I would say that the Tail wagging the Dog is the biggest problem with MMP, except that the federal government in Australia is being held to ransom by three or four independents right now, and they have a glorified FPP system.
I do think that the other big issue is that you can’t get rid of your electorate MP since they will just be back on the list anyway – what sort of system is that?
Dump MMP, I’m sick of it. Perfect proportionality is nice but It’s come at such a large cost. Reduced accountability, poorer geographical representation, faceless party bosses becoming more powerful than the leader, near powerless governments.
A Major plus with dumping it is we wouldn’t have the Epsom and the Ohariu nightmares. That should be enough for many to Vote for Change!!
We should be looking at ways to reduce the number of MPs, rather than considering whether we should maintain the farce that delivers us List MPs / parliamentary overhangs etc.
Anyone in any doubt whether we should dump MMP, should just look at the names of List MPs who have been dumped by their electorate but still find their way into Parliament (so they can continue to suck off the public teat). And then look at List MPs who are not elected by voters at all, but are appointed to a ‘safe seat’ by a party committee. And then consider the List MPs who hang off the coat tails of an elected MP.
Anyone considering MMP, should think of the venal Peters and recall how he played one party off against another in order to leech a Ministerial role in return for ‘his’ / his Party’s votes.
And anyone considering MMP should remember names such as Tanczos / Bradford / Locke / Kedgley / and the sock puppet in the the McDonalds suit who were never elected to Parliament but still managed to suck off the long suffering public teat.
Re: point 9 against MMP (minor parties of Govt disintegrate)…
Do you reckon that’s more a function of MMP, or more a function of those minor parties?
(I’m just thinking minor parties tend to be limited-issue pressure parties, and those tend to attract lunatics and people with axes to grind… Any electoral system that keeps these parties around could have regular minor party implosions as a feature. )
Davids point (3) Parliament is more diverse, and looks more like New Zealand. is fair enough.
I’ve always suspected that up to 10% of the populace are insane and the support for the Watermelons proves that.
It is widely acknowledged that the two most important principles of democracy are equality (everyone’s vote/opinion should count equally) and majority rule. MMP clearly delivers on these principles. Whether you like the Act party or the Green Party, your opinion counts the same and the government of the day must form a coalition which gathers together at least 50% of votes.
Arguments against MMP that draw on popular dislike for MPs like Bradford or Tanczos need to be exposed for what they are: elitist and undemocratic. The fact is that some NZers do support MPs like Bradford and Tanczos, and they are entitled to their view. We may disagree, but that is what democracy is about!
It is also worth pointing out that the popular view that accountability is diminished under MMP is simply untrue. Under FPP, because most electorate seats were effectively “safe,” accountability was as much compromised as it is under MMP. The idea that we could simply “chuck the rascals out” is misguided. In fact, party leaders determined who was assigned a safe seat!
Anyone with half a brain that values democracy will vote to keep and improve MMP in the upcoming referendum!
In 1996 there were 65 electorates. Now there are 70 and it’ll increase again after the census. At this rate we’ll have 120 electorates by the end of the century. Then MMP will revert to FPP with a few stragglers here and there.
How is the number of electorates decided?
(number of electorates) = 16 * (total number of voters in NZ) / (number of voters in the south island excluding the Maori roll)
Adolf: A vote to keep MMP is a vote to potentially reform it: by law it’s required to be reviewed assuming NZ doesn’t vote to get rid of it. I believe Labour has pledged to review MMP if it gets in (unlikely) regardless of the referendum outcome.
I like what MMP tries to achieve, but it has serious flaws that need to be rectified.
(i) If you are in Epsom, your electorate vote is way more important than any other vote–it makes the difference between ACT having 0 MPs and up to 5. Having some electorates matter more than others was one of the negatives of FPP, but MMP is worse! Allowing parties to circumvent the 5% threshold with an electorate is simply stupid.
(ii) In 2008 NZ First got 4% of the vote, but zero representation. That’s a problem. Either the 5% threshold needs to go or we should have preferential voting, so that NZ First votes get transferred to a second preference party.
(iii) The Maori party has more seats than their proportion of the party vote. Maori party voters are rorting the system by giving their electorate vote to the Maori party and their party vote to someone else. This possibility should really be eliminated.
(iv) The number of electorates is not fixed and continues to increase. It started at 65; now we have 70; and it will go up at the next election. So the flaws of MMP will become more and more prominent as we get more electorates.
Baby and bathwater – keep MMP but review it to eliminate some of the stupid features – foremost of which is the rule exempting parties with a single seat from being able to bring in buddies as part of their pseudo-party.
Only ‘real’ parties (i.e. actual political movements with a reasonable organising base and policy foundation) since MMP have been Labour, Nats, Greens, Alliance (briefly) and Act (initially, but they’ve gone downhill). Everything else has been political ego projects premised on deliberately trying to game the electoral system (Colin Craig and Hone Harawira are our new ones for 2011).
Germany (who we modelled our system on) got around this problem because due to their larger parliament parties need either 5% or 3 electorates so the rules still support only parties which have a popular mandate and not fringe movements or personality cults.
I would like to see the MP’s commit to which reforms of MMP they support BEFORE they have to form a government with aforementioned pseudo-parties. If we wait till AFTER they have formed a government with the psuedo-parties then they have a trong incentive to whitewash the review process.
I agree with tas and Richard29. There are some things that can be fixed in MMP, and the independent review will hopefully allow that to happen. But the system is fundamentally the right one.
I do think that the other big issue is that you can’t get rid of your electorate MP since they will just be back on the list anyway – what sort of system is that?
In 2008 exactly 4 MPs lost their seats but returned to Parliament via the list, so this is hardly a big problem. And people in those electorates got the person they voted for. It is no skin of their noses if the former electorate MP remains in Parliament. In general, these people lost because of the swing against their party – not because the voters disliked them personally. Their place on the list shows thaey are people valued by their party and that party got a lot more votes than the electorate winner.Case in point Damien O’Connor in West Coast – Tasman. For a Labour MP he’s a pretty decent bloke I reckon.
Another thing I like about MMP is that because the party vote determines the overall result, we actually have a more powerful choice in the electorate – we can vote for the best person even if they are in the wrong party. It is also a great thing that most electorates effectively get two (or more) MPs. That means an electorate gets better representation.
Also – a lot of what has been spoken of as weaknesses of the electoral system are actually weaknesses in how political parties operate in New Zealand. The closed door, subjective list ranking process is a joke – it doesn’t need to be that way. It gives way too much power to a handful of people and stifles dissent and diversity amongst list MP’s. What NZ needs is an open dynamic system like the US primaries where anybody who is a member of a political party can vote on the formation of the list.
I’d be interested to see how long Phil Goff would have lasted if he depended for his leadership on the popular vote of thousands of Labour party members and not on playing caucus factions off against each other and calling in 20 years of political favours (not to mention being ‘annointed’ by Aunty Helen).
JK would probably have still become the leader of the Nats under such a system, his broad based appeal and likeability is the main thing he’s got going for him. But English’s embarrasing (some might say Goff-like) inability to connect would probably have seen him replaced by a stronger candidate in 2002.
My understanding was that the ACT party ran open leadership primaries, but that’s been revealed as a bit of a joke in the last few months.
The Greens are leading the pack in this area with their list ranking process open to all members.
But even they could do with some improvements. They have an elaborate system of ‘proportionality targets’ for the number of Male/Female, Maori/Non Maori, Younger/Older, and North/South Island candidates. I know this will invite much scorn from the right wingers on this forum but I actually see that as generally positive reflection of the party trying to respond to the fact that they are relying completely on the party vote and should aim be representative of all of NZ and not a single demographic.
Where I have concerns is that even under the Greens system the executive team (including the leaders being ranked) can ‘tweak’ the final list (within limited parameters – nobody can be moved more than 2 spaces from what the voters assigned) to maintain proportionality. At the very least I would like both lists to be published (before and after ‘tweaking’) and preferably they should just let the voters decision stand. Letting people vote and then ‘correcting’ the outcome is arrogant. Not as arrogant as the other parties not even letting their members have a say. But they could still do better.
Yes I am a member of the Green party and voted in the list ranking – I think members of every political party should have the same opportunity I had. It might even see an increase in political party membership and involvement.
Onther idea I’d like to see who be to get rid of electorate MPs. Just go with lists and drop the seperate electorate vote. In 90% of electorates the local vote is already meaningless. Problem with overhangs, split vote and other junk fixed.
During the campaign you’ll still have people from each party campaigning and after the MPs are elected they can have a “branch office” or whatever you want to call it. Plenty of list MPs do this already.
As for voting idiots out just vote for another party or maybe maybe maybe give voters a choise to rank MPs within lists, although several parties already give members a big say on the ranking. Same with ensuring regional/ethnic/whatever mixes or preventing head office from dominating.
I think those who say the tail wags the dog in MMP are really grasping at straws. Even a big minor party like the Greens has only 9 seats, compare that to what National and Labour have and its pretty clear that there is a lot more power in the major parties.
Furthermore, the minor parties represent communities who aren’t defined geographically. Why should they be denied a voice in Parliament just because their members don’t live in the same suburb?
1. Abolish the Maori seats
2. Limit the number of parliamentarians to 100
3. Raise the threshold (10%?)
4. Keep MMP with list MPs only.
Voters vote for a party and for a member of that party. Those party member getting the most votes will get in, no matter where that person is on the list. Votes before ranking. (No chance of ‘tweeking’ there Richard29).
Unfortunately the powers that be didn’t feel this should be an option for the referendum (and in doing so weighted the referendum in favour of MMP).
MMP is almost certain to win the referendum because most people like the idea of proportionality (to a greater or lesser extent) and we have to choose between MMP or 4 systems all of which are less proportional in their results so the majoritarians are split 4 ways.
If they had included an open list proportional option in the referendum it would have attracted a lot of support away from MMP and the referendum result would have been much more interesting.
I would gladly dump electorates altogether and move to open PR. People complain endlessly about the Maori seats but I would argue that (even with the diversity of views amongst Maori) they represent more of a ‘community of interest’ than half of the geographical electorates.
I might have common interest with people on economic views, social views, work interests, recreational interests, whatever – none of it bears any relation to the general electorate boundaries. 90 out of 100 New Zealanders would struggle to name thier local MP and a local issue they have campaigned on and 99.9% of them have never made a request to their local MP, the ‘Local MP’ thing is a legacy from another time…
Pretty good list of arguments David. Though I don’t think many of the MMP-cons have much merit.
“Some of the time, small parties in the middle will get to decide which major party forms government, giving them great power for few votes.”
But only with the consent of the other party to the coalition.
“It is harder to hold a party to account for “broken promises” when the party does not gain a majority, as they can claim they were unable to get their coalition partners to agree to them.”
I don’t really understand this criticism. It’s a judgment call for the voter and it’s up to you to decide if they should be held accountable for something and to then vote accordingly.
“MPs who get defeated as electorate MPs can come back on the list.”
The vote of one portion of the electorate should not be able to nullify the vote of another portion. It’s simply a matter of what that individual MP represents. If he doesn’t represent the local electorate then he represents the party vote for his party. The purpose of local electorates is to give local representation, the purpose is not to “stick it to the MP” such that they can’t represent another part of society.
“Electorates are significantly larger than in the past, making it harder for rural communities especially to access their local MP.”
That’s a bit of a whinge isn’t it? If it’s that important to you get in your car and drive to wherever the MP resides.
“Minor parties can be motivated to be extreme and divisive as they can get representation with just 5 per cent of the vote, even if what they say is repulsive to 90 per cent of the population.”
“extreme” and “divisive” being defined in terms of what the 90% think is acceptable. Democracy is about having society represented in Parliament. 5% are entitled to be represented as much as the 90% and as noted before they only have power with the consent of other parties.
“It can be considerably more difficult for a government to be “fiscally responsible” as minor party demands are often costly.”
Minor parties like ACT you mean? Or are we thinking of a particular political persuasion? This criticism is obviously dependent upon one’s preferred political ideology and when considering an electoral system we shouldn’t be concerned with giving power to the people we personally support. Democracy is about representation, it shouldn’t be about gerrymandering.
“Minor parties in government have tended to disintegrate or get wiped out – NZ First 96-99, Alliance 99-02, United 02-05, NZ First 05-08, Maori Party 08-11.”
So? Democracy is the freedom of the people to change their mind.
“The closed door, subjective list ranking process is a joke – it doesn’t need to be that way. It gives way too much power to a handful of people and stifles dissent and diversity amongst list MP’s. What NZ needs is an open dynamic system like the US primaries where anybody who is a member of a political party can vote on the formation of the list. ”
Those who believe that a review of the MMP will sort things out are dreaming. The pollies will do what suits them not the voters. If they ( the pollies) think the review will be meaningful then it should have put as a clear option in the referendum. That way the voters would be telling them clearly they expect changes and the pollies can be held to account to some extent over what they do. I would vote for the option if it was available but I will not be voting for MMP as it stands on the referendum choices.
“Yes I am a member of the Green party and voted in the list ranking”
Good to have a Green Party member on the blog who seems capable (Unlike Toad and MNIJ) of reasoned an civil debate.
Might not always agree with you but I am looking forward to your point of view and debating the issues.
I’ve never understood this desire for less MPs. If less MPs was the answer, why don’t we just have one? Why don’t we elect a dictator for three years, which is practically what we do anyway? No, NZ needs more MPs, not less. In fact, it needs a Senate, like a normal civilized country with an actual constitution would have. We need a second chamber to check the power of the first.
And yes, lets halve the number of list MPs (about 30, a quarter of parliament, is all we need for proper proportionality) and outlaw double candidacies, meaning you can’t run on the list and in an electorate at the same time.
FPP does it for me and limit it to two parties say the “US” party and the “THEM” party.
All the silly little fringe people who want to either save the planet and the whales or mine the whole bloody place and eat whale meat seven nights a week could lobby the “US” or “THEM” parties and all the in-fighting could be kept in-house where it belongs.
A wonderful, all inclusive, seamless policy could be presented to the sheeple by both parties and a clean election result would be achieved about half an hour after the polls closed.
The sheeple could then get on with what really matters to them like drinking, rooting, growing pot, watching the box, talking about rugby, etc.
Just like what it used to be like in the good old days really!
Just putting forward a view there Johnboy, no need for that sort of language.
Also a good MP would hold workshops on occasion in some of the more remote communities in his electorate – at least that’s what should happen. But just putting it out there for those people like Weihana who obviously only have to go down to their local shopping mall to get to their MP’s office and have never lived in the more remote parts of the country.
gazzmaniac (1,044) Says:
October 11th, 2011 at 6:49 pm
“But just putting it out there for those people like Weihana who obviously only have to go down to their local shopping mall to get to their MP’s office and have never lived in the more remote parts of the country.”
Is that where my local MP is? No idea, never had the inclination to visit my local MP’s office. I’m so lazy I wouldn’t even go to the shopping mall if that’s where it is. I’ve contacted my MP once and I did so via e-mail. Pointless exercise of course.
“If less MPs was the answer, why don’t we just have one?”
Good point. It works wonderfully in Hong Kong, and Singapore for that matter. Which both have about zero crime (a topic dear to me after being done over by bludgers whilst out at the rugby) fantasic tax rates and pretty good economies the last time I looked. Imagine what we could save on the grey ones and only paying one MP?
@Gazzmaniac – both the Conservatives and Labour were held to ransom by the Lib Dems at the last election in the UK, and they have FPP.
Yes, when a third party does come close to overtaking a major party and people are in a mood of being extremely pissed off at politicians in general, coalition governments are definately justified.
No, when a bunch a losers can cobble together a parliamentary majority, based on overhangs, gerrymandering and sheer luck to pip an extremely popular party as can happen in our current system. Loser parties deserve representation but not the right to decide the government most if not all time.
A system where coalitions would occur perhaps a third to half the time would be the healthiest in my opinion, so I am going to support SM.
@Other_Andy – I’ll look forward to it, debate should always be civil, ‘defend to the death your right to say it’ and all… BTW – What happened to the first Andy?
@Pete George – yup, better understanding of MMP would help, but problems with MMP also need fixing. Right now if I were a Green or Labour voter in Epsom I would be considering ‘strategically’ voting for the National electorate candidate – that’s just absurd that the political system incentivises that kind of carry on – it and it is solely a result of the 5% exemption loophole.