The MMP Review

February 13th, 2012 at 1:22 pm by David Farrar

The Commission has launched a website for the review of MMP. You can make a submission to the review online.

The review is not binding on Parliament, but will provide a set of recommendations. The timetable is:

  1. Written submissions can be made up to Thu 31 May 2012, but if you wish to also make an oral submission then the deadline is Thu 5 April 2012
  2. Oral submissions can be made from Tue 24 April to Fri 18 May 2012
  3. A proposal paper released on Mon 13 August 2012
  4. Submissions close on proposal paper Fri 7 Sep 2012
  5. Report presented to Minister of Justice on Wed 31 Oct 2012

So I encourage people to have their say. If you remain silent, then you will be leaving it to unions and lobby groups to dominate the debate.

The issues the review will cover are:

  • the thresholds for the allocation of list seats,
  • list members contesting by-elections,
  • the rules allowing candidates to both contest an electorate and be on a party list,
  • the rules for ordering candidates on party lists,
  • the effect of a party winning more electorate seats than its party vote share entitles it to,
  • the effects of the ratio of electorate seats to list seats on proportionality in certain circumstances, and
  • other matters referred to the Commission by the Minister of Justice or Parliament.

Two issues can not be considered, under the law which set up the review. They are the total no of MPs in Parliament, and Maori representation.

It is my intention to blog on each issue individually, and discuss the pros and cons of potential changes.

What I would also like to do is arrange some public forums in major centres, where a range of speakers can advocate for and against some of the significant possible changes. I think hearing a contest of ideas is one of the more effective ways to get people interested in the issues, and to come to a conclusion on them.

I don’t have the resources to do arrange the public forums myself, but am happy to work with some others to do so.

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70 Responses to “The MMP Review”

  1. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    The operation of the list needs serious overall. Why should the voters br shut out of the ordering of the list. Why can the list be manipulated after the election by candidates standing aside in favour of others. Why do some mps who lost their deposit standing in an electorate find their way into parliament through the list.

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  2. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    DPF, I’ll be doing what I can to promote discussion of this in Dunedin as part of the ‘Dunedin voice’ initiative, happy to work with anyone on this.

    The MMP review is exactly the sort of process we are setting up to address here. Public meetings, online and media information and discussion/debate, and possibly making a joint city submission based on consensus/vote/local referendum. Strength in numbers.

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  3. Simon Lyall (100 comments) says:

    I blogged a (hopefully fairly full) list of possible options for MMP changes here:

    http://blog.darkmere.gen.nz/2011/11/options-to-change-mmp/

    that people may find useful

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  4. Brian Harmer (686 comments) says:

    Is there room for consideration of what happens when (as in the case of the late Alamein Kopu) a list member falls out with the party (s)he was elected to represent. In my view , if they part company with the party they should automatically cease to be a member (no choice, no resignation … they are simply no longer eligible, and out they go) , and the next one on that party’s list should step up. Party hopping should not be an option for list members.

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  5. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    tvb,

    Why should the voters be shut out of the ordering of the list?

    They are not – if they join a party they can participate in that party’s ranking process (and lobby to change the process if they are not happy with it.) Why on earth should a voter who does not support a given party have any right whatsoever to determine who should stand on that party’s list, let alone what ranking they might get?

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  6. Mark (1,360 comments) says:

    This is going to create a series of interesting topics for this forum.

    There are a few things I would like to see considered for a start.

    1. A threshold for securing list seats that applies whether or not you win an electorate seat. I am not necessarily wedded to 5% but it is a starting point. I would not like to see it less than 3%.

    2. List MP’s who leave the party should leave parliament and be replaced by the next list candidate.

    3. List votes to be transferable if your party drops out of the running much like STV. That way you will be more inclined to vote for a minor party near the cusp and not be concerned your vote may be wasted.

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  7. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    bhudsen are you serious??? I used to be involved in a political party including being an Office Holder and I can tell you the involvement of party members in the list ranking process is minimal. There needs to be DIRECT voter involvement in the list rankings. How exactly I am unsure. But it could be similar to the Australian senate where the Party supplies the default list but a voter can opt to re-rank say the top 10 people for their chosen Party. It rankles with me that Andrew Williams who barely got 500 votes for the North Shore finds himself a member of Parliament and then SELF selects himself to represent the North Shore electorate. The democratic deficit with list MPs is too much and needs correcting.

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  8. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    3. List votes to be transferable if your party drops out of the running much like STV. That way you will be more inclined to vote for a minor party near the cusp and not be concerned your vote may be wasted.

    I think this one is an important one. There’s a significant pool of swing voters who wait until they can see what small parties might make parliament via an electorate MP or geting to the list threshhold. This movement is mostly in the last week or two of a campaign.

    In the last election, when it became apparent due to media coverage and polls that NZ First were likely to make the threshold soft votes swung to NZF (away from other parties).

    Despite electorate polls throughout the term indicating Peter Dunne was likely to be returned in Ohariu the media created a lot of doubt (it must have been based on the word of Chauvel because little else backed their assertions) and some in the media wrote off United Future for what couldn’;t have been much other then personal preferences. This doubt discouraged swing voters from voting for United Future.

    The current system gives too much potential power to a handful in the media.

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  9. DJP6-25 (1,268 comments) says:

    If you want to stand for party X, you apply. When the list of candidates are finalised, party members get to rank the list. One natural person, one vote. If you leave the party, you’re out of parliament. No standing for both the list, and an electorate.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  10. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    tvb,

    Absolutely serious.

    I used to be involved in a political party including being an Office Holder and I can tell you the involvement of party members in the list ranking process is minimal.

    The answer is to make use of the position and influence to change the party constitution to allow the members to have greater involvement. The solution is not to allow people who are not members to tell you how to run your party, how to select your candidates, or how and where they should be ranked.

    It rankles with me that Andrew Williams who barely got 500 votes for the North Shore finds himself a member of Parliament and then SELF selects himself to represent the North Shore electorate.

    By the same argument, it is the right of NZF members to put Williams at #2. The voting public have the right to not vote for NZF – it would seem clear that those that did vote for NZF either endorse his ranking or do not have a strong enough opinion on it to influence their vote.

    As for the self-selection, List MPs from all parties tend to associate themselves with a given electorate. Those that don’t support him don’t have to acknowledge his self-selection.

    The simple arguments against general voter influence on party lists are:

    1. It removes decision making and the right to determine their own destiny from the parties
    2. It reduces the incentive to join that party – you get real influence without membership and participation within the party (and also without any responsibility)
    3. It allows people to influence ranking within parties they oppose

    Do you think Mana Party supporters should have some say on the ranking for Bill English? Or Steven Joyce? Remember that while National was clearly more popular than any other party, the collective of those against it would be large enough to have some real influence in an open list ranking process.

    I do not think that opening list ranking to a general vote would add any value at all to the calibre of candidates – in fact, sniping between opposite sides at the others’ respective lists would be more likely to result in an overall weakening of the lists as they each try to take out their opponents’ high calibre candidates.

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  11. rouppe (914 comments) says:

    The exclusions are a bit of a shit. I’d quite like to see the threshold reduced but abolish the Maori seats…

    Sure you’d get some clowns being elected (so not much changes) but if people want to treat parliament and governance as a joke, then clowns is what you get

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  12. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    1. Rank party lists in order of number of electorate votes received

    2. Increase the number of electorate MPs to 90, reduce the number of list MPs to 30

    3. Introduce preferential voting for electorate races

    4. Change the list MP threshold to 2 electorate wins.

    5. Any MP that does not take their position on the list when it becomes available is ineligble to stand for that party at the following election.

    6. Increase the parliamentary term to 4 years.

    7. Introduce a limit of 4 terms for an MP to represent a single electorate or its immediate neighbours.

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  13. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    Is their not a fee to join a party?

    If there is a seperate vote for party members to rank their lists then you would have to pay to cast this vote. That is not democracy.

    Having an additional vote to rank lists or pretending that voters are ranking 200 MPs in any meaningful way when they vote for a list is also a perversion of democracy.

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  14. James Stephenson (2,010 comments) says:

    How about ranking the list in terms of difference between personal electorate vote, and party vote? It seems simple, but no doubt I’ve overlooked some glaring reason why it’s a stupid idea.

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  15. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    James Stephenson (774) Says:
    February 13th, 2012 at 3:59 pm
    How about ranking the list in terms of difference between personal electorate vote, and party vote? It seems simple, but no doubt I’ve overlooked some glaring reason why it’s a stupid idea.

    Its pretty much the same as what I have suggested, just on percentage rather than absolute votes.

    I prefer absolute votes so that 1 person=1 vote. If you use percentages then 1 person=0.9 votes in one electorate and 1.1 votes in another.

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  16. Shazzadude (505 comments) says:

    How about a rule that the list candidate rankings are determined by the percentage of votes won in an electorate race?

    This would help ensure proportionality and a direct electoral mandate. It would also mean that votes for minor party candidates meant something, as a vote for them would help increase their chances of getting into parliament. Parties could perhaps be allowed to rank a leader and deputy/two co-leaders, and then the rest are ranked according to electorate votes one.

    e.g. on the numbers of the last election, New Zealand First under this system would look as follows:

    1. Winston Peters, leader spot
    2. Barbara Stewart, deputy leader spot
    3. Brendan Horan, 12.6% of the vote in Tauranga
    4. Ray Dolman, 10.3% of the vote in Bay of Plenty
    5. Fletcher Tabuteau, 6.9% of the vote in Rotorua
    6. Kevin Stone, 6.1% of the vote in Coromandel
    7. Brent Catchpole, 5.5% of the vote in Papakura
    8. Edwin Perry, 4.5% of the vote in Taupo

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  17. tas (590 comments) says:

    I absolutely agree with Pete George. Party votes should be transferrable if your first choice party doesn’t make it in. The current system makes polling excessively influential, as voters want to avoid wasting their vote.

    I completely disagree with Brian Harmer. If an MP decides to leave their party, chances are there’s a good reason and a fair chunk of that party’s voters also changed their minds about the party. More importantly, how do you define “the party”? Your proposal takes away the most basic power of an MP–voting–and vests it in an undefined entity.

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  18. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Two problem with ranking list candidates based on their electorate vote.

    Electorate contests are not equal. Candidates ambitious to get in on the list will look for electorates that improve their chances based on the strength/weakness of the party in the electorate, and of opposing candidates.

    Some list candidates don’t stand in electorates.

    Most issues will be addressed by
    a) improving the quality of candidates across the board
    b) improving the quality of voting
    c) improving the quality of the media coverage and opportunity for interference (probably the hardest)

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  19. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    As an explanation needed when two of the points I made are taken together.

    The votes for ranking party lists from electorate votes made with a preferential vote system would be the number of 1st choice votes the candidate has at the iteration of vote transfers that puts a candidate over 50%.

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  20. James Stephenson (2,010 comments) says:

    I prefer absolute votes so that 1 person=1 vote. If you use percentages then 1 person=0.9 votes in one electorate and 1.1 votes in another.

    I’m suggesting looking at the difference between party vote and electorate vote, so the further your personal vote is behind the party vote in your electorate, the lower your ranking. I’m trying to work through the implications for tactical voting in places like Epsom – Labour voters ticking the National candidate would tend to lower the list-ranking of their own candidate…

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  21. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    Electorate contests are not equal. Candidates ambitious to get in on the list will look for electorates that improve their chances based on the strength/weakness of the party in the electorate, and of opposing candidates.

    So?

    I don’t see the downside, in fact it is an upside. Under every system there are better and worse seats to stand in for one party or another.

    If electorate votes get you in on the list then an electorate with poor polling on your side of the political aisle could be attractive because it should have a lot of upside. A candidate that would get a poor spot in internal ranking will go for this because their future is then in their own hands.

    A seat that receives a lot of votes for your side of the aisle is also attractive as a place to get votes from people of similar persuasion (ie safe Nat seats become targets for ACT candidates, and safe Labour seats become targets for Greens)

    With electorate vote ranked party lists, every electorate is in play all the time, and a politicians career hangs on their ability to run a campaign and persuade people to directly vote for them.

    Most issues will be addressed by
    a) improving the quality of candidates across the board
    b) improving the quality of voting
    c) improving the quality of the media coverage and opportunity for interference (probably the hardest)

    That is very wishy washy.

    You could fix the world simply by ‘improving’ things. What is the mechanism you suggest will cause these improvements?

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  22. tas (590 comments) says:

    I am also interested in the suggestions of Shazzadude, Sonny Blount, and James Stephenson. Rather than letting parties rank candidates via backroom politics, let the public rank them using their electorate vote. Candidates that do well in an electorate get pushed up the list.

    I’m not sure how to implement such a system. There are two problems I can see: (i) Not all electorates are the same. Regardless of how good the National candidate for Mt Albert is, he or she will get a lower portion of the electorate vote than a terrible National candidate in Tamaki. (ii) Labour voters could manipulate the system to bring more left-leaning National candidates into parliament, though one could argue that this is a feature, not a flaw of the system.

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  23. James Stephenson (2,010 comments) says:

    @PG – that’s why I thought about looking at the gap between electorate and party vote – it measures the relative popularity of the candidate versus their party.

    Some candidates don’t currently stand on the list, but if your ranking was calculated as I suggest then that would change – the problem would then be to avoid the union-stooge effect that we see with the Labour party.

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  24. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    I’m suggesting looking at the difference between party vote and electorate vote, so the further your personal vote is behind the party vote in your electorate, the lower your ranking. I’m trying to work through the implications for tactical voting in places like Epsom – Labour voters ticking the National candidate would tend to lower the list-ranking of their own candidate…

    Seeing as lists are created from candidates all from the same party comparing their electorate votes to their party votes becomes irrelevant.

    Comparing their vote tallys/percentages directly will lead to the same result.

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  25. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    You could fix the world simply by ‘improving’ things. What is the mechanism you suggest will cause these improvements?

    I agree it’s vague. But it’s where the real gains will be made. We can tweak the electoral system from one imperfect bunch of rules to another, but if the quality of candidate and voter is poor what will change? A slight reshuffle of who makes the cut, and the grizzling will continue.

    Real change, real improvement, is harder to define and achieve, but despite all the systems imagineable to try and get the right balance parties will work around the rules to their advantage, and voters will keep floundering around.

    Better candidates and better voting will improve the quality of parliament regardless of the finer points of our electoral system.

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  26. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    Some list candidates don’t stand in electorates.

    Because we have 60 electorate MPs and 60 list MPs.

    So long as there is an equal number of list MPs to electorate MPs it is very, very hard for them to be kicked out of parliament when they lose an election.

    I believe we have never needed more than 18 list MPs to achieve proportionality.

    If we increase the number of electorates to 90 and/or introduce preferential voting it will become easier for an MP to find a suitable electorate for them and easier to tip up incumbents due to a nullification of vote splitting (Peter Dunnes personal political lifeline).

    It will be very easy for the Greens for example to pick up half a dozen and is why I suggest a list MP threshold of 2 electorates to nullify the phenomenon of personality cults masquerading as political parties.

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  27. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    bhudsen I am suggesting you can only re rank list candidates for the party you vote for. If you do not exercise this option then the rankings default to the party list. Most will do nothing and use the list supplied by the party. You arguments about party involvement etc are specious and ignore practical reality on the way political parties operate.

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  28. Manolo (13,327 comments) says:

    Are Labour lite and Key still committed to abolishing the racist Maori seats?

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  29. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    Pete George (12,304) Says:
    February 13th, 2012 at 4:30 pm
    You could fix the world simply by ‘improving’ things. What is the mechanism you suggest will cause these improvements?

    I agree it’s vague. But it’s where the real gains will be made. We can tweak the electoral system from one imperfect bunch of rules to another, but if the quality of candidate and voter is poor what will change? A slight reshuffle of who makes the cut, and the grizzling will continue.

    Real change, real improvement, is harder to define and achieve, but despite all the systems imagineable to try and get the right balance parties will work around the rules to their advantage, and voters will keep floundering around.

    Better candidates and better voting will improve the quality of parliament regardless of the finer points of our electoral system.

    I agree that the quality of voters is the real game but that is a different discussion than this one.

    Although it does apply where additional and complicated votes reduce the effectiveness of votes. Simple and clear voting is a requirement of effective democracy.

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  30. James Stephenson (2,010 comments) says:

    Seeing as lists are created from candidates all from the same party comparing their electorate votes to their party votes becomes irrelevant.

    How so? Consider three electorates:

    West-coast Tasman, Damien O’Conner got 15,753 electorate votes versus 9200 party vote for Labour

    Helensville, Greenbrook-Held got 4945 versus 5138

    Epsom, David Parker got 3751 versus 5716.

    So the “no-hoper” put in against the Most Popular PM Ever (TM) ranks higher than a recent leadership contender…it would certainly shake up the status quo in terms of how desirable electorates are!

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  31. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    Oh, I get it now James. I thought it was against the national party vote.

    I still don’t like it. I believe that the 15,000 people who voted for Damien O’Conner should get a candidate before the 5000 who voted for Greenbrook and those again before the 4000 who voted for Parker.

    The other advantage of electorate ranked lists is that every significant block of voters will have a candidate in parliament that they have directly voted in. ie the 49% of people in an electorate who voted for a National candidate will have an MP and the 46% who voted for the Labour person also will.

    Any electorate that votes more than about 30% with 2 ticks for Red, Blue or Green will have an MP to represent them.

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  32. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    There is also an oportunity to raise additional things.

    other aspects of the MMP voting system can be considered, so if you think there is an important issue that has been overlooked,

    I think the publishing of opinion polls should be looked at, especially in the two to four weeks prior to the election. That is the time when most of the soft vote movement occurs, and the opinion polls lag this so don’t reflect the changing scenario very well.

    Pol manipulation of polls is also a factor. There were obvious discrepancies in Horizon (has anyone heard of them since the election?).

    And iPredict which was easily stoked with a modest amount of money, and this happened frequently – at times curiously close to their snapshots. They denied any manipulation, but in the week before the election they suddenly started banning anyone they deemed to be manipulating – so their final predictions were more accurate?

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  33. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    So Pete, what we need is less free speech?

    We are stuck with the voters that we have got, what you suggest does not imply that you have a great deal of respect for them?

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  34. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    tvb,

    I am suggesting you can only re rank list candidates for the party you vote for.

    Well surely that is best addressed through membership. Why should someone who takes on no responsibility or active involvement other than to exercise a general vote every three years have say in any party’s list ranking? That is worse than the process you claim now – you say that current members have effectively no say, but would grant equal influence to those who do not even join. I think that undermines those who choose membership (and is also a good way to erode membership numbers.)

    You arguments about party involvement etc are specious and ignore practical reality on the way political parties operate.

    I take exception to that. Whether or not it is the way parties operate today, the way to bring about change is to join and lobby for change. Build a body for change and vote within your party to change its constitution.

    That is the way to advocate for and achieve change. Be it a political party, an interest group, a sports club, a club or other community group – you join, get active, lobby for the change you want; build a group of supporters around you and vote for the change.

    What you are asking is for someone else to make your change for you.

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  35. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    So you have to join a group and pay a fee to participate in our democracy?

    No thanks.

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  36. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Sonny,

    That is simply ludicrous. A membership fee is no more paying to vote than taxes are.

    If you take your argument to its logical conclusion, you are saying that you should have a vote on every community, sporting, interest group in society even though you choose not to join any/many of them.

    Good luck to you walking into a Business Roundtable meeting and exercising your democratic right to elect the chair. Or the Manufacturers Federation. Or UNITE union for that matter!

    Your democratic right is to exercise your vote in the general election. Or to choose not to. There is no requirement vis-a-vis democracy for you to decide who stands and which position they have. (Especially when you can always stand yourself if you choose.)

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  37. mikenmild (10,618 comments) says:

    It’s ludicrous to suggest that party lists should be chosen or ranked by anyone who is not a member of or affiliated to a party. Political parties are essentially voluntary organization. From memory, the Electoral Act already imposes a duty on them to operate democratically. The sanction of the wider voting public is enough to keep them in check.

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  38. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    This of course is just political slight of hand to avoid facing the real issue for Kiwi’s.
    The real issue is that no matter what system is imposed upon us for voting, it matters not a jot when you get to Parliament.
    Parliaments rules are the issue that should be addressed. But like the number of seats which has been to referendum and the Maori seats which it was recommended they be scrapped at the setting up of MMP, Parliament and its MP’s won’t vote to have their rules changed.
    The issue is the abuse by parties and MP’s of their power. Specifically I am referring to using whipping to block vote without listening, nor taking any account of the voters and the public’s whishes. The best example being the 104 to7 vote against the return of youth rates. Of course youth at that age don’t vote so they have had their freedom of assciation and rights to work curtailled by MP’s who didn’t have enough courage to stand up and go against their whips. Its beyound statistical belief that 104 out of 111 people could all hold the same belief. Its outrageous use of power.

    Im sure there are many more instances where the Parliament of the day could be made more accountable to the taxpaying, voting electorate, but not while whipping is used to force people to vote en masse.
    Kinda like North Korea in its concept.
    Ask yourselves; if our parliamnet was being set up today would we allow whipping to be the controlling force. I doubt it very much.
    I accept that it probably should apply to confidence and supply although even then if you have to use brute force and ignorance to win the day, you have lost.

    No amount of tweeking the MMP will make any significant change for we can be sure that MP’s, Parties et al will game the system just like they have forever.
    Parliament in action remains less acountable for its results than Teachers and beneficiaries. And look how you all complain like hell about them.

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  39. big bruv (13,217 comments) says:

    Some people amaze me.

    For years now we have heard various people bang on about the tail wagging the dog when it comes to the work of the house yet for some strange reason many of those same people want the threshold to be lowered.

    If we achieve nothing else with this MMP review we should at least see the threshold rise to roughly 8-10% before anybody gets a list seat.

    Or, have we all forgotten the actions of that piece of shit Bradford who managed to force her will on the 83% of us who did not agree with the anti smacking legislation?

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  40. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    V2,

    Parliament doesn’t have whipping. Parties do.

    What you are suggesting is that MP’s should be able to join parties, use them to help to get elected and not be under any obligation to act in the party interests, its values or its wishes.

    What you are professing is that MP’s should be allowed – should be encouraged – to be parasites who will use a group [party] to get elected so that they can do as they please, when they please, without consideration for that group, without whom they would never have been elected.

    Think this is somehow not true? How many independents have been elected recently?

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  41. Tautaioleua (281 comments) says:

    Every registered party should be forced BY LAW to actively consult with its wider constituency in relation to the candidates on list. Unfortunately, some parties have abused the list by favouring certain factions/ideological positions. This is the enemy of New Zealand democracy.

    We use to entertain unionists every now and then who would only turn up when the list was being discussed on the agenda for example. Stack voting at its prime, if you ask me.

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  42. reid (15,917 comments) says:

    Shame we can’t ask how come the referendum to ditch it didn’t get hardly any publicity whatsoever by comparison to the hysterical level of publicity we were all subjected to when FPP was on the table.

    Amazing how many people who claim they really are serious defenders of our democracy seemed happy to go along with the charade last election. Almost as if they didn’t want to rock the boat. And I’m not talking about bloggers I’m talking about political leaders and journalists, mostly. They’re the influential ones and almost all of them on both sides, were almost totally and utterly silent.

    Weren’t they.

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  43. mikenmild (10,618 comments) says:

    We had a referendum. Opponents of MMP had the opportunity to promote their alternatives, and failed to put a convincing case.

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  44. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    reid,

    I’m sure the stock standard answer from the electoral commission would be “nobody was interested in politics with the rugby world cup on.”

    In fairness the PM did express his personal intention to vote for SM. And every left wing candidate and leader was more than happy to state their support for MMP.

    A genuine, open education campaign may not have yielded what you want in any case. A genuine education campaign would have given the public all of the objective information to make up their own minds. That would, almost certainly I suggest, have led to a spread of votes across the alternative options.

    Meanwhile it is no secret that the MMP campaign encouraged supporters to vote to keep MMP and select FPP as the alternative option as they were very sure that it would fail in a 1-on-1 run off against MMP. Clever.

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  45. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    big bruv – there’s nothing that indicates the tail wags the dog.

    Bradforh’s was a private members bill, not part of the government coalition. It was supported by nearly all MPs in the final vote, so that’s just about the whole dog minus it’s eyelashes.

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  46. Rightandleft (627 comments) says:

    I very much like the idea of the Party Vote being changed to a preferential voting system where we can rank parties. I couldn’t vote for my first choice party in the last election (United Future) because I feared a wasted vote. Were I able to rank them I could have put UF as number one and National as number 2. I also think the threshold should be lowered to 3% to allow for more proportionality while at the same time eliminating the loop-hole that allows parties like ACT, Maori or Mana to get in on electorate seats. The tail wagging the dog issue has always come from incredibly small parties getting in on this loop-hole with less than 3% of the vote.

    I’m a fan of MMP because I grew up in the incredibly disfunctional FPP system in the US. I think more proportionality is a good thing and the best part of the NZ system is it doesn’t give the minority power unlimited ability to stall and even block all legislation the way they get to in the US.

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  47. Graeme Edgeler (3,262 comments) says:

    Because we have 60 electorate MPs and 60 list MPs.

    We have 70 electorate MPs and 50 list MPs (excl overhang).

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  48. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Graeme,

    Though surely that number is a little fluid – depending on the size of the Maori electoral roll

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  49. reid (15,917 comments) says:

    In fairness the PM did express his personal intention to vote for SM.

    Yes that was one story one time bhudson. That’s really my point. Due to I suspect, the vested interests of the coalition partners without whom National couldn’t govern, NZ’s last chance to ditch the system which was introduced into Germany in order to prevent anything like the Nazi Party from ever arising again and which is specifically designed to keep left and right arguing meanlessly (notice that’s what’s happened here?) was endorsed by the idiot sheeple who follow politics so lightly half of them probably didn’t even know there was a referendum until they turned up to vote.

    This is our constitution we’re talking about, and those arseholes who were in a position to put it before the public, never did, except in extremely lightweight, transient ways such as Key’s one-time statement. (Probably so he could claim he DID put it before the public.) The asset sales publicity on the other hand, was ubiquitous by comparison. Which of the two is more important?

    What REALLY fucks me off, and frankly saddens me, is the wankers whose job it was to publicise it [the right, cause the left were quite happy for it to remain as is and naturally, lacking all ethics, were always going to remain silent about the alternative choices since MMP plays right into their hands - (why do you think it was intro'd into Germany FFS?)] behave as if no-one noticed their execrable behaviour. Well, some of us did, and it speaks volumes about where you pricks come from, once you scratch the surface.

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  50. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Rightandleft: I couldn’t vote for my first choice party in the last election (United Future) because I feared a wasted vote.

    Why did you fear a wasted vote?

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  51. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    reid,

    If the PM and the National Party had publicly taken a stand on the issue they would have been vilified for trying to distort the electoral system they were re-elected under. A no-win situation.

    The reality of the matter is that is was the public’s decision as to which system they would operate under. John Key and National made it clear that they would operate under whichever system the public chose.

    Ultimately that is exactly how it should be.

    Now, as to the point about whether more could have been done by the non-political, public organisations whose responsibility it was to ensure the public were adequately informed on the options…

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  52. mikenmild (10,618 comments) says:

    So who did introduce MMP to Germany then?

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  53. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    bhudson (1,422) Says:
    February 13th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    V2,

    Parliament doesn’t have whipping. Parties do.

    Allowed only by Parliament.

    What you are suggesting is that MP’s should be able to join parties, use them to help to get elected and not be under any obligation to act in the party interests, its values or its wishes.

    Well the parties interests are notnecessarily the taxpayers or residents interests are they? It might be so if the parties made their committments clear and stuck to them but in my experience they only say what they think will allow them to win and then do what they please.

    Much of the last 80 years has been devoted to the ignoring of the electors who are stuck with this system which allows that a group of people in power rule the waves regardless of the good it does or does not do. The two main parties are barley separated at the hip and will continue to play good cop bad cop forever. ( 9 years on and 9 years off.)
    NZ is increasingly poor because of bad management by parliament. Management that is dictated by the parties with the use of blackmail.
    Voting in Parliament should be free and secret. That way the best policy would be argued to gain the most votes. Tribal voting sure doesn’t do that.

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  54. Rightandleft (627 comments) says:

    Pete, I feared a wasted vote because there was no good polling on Dunne’s chances in the Ohariu seat and the media was saying it wasn’t a sure thing. Since UF’s polling was nowhere near threshold that would mean a totally wasted vote if Dunne lost there. Since he’d already essentially promised to go with National anyway I decided I’d just have to vote straight for them even though I only agreed with about half their policies. I thought Dunne was the clear winner in the small parties debates and loved his education and immigration policies.

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  55. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    V2,

    What you would seem to be advocating is a return to a House with a majority of independent MP’s. We had that once. And we could have it again.

    All it needs is for people to stand as independents. And enough people to vote for them.

    History points to the voting public preferring the level of certainty they perceive they get from the political parties. Even if that is not perfect, they vote parties and not independents.

    Nothing is stopping the country having exactly the system you advocate. Other than the public not voting for it…

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  56. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Thanks Rightandleft, pretty much as I expected. Annoying really, because the media were aware of consistently positive polling for Dunne but chose to run a negative campaign.

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  57. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    V2,

    Also “allowed by Parliament”.

    Parliament is nothing more than the collection of MP’s elected to it. They, as a body, are the highest authority within NZ [especially when you consider that the Sovereign's powers are not as absolute as you might think.] They are elected as representatives of the people, as it should be. But as members of their respective parties.

    If the parties have whips, then just who do you expect could actually stop it?

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  58. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Kill it with fire.

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  59. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    PIA,

    Guido Fawkes tried that.

    It wasn’t a roaring success…

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  60. Griff (6,704 comments) says:

    V2
    That is a good an argument as any to drop the threshold and allow more independent MPs
    No matter wot we all think of possum head,no mana,Maori party or act they still have the option of voting against the governing party
    And give a more independent parliament rather than one controlled by the nameless ones behind the partys

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  61. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    BTW, party ranked lists are one of the main reasons Labour are so fubar right now.

    They have not had the kind of organic weeding out of MPs that the voting public can provide, and careers are no longer made by those who excel at local campaigns.

    The other main reason for electorate ranked MP is so that ministers can each be held to account seperately. Those people that like John Key and would like him to lead the party can still get rid of Brownlee, Bennet, or Tolley by kicking them out of their seats. Coatailing on the back of a popular leader will not be as safe an option.

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  62. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    I think more proportionality is a good thing and the best part of the NZ system is it doesn’t give the minority power unlimited ability to stall and even block all legislation the way they get to in the US.

    That is a deliberate feature of the system. It is doing what it was designed to do.

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  63. GJKiwi (179 comments) says:

    There are some very interesting points raised here. However, let us look at the basic reason behind MMP in the first place. MMP as a system was developed in order to provide diversity whilst not leading to instability in Government. Some history is relevant here. MMP was formulated by the Germans following World War II at the behest of the Western Allies who vetted the system before allowing it. The Germans wanted a stable yet diverse system. Up until the end of the First World War, Germany was a Monarchy. Following the German defeat Wilhelm II abdicated and there was a revolution, which led to a completely proportional democratic system, whereby, if a party gained a certain proportion of the vote, it gained representation in Parliament. This unfortunately led to the splintering of parties and then to the rise of extremism, with the Nazis and the Communists gaining the highest proportion of representation in Parliament, with eventually Hitler gaining power and leading to WWII. So, of course, following this, all interested parties, including the Western Allies were pretty keen on there being no repeat of this disastrous course of events. So, in the Grundgesetz or basic law, it states quite clearly that the party is the carrier of the will of the people. How a party formulates a list is up to the party, and it it up the party to decide. If the majority of people vote for that party, it becomes Government, or, as is the case mostly. So really, people who didn’t vote for, nor care for Winston Peters for example, might be upset that he or his list colleagues gained representation in Parliament, or likewise a single constituency candidate such as Peter Dunne, who only gained 38% of the vote in his electorate, and way less in the party vote. However, MMP fulfils its intended function: diversity of opinion and yet reasonable stability. There has been no unstable Government in New Zealand since MMPs inception, even during the last term of the Clark Labour Government, which was a minority Government. As noted, we aren’t quibbling about kicking the system out. MMP was a clear winner in the referendum, despite a reasonably well financed campaign against it. We are simply arguing about semantics. My suggestions are simply this: if a person such as Peter Dunne wins a seat and his party gain more than the percentage of vote necessary to elect one MP, such as the case was with Rodney Hide and ACT at the previous election, tough, they get 1 MP only. 5% works pretty well as the threshold, as, although sometimes a party has received over 4% but under 5%, but that is seldom the case. At most elections since the inception of MMP, the total of all votes for parties standing in an election but not reaching the 5% threshold was under 5% in any case. The overhang is a simple enough issue. We leave it as is, as there is no other way of dividing up the party vote to correct proportions in allocation of seats in parliament. Restricting who might be able to contest by-elections seems to me to undemocratic. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to? I should think we should ban TV and radio personalities first, who have an unfair advantage. Seriously though, good on them. If they wish to, let them do so by all means. As stated earlier, individuals make some difference, but not a lot, with the exception of Peter Dunne and John Banks, who were electorate candidates in the first place. When I was growing up I recall that when someone was asked who they were voting for, it was never a single candidate, it was always either Labour or National, or in some cases the party leader, most notably Rob Muldoon. However, the party was the thing, even under FPP, and yet, as we know, some people’s votes never made any difference to the outcome of the election. Now, everybody makes a difference, even those under the threshold, as they can still vote for a electoral candidate.

    In short, MMP provides a very stable and yet diverse range of opinion and representation, and it is bedding down very nicely, just as it did all those years ago in Germany, which took over 15 years to do so, where it has provided the most stable and economically successful Government in possibly the entire world.

    Sonny Blount: Individuals might not be able to be held accountable directly, but if a party as a whole pisses off sufficient people, such as ACT party and the Maori Party they are gone. Labour, too have been hammered. They will get the idea, although, like National in 2002, they took some time to learn the lesson. In Germany, whenever the liberal party (The Free Democrats) changed coalition partners, they got hammered at the next polls, and so it has happened here.

    Viking2: the only problem with secret voting is that then we wouldn’t know who is responsible for voting for what legislation and so we wouldn’t know who to vote for or not at the next election.

    Griff: read my history as to why we don’t want any more independents. Independents leads to splintering of opinion and, as each party has to have its turn in speaking, can lead to parliament getting bogged down, hence having the threshold in the first place.

    I also think that if you split from your party, and you aren’t an electorate MP, you are a gone burger. Leave by the nearest exit and come back at the next election should you and your new party be elected. That is the only major change that I personally would advocate.

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  64. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    You misunderstand what democracy is in practise GJ.

    It is the peaceful transference of power. It is a mechanism for the citizenry to remove people from power.

    The idea of voting in people or policies is far behind in how democracy affects governance.

    The position and power of being an MP is such that each one needs to be individually accountable to voters. The current system of party ranked lists has taken MPs a step away from each individually being able to be removed straightforwardly by voters, and it has created the possibility of a ruling class of inner circle MPs in each party. These MPs can remain with all the power and privilege that position affords for 40 years or more regardless of the fortunes of their party because anyone in the top 20 or 25 of National or Labours list is guaranteed their position, even if they lose badly.

    A character like Steven Joyce who will be overseeing the sale of the SOEs needs to either make himself accountable to voters, or remain as a staff member in the National Party rather than voting on laws and private members bills on the back of votes for in effect, John Key. I certainly wouldn’t have been happy if Heather Simpson had been voting on Sue Bradfords bills without standing for election in an electorate.

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  65. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    MMP was introduced so that peoples votes weren’t wasted.

    It was not intentionally introduced so that parties could go about their business and installing MPs without having to worry about having them accountable to voters.

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  66. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    The position and power of being an MP is such that each one needs to be individually accountable to voters

    MMP provides far more accountability, through the whole country not just a small electorate.

    Philip Field caused far more damage to the Labour list than it did to his electorate.
    Rodney Hide’s antics were more damaging to ACT party vote than to his electoral vote.

    The notion that list MPs are not accountable is a red herring.

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  67. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    How was the Labour front bench affected by the Philip Field affair?

    There may be a case for 1 or 2 randomly selected out of favour backbenchers were affected but none of the people whose handling of it mattered were ever worried about the election costing them their status as MPs.

    It’s not Trevor Mallard or David Cunliffe that pay for their actions, they are friendly with the leaders or their union bosses, it is Raymond Huo and Stuart Nash who bear the consequences for the others actions.

    Or was the message from the electorate to the Labour party in 2011 that Stuart Nash was not wanted in parliament?

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  68. AG (1,759 comments) says:

    Sonny,

    “How was the Labour front bench affected by the Philip Field affair?”

    Well … they lost government in 2008. And failed to regain it in 2011. I suspect they found that somewhat upsetting.

    “It’s not Trevor Mallard or David Cunliffe that pay for their actions, they are friendly with the leaders or their union bosses …”

    And they also were handily reelected by the voters of Hutt South and New Lynn in both 2008 and 2011.

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  69. BlairM (2,286 comments) says:

    I think party lists should be selected by voters, not party elites. I think it would be pretty straightforward to organise as well:

    You hold a primary ballot two weeks before the actual election. Each registered party has their own ballot paper, with candidates which they themselves have pre-selected. Voters choose ONE party’s ballot to vote on (they can’t vote on multiple parties’ lists). Voters then rank the candidates in the order they prefer. Each party’s votes are then counted and a list is formulated according to the STV system. The list is published and becomes what people vote on for their party vote two weeks later. You are of course under no obligation to vote for the party you voted on in the primary.

    I see no reason why this wouldn’t work or be a good idea (US primaries seem to work pretty well). I think most people would choose to vote on the list of a party they would support. There may be a few who choose to “spoil” the list of a party they do not support, by voting on that list, but I don’t think it would be significant, and even if it was, that’s all part of democracy too. Voting on a list you don’t support costs you the opportunity to have a say on a party you do support. And it might stop more unpopular candidates from being elected.

    I think the best part of this system would be that list MPs would actually have to campaign for popular support, instead of greasing up to a few party officials. It would mean that many of the worst list MPs that we all know and hate would never have been elected, or come anywhere near.

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  70. Paulus (2,493 comments) says:

    I believe it was Conrad Adenaur who introduced MMP to Germany to prevent the rise of another Hitler.

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