National and the business elite led by former Telecom chairman Peter Shirtcliffe (who led the pro-FPP campaign back in the 1990s) want to replace MMP with a voting system called Supplementary Member. SM is kind of a halfway house between FPP and MMP. Rather than the total number of seats a party has in Parliament being determined by its share of the party vote as in MMP only the list seats are proportional in SM. This does not lead to a proportional Parliament. It basically guarantees a huge majority for a party that wins both a lot of electorates and a large share of the party vote.
Now, before you righties get all excited, consider what that would have meant in 1999. Here, I’ve worked out what would have happened if the 1999 and 2008 election results had been under SM, with the same number of list and the electorate seats won by the same parties:
Yeah, righties, 2008 would have been more fun eh? 65 seats for National, plus four for ACT. Imagine the agenda they could push through with those numbers. But consider what the Left would have been able to achieve after 1999 if Labour had 63 seats and the Alliance and Greens were chipping in another nine. Rigging the system doesn’t look so fun now, eh?
SM fails to achieve the aim of the majoritarians who want to get rid of MMP because they don’t think minority voices should be heard in Parliament or think that (somehow) MMP lets a 5% party can hold the country to ransom. If the last election result had occurred under SM, all the parties currently in Parliament would still be there, albeit some of them half the size. SM still has the ‘confusing’ elements of MMP, like two votes and lists.
At the same time it fails to satisfy the basic fairness test of a good electoral system. The guiding principle of a democratic electoral system must be that your vote has an equal weight in the make-up of Parliament as anyone else’s – if you support a party that 35% of people support that party should have 35% of the seats, if you support a party with 10% support it should have 10% of the seats. Nothing else is fair. SM isn’t a proportional system. It favours major parties and small parties whose support is concentrated in a few seats.
Supplementary Member sucks. It’s MMP for me.