Edwards on EFA

September 20th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

continues his excellent summaries of chapters on the 2008 election campaign, with one on NZ First.

Also people will be interested in a draft of an article on how the impacted on third parties last year.

3 Responses to “Edwards on EFA”

  1. pidge (68 comments) says:

    Interesting comment in the article:
    “The party obtained the fourth highest party vote, and was only denied representation in the new Parliament because of the exclusionary and undemocratic five per cent MMP threshold.”

    Last time I checked, we’d voted (i.e. democracy in action) for MMP in that form, to get away from FPP and the gerrymandering possibilities that entails (i.e. a demonstrably less representative electoral system), and kept the 5% threshold to keep the, um, wing nuts out of Parliament like the Germans did. (I’ll stop there to avoid a Godwin)

    So why the additional qualifier on the five percent MMP threshold in the article? Is Bryce a closet Winston supporter? (Or am I just new around here?)

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  2. Bryce Edwards (239 comments) says:

    Hi Pidge

    I agree that the qualifying word “undemocratic” is a rather contentious one in this context. But I’ve always regarded the 5% threshold in the MMP system to be inherently undemocratic in the sense that it rather arbitrarily prevents parties with substantial popular support from taking their place in Parliament. A proportional representation electoral system that prevents smaller parties from being represented is therefore not proportional at all. There are, of course, some logical arguments to be made for having a threshold, but they’re not democratic ones. In my mind, any party that manages to get the support of 4% of New Zealander voters – such as NZ First in 2008 or the Christian Coalition in 1996 – deserves 4% of the seats in Parliament. This doesn’t mean that I support those parties – in fact I rather dislike them both, for various reasons – but my dislike of them doesn’t prevent me from arguing for their right of representation.

    In terms of your (anti-democratic) argument that the threshold keeps the “nuts out of Parliament”, I’d suggest that many New Zealanders would think that the threshold seems to be failing and that the “nuts” are already there in substantial numbers!



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  3. pidge (68 comments) says:

    Hi Bryce,

    Thanks for the reply. I now understand why you added the qualifier – an unstated philosophic position.

    I’m sure there are also arguments that “Popular” is not necessarily synonmous with “Good Government” (e.g. Bill and Ben 🙂 – then again, they would be an entertaining diversion). Again, back to the original reason for the % threshold. But I’ll let that lie.

    Re: Nuts – I think it’s either a requirement (as in “you have to be nuts to do the job”), or acquired on the job. I know I’d not want the job!

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