a first past the post system. They were voted in not to do that type of widescale economic change – they did it apparently simply because they could..

Effectively we had more than 25 years of absolute chaos where small groups inside our government played simplistic and abrupt games with the economy ignoring the screaming as our society was stretched to the breaking point. That was why when the politicians finally gave us a chance to change voting system it was emphatically changed to a system that requires a higher degree of voter agreement. It makes the process of change in response to external changes much more gradual and a lot more consistent. For all of the political conniption since MMP was introduced. The abrupt changes in the economy that tore our society to pieces from the early 70’s to the mid-90’s have largely ceased. We’d managed to pay back our governmental debts caused by successive governments experiments in how to rapidly shed value, and were in really good shape to withstand the current global meltdowns – well at least until John Key started smiling and waving on Letterman.

Now I’m a pragmatic person and quite conservative (especially as far as my younger relatives are concerned). When the original referendum was held, I didn’t vote for MMP. I voted for a change to anything apart from the terrible FPP system whose original purpose was to keep idiot aristocrats in power. On the second vote I voted for single transferable vote largely because the aussies had shown that it sort of worked, and the fervor and rhetoric of the MMP advocates sounded more like the religious flagellation1 than something used in the real world.

Ok – I was wrong. Not about the nutters. They still sound just as hysterical now as they did then – just more right wing than they were then*. But MMP is great for expressing a democracy within the current available technology (ie periodic voting for representatives). It forces politicians to spend a lot of time talking to each other and to the electorate. You have to work the public opinion, and these days you have to work it in a environment where anyone could potentially start up a blog or facebook page and enter the political discourse directly.

Because if you don’t carry at least a major part of electorate forward with you and get the implied acquiescence of must of the rest then you will suffer the fate that National and its coalition parties will have this year. Effective political extinction of one or more parties as being irrelevant to the voters purposes, and the reduction of a major political party to scrabbling for votes in the house. This isn’t a bad side effect of MMP. This is the whole point of MMP. A politicians job is not to order, it is to communicate and convince because if you don’t carry the other side then you merely cannibalize the votes of your coalition parties as National is doing.

The implied checks and balances inside MMP are quite awesome if you’re a person like me who specializes in building stable systems. It makes most common political manipulations quite ineffective over the medium term. You cannot lock large amounts of vote in ineffectual protest parties as used to happen with Social Credit or the Values party. They either get big enough to get into parliament or they die out over a few election cycles. If they get into parliament then their effective power is limited both by their seats in a classic representative style, but also relative governmental experience. There is no real point in new party or new MP trying to jump the promotional queue during coalition negotiations. It is a sure way to lose seats (as the Maori party appears to be finding out).

Half arsed political tactics like the rights attempted staking of Winston Peters in 2008 that would have worked3 in a FPP environment don’t work for long in MMP. The voters will revive them if they have a constituency. Politicians are forced to compromise with the idiosyncratic mood of the voters, and with their occasional idiocies (including in my opinion the resurrection of Winston).

Which leads us back to the purpose of this pointless referendum on MMP. To me there appears to be the single argument behind this years pointless referendum. The supporters of FPP and SM are just nostalgic for the old days when little cabals of political figures could sit around and plan to take over a corner of the world without bothering to do much more than suckering the voters with elegant spin. It isn’t a point that goes down too well with the public who really don’t want to pushed around by the older versions of those pimply arrogant jerks. Since that particular wet dream isn’t popular, nothing else really makes any sensible reason to shift back to the 1960’s, so we get strange scare ads like the one that was playing on our blog as I wrote the post.

So I enhanced our logo with a ad from the pro-MMP side and wrote a post about why…

 

1: The type of flagellation that ACToids and other similar nutters expect others to do for them

2: And I have to say that dogmatic lefties of faith (think of Bryce Edwards) were preferable to dickheads like Cameron Slater attempting ‘humor’ and bumbling through this new fangled concept of thinking. In the dinosaur days that he belongs in, they’d have just shipped the failures to the colonies. I’d like to point out that whilst the NZLP isn’t nasty, I sure as hell am. And I have reasons to be especially nasty to a hypocrite like him.

3: There are lots of examples of this. Problem is that I’m writing this after midnight and after I have spent a long day building e-day targeting profiles on my ‘holiday’. Look then up yourself.

40 comments on “Vote for MMP, anything else is just crazy”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    I’ve been having fun telling younger voters about Rob Muldoon. Most are taking MMP for granted now, but are horrified when they realise Muldoon was governing this country with less than 2 out of 5 voters supporting his Government. Let’s not go back.

  2. weka 2

    Lynn, can you make the ad in the TS banner linkable to http://www.campaignformmp.org.nz/ instead of to TS? That way if people get distracted by the ads they have the option to go to http://www.campaignformmp.org.nz/ instead of the anti-mmp one, without having to scroll down and find the other pro ad lower down.

    • lprent 2.1

      Umm. A lot of people including me us that area to go “home”. But of course they can just use the Home link for a couple of days.

      Done. (and I bet that increases the traffic to campaignforMMP for a bit).

      • weka 2.1.1

        Thanks. I use the TS logo to go to the home page too, but agree it’s worth the sacrifice 🙂

      • felix 2.1.2

        How about an image map with both links? Me and my habitual clicking…

        • lprent 2.1.2.1

          I was thinking about it at 1am this morning. But I have two electorates still do some work on, and I’m off holiday today and back to work (setting priorities on threads right now).

          Ain’t going to happen right now. But I will set it up so that can be done the next time I have to use this.

  3. Blue 3

    I think it needs to be pointed out again that you don’t have to vote for any of the alternative systems on the ballot paper.

    You can just tick the box to keep MMP and not bother with Part B.

    • lprent 3.1

      Usual thing though. If there are enough crazies, then do you want the choice to be between MMP and FPP in 2014. Wouldn’t it be better to be between MMP and STV?

      I’m one of those people who has as a mantra that “Murphy is an optimist – he should have just said that things will go wrong. They will always go wrong in ways that you cannot predict.”

      • rosy 3.1.1

        I’m thinking between MMP and FPP would be best because we know that MMP can beat FPP. There are no new ‘facts’ that can be thrown around in that debate.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          I’d tend with lprent on this one, better to set it up so that there is no ‘lose’ option on the ballot paper.

          Rather tory strategy I know but thats what they do.

          • swordfish 3.1.1.1.1

            Yep, 1prent’s hit the nail on the head.

            If all of us voting to RETAIN MMP in the first part of the referendum vote STV in the second part then we set up a brilliant insurance policy. In the event that more than 50% opt to CHANGE SYSTEMS in the first part (still possible given that MMP tends to win by a plurality rather than absolute majority in opinion polls), then we set up a 2014 Referendum between two entirely proportional systems. Lose-lose for the Nact-Business Roundtable nexus.

            Mind you, it’s probably far too late to get that message out now. You’d really need the overwhelming majority of MMP supporters to go STV in Part Two. But good to see that people here have picked up on this ! Does my heart good, so it does.

      • Lanthanide 3.1.2

        If we look at the 4 sorts of outcomes where MMP is rejected by part 1 by a narrow margin (51/49):

        1. Lots of people voted to keep MMP and fewer people vote in part 2
        2. People vote for FPP in part 2 (already the clear leader in opinion polls)
        3. People vote for STV/PV in part 2 to muddy the waters
        4. A large proportion of people vote for STV/PV

        In the case of 1, while we would have “less legitimacy” in the result of part 2 should part 1 fail, this doesn’t actually mean squat in reality and at best could only result in another referendum (say all 49% of people who voted to keep MMP refused to vote in part 2), so in practice we’d end up with MMP vs the most popular of the part 2 options.

        In the case of 2, we set up a run off between MMP and FFP, which MMP will almost surely win.

        In the case of 3, we make a more even field between the part 2 options so there is no distinctly clear winner. Like in the case of 1, it seems that this could result in another referendum (say the results were 24.9%/25%//25%/25.1% or 33/33/33/0) or a choice between MMP and the most popular one.

        In the case of 4, we set up a run off between MMP and STV/PV, essentially a ‘win-win’ outcome from our perspective.

        In order of outcomes where we must choose between MMP and another system, I’d say we’d like 4, then 2, then 3, then 1. Given FPP’s existing lead, I think #4 simply won’t happen, even if that’s the best outcome. We’re more likely to end up with #3 or #1 than we are #4, but #2 is preferable to both of #1 and #3 (and is the likely outcome of those anyway).

        On that basis I’m just going to go with the flow and vote FPP because I know it’ll fail.

        Probably the worst outcome we could have is MMP vs SM, so voting for FPP will help prevent that.

        • Deuto 3.1.2.1

          Morning Lanth. I am probably just being thick, but cannot work out the difference between your two STV/PV options at 3 and 4. If someone votes to retain MMP in Part 1 of the referendum and then for STV or PV in Part 2, which is this in terms of your options 3 and 4?

          • felix 3.1.2.1.1

            Yes, I’m quite thick about that too. What do you mean, Lanth?

          • Lanthanide 3.1.2.1.2

            The differences between #3 and #4 are simply the actual outcome of the 2nd vote.

            At the moment FPP is streets ahead with something like 40% of the vote, STV on 17%, SM/PV on 5-6% and the rest being undecided.

            If we assume that most people are going to vote with FPP, then a portion of the population who want to keep MMP and so deliberately vote for the ‘least-bad’ option of STV in part 2 would result in a #3 outcome. The only time a #4 outcome would happen is when most people in the electorate make a clear choice of STV. That is highly unlikely to happen, based on current polling.

            So given a choice between #1, #2 and #3, I think you should pick #2 and vote FPP. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy in that if no one votes STV then #4 can never happen, but I suggest that #4 is already so unlikely that we’re better off preventing #1 or #3 from happening because we can be quite sure that, should it come down to it, MMP will beat FPP were they to go head to head. Certainly voting for FPP is better than voting for SM as MMP vs SM would be a much closer race.

            It’s not so much a case of “vote FPP because you like it” but “vote FPP in order to make sure that SM can’t be the run-off vote”. Really it’s like Epsom: vote Goldsmith to keep ACT out, not because you actually like him, because the majority vote is going to be split between these two choices anyway. Voting for STV/PV would be like voting for Labour or Greens: idealistic, but doesn’t really stop Banks from winning the seat.

            • deuto 3.1.2.1.2.1

              Thanks – I now understand and will think about it. Definitely a case of “hold my nose’ when voting if I go with FPP in Part 2.

              Re not filling in Part 2 (which I was orginally thinking of), will definitely be doing so after thinking it through. Also, all good advice I have seen and heard recommends doing so in the (unlikely but still possible) chance that MMP does not win out in Part 1.

              Was particularly impressed with the RNZ National programme the other day on the MMP referendum and various options, where it was recommended to do so. [Not impressed with RNZ National over recent months, but this was a goodie.]

    • Vicky32 3.2

      “I think it needs to be pointed out again that you don’t have to vote for any of the alternative systems on the ballot paper.”

      That’s good to know! 🙂

  4. queenstfarmer 4

    There’s been an anti-MMP campaign? Not a chance it will go. MMP is the devil we know, and makes sense on a general fairness test. With some minor tweaks it will be fine. As someone said (was it Phil?), Germany seems to get by quite well with it.

  5. A long time ago I got really fed up with singing and dancing ads everywhere so I got some pretty good adblocking and I never knew you even had a banner until you mentioned it now.

    Message to your advertisers: I don’t even see them. Let alone read them.

    • lprent 5.1

      I think that they are aware of that *grin*. What they are also counting on is that most people simply don’t bother. I tend to mostly just ignore ads.

    • Vicky32 5.2

      “Message to your advertisers: I don’t even see them. Let alone read them.”

      That’s true for me as well, I have Adblock Plus. Awesome! (Cos I have dial up..)

  6. Afewknowthetruth 6

    The advertisers have got one thng right: Winnie cannot be trusted to promote the common good. On the other hand, he can be trusted to play the system to the hilt for personal gain.

  7. g says 7

    we must be moving into the age of irony.
    mr key upset with being recorded against his will after passing the search and surveillance bill (despicably abled by the labour party).
    teflon john, by his mismanagement of the fall-out from the tea tape, has ressurected live into the winston first party.
    and now the anti mmp crew whos best example of all things wrong with mmp ís the act party (the convulutions in epsom and their leader who was elected from which electorate?)
    you have just got to laugh

  8. deuto 8

    Lol – good on you, lprent! But just watch that workload and bp; we don’t want a repeat of you know what.

    If it is of interest (given the various views on methodology), Horizon released a poll on the MMP referendum yesterday – http://www.horizonpoll.co.nz/page/186/mmp-50-say-keep-it

    They should be releasing their last election poll results today as all polling and results must cease at midnight tonight according to their site – http://www.horizonpoll.co.nz/page/183/final-election-poll-vote-now

    [I have finally worked out how to include two links in one comment – learning is slow but steady!]

  9. Key, caught out fibbing again. This time on MMP and SM: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/election-eleven-thursday/

    I was going to end by asking, “Has this man no shame?”

    But I’d get laughed at. Obvious answer, really.

  10. randal 10

    national love confusing people.
    while people are trying to understand all nationals broken promises and sheer lack of ability they are getting dragged into a stupid argument on MMP that has been totally mangled by the press who seem to have beome illiterate on anything that isnt about style or accoutrements.
    we have a ninny government and a ninny press to support them.
    ugly dude.

  11. chris73 11

    “Want a good reason for not voting MMP. Look at the people who are telling you to.”

    http://rwrnz.blogspot.com/2011/11/elections.html

    • NickS 11.1

      /facepalm

      Oh fuck off, the phrase you’re disingenuously misusing refers to looking at the majority of the anti-MMP crowd, rather than merely cherry picking one example, like you’ve done. Furthermore one of the features of representative democracies is that all views get a chance for representation in parliament, even the ones that can be seen as repugnant.

      • chris73 11.1.1

        Also unions, the Greens, Labour and Mana support MMP which are all good reasons to dump it

        • NickS 11.1.1.1

          Because better levels of representation in democracy is such a bad thing…

          So in other words, you think we should go back to FPP, which is highly prone to being unrepresentative and prone to gerrymandering for what reasons exactly?

          • chris73 11.1.1.1.1

            So in your warped world view its MMP or FPP, maybe you and your leftie looney friends should stop looking at everything as if its a tribal battle.

            • NickS 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Well, you haven’t even bothered suggesting what we should change to, and the alternatives the anti-MMP crowd have suggested other than FPP are generally just FFP in drag with similar problems, while the rest of MMP-like alt’s all allow for minor parties to get into parliament easily. Furthermore, you’re trying to dodge teh question.

        • NickS 11.1.1.2

          /yawn Eh, I’m almost back to being able to work fulltime, but had to pike today due to a build up of fatigue that not even a quad-coffee cuts through, so onwards to some cluebatting!

          Also unions, the Greens, Labour and Mana support MMP which are all good reasons to dump it

          Why? It’s almost like you’re saying these three groups are teh evilz and thus anything they put forward is “bad” right off, instead of using ye olde critical thinking to examine their reasons and the costs/benefits and evidence etc.

          Also, wtf is so bad about unions? They’re mostly responsible for a whole range of stuff that has made work a lot less dangerous and much better paying and force businesses (and the government) to justify cuts to pay and other things.

  12. lprent 12

    Looks like the anti-MMP crowd don’t want to advertise here anymore – I wonder why?

  13. chris73 13

    I’m voting for Supplementary Member, I agree with proportional representation but I feel that electorate MPs provide better value and are more important then list MPs so this is a good way to change the ratio

    I really just didn’t like the heading and some of the comments is all

    • lprent 13.1

      Figure out something like

      Greens get 10% of the vote, fail to win an electorate seat because their support is countrywide rather than localized. So they get 10% of 30 seats = 3 in a parliament of 120.

      Their 10% of the vote gets 2.5% of the seats in parliament under SM. Under MMP it would get 12 seats = 10%

      I guess you don’t actually support proportional representation after all. John Key likes it because it wastes votes…..

      • chris73 13.1.1

        No system is perfect (except for fascism as long as I’m in charge) but I’d also drop the number of MPs to 99

        I think an electorate MP has more of a mandate (not to mention being held accountable) than a list MP

        • lprent 13.1.1.1

          Different story to make it deliberately as imperfect as possible. That is just poor workmanship.

        • fmacskasy 13.1.1.2

          “I think an electorate MP has more of a mandate (not to mention being held accountable) than a list MP”

          Really?

          Let’s take the Rongotai Electorate in the 2008 election…

          Annette King (L) got 19,614 electorate votes

          Chris Finlayson (N) got 10,594 electorate votes

          But Finlayson also got 11,950 Party votes

          In effect, Finalayson’s TOTAL Party and Electorate votes were greater than the Electorate votes that King won.

          So how does one have a “mandate” and the other doesn’t?

          Let’s be honest here; SM is simply FPP + Add Ons.

          SM returns total power to just one of the Big Two parties.

          And SM makes smaller parties irrelevant. In fact, why bother with paying for ineffective small party’s MPs at all? They won’t achieve anything. We might as well call a spade a spade and opt for FPP.

          Then we can have repeats of absurd election results where Labour won MORE votes than National – but FPP gave MORE seats to National.

          It’s not just downright unfair, it’s nonsensical. Who the heck supports an electoral system that doesn’t represent the will of the people in a fair and rational manner?

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