The parties on the MMP Review

April 10th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Electoral Commission has all the submissions on the MMP review online. There are over 100 pages of them.

I’ve done a table showing the positions of the political parties on the various issues. While they will not necessarily carry huge weight with the Electoral Commission, they do show what there may or not be support for within the House, when it comes to dealing with any recommendations.

Issue Nat Lab Green NZF Cons ACT United
Party Vote Threshold 5% 4% 4% 5% 3.5% 5% 3%
Elect Seat Threshold 1 None None None unless PV 4% 1 1 1
Elect to List Ratio SQ 80:40 Set ratio SQ 90:30 and PV for Elects
Overhang SQ SQ SQ SQ
Pop Tolerance 10%
Dual Candidacy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
List Ranking Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed Open based on votes in electorate
By-Elections SQ SQ SQ SQ SQ SQ
List MP to lose seat if leave party Yes Yes

Before I go into each issue, I would comment that overall I thought the political party submissions were (perhaps inevitable) very self-interested, and not particularly well argued (little research quoted etc).

On the issue of the party vote threshold, National, NZ First and ACT support it remaining at 5%. I give credit to NZ First for supporting a 5% threshold, when when they failed to make it in 2008. A rare example of principle before self-interest.  Labour and Greens support it reducing to 4% (as do I), and the Conservatives opt for 3.5% and United for 3% – for fairly obvious reasons.

On the issue of the electorate seat threshold to get list MPs, National, Conservative, ACT and United support it remaining. Labour and Green support it going (presumably as a way to stop ACT or United ever gaining List MPs again), and NZ First say that if a party wins an electorate seat then their party vote threshold should drop from 5% to 4%.

On the issue of the ratio of electorate seats to list seats, National and ACT support the status quo. Greens say there should be a set ratio, without saying what. Labour proposes a change to an 80:40 Parliament (even thought that would probably make disproportional results more likely). United goes further and proposes 90:30, so long as there is preferential voting in electorate seats (they believe this means more proportional distribution of electorates, but I would suggest Queensland shows this not to be the case).

The overhang issue has all parties supporting the status quo.

On the issue of dual candidacy (where an electorate candidate can also be on the party list), all seven parties supported the status quo of allowing it. This is no surprise as dual candidacy works very well for political parties. Whether it is so good for voters is another issue.

The parties were also united on the issue of closed lists, with none of them (except United Future who says list ranking should be based on the percentage of party votes a candidate gets) wanting the public to be allowed to rank their lists for them. Again, no surprise.

And once again on the issue of List MPs standing in by-elections, no party wanted a change from the status quo.

In terms of other issues, National suggesting increasing the tolerance for electorate boundaries from 5% to 10%, and Labour and United suggested that List MPs who leave their party should have to leave Parliament.

So overall it is clear that there is no realistic possibility of changes around by-elections, list ranking, overhang and dual candidacy rules. No party supports change there, as it is not in their interests.

There are a couple of differing views on the ration of electorate to list MPs, but none of the parties has come up with a workable alternative to the status quo.

So in reality, the only area where there is a clash of views is on the threshold – 5% vs 4% and whether to have the one electorate seat threshold.

This is not to say that the Electoral Commission will recommend what the parties have submitted. In fact I hope they don’t. They will I am sure apply their own judgement to the issues. But the submissions do show that there is not a lot of parliamentary appetite for significant change.

Tags:

20 Responses to “The parties on the MMP Review”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    1. They don’t have all of them up yet.

    2. Submissions haven’t closed :-)

    3. I’m not sure NZF is principle (though concede it may be), I just think that given the option of both ACT and NZF being in Parliament, or neither ACT not NZF being in Parliament, Winston would choose the latter.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. homepaddock (408 comments) says:

    What this shows is that the referendum and review were the wrong way round. Had the review been first people would have known what they were voting for.

    Some voted for MMP in the hope of change but as you show the chances of much change aren’t great.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    This is all a bit of joke. Complexity dressed up as progress.

    In the old days the average citizen knew that the winner was the person that got the most votes. And was thus accountable. Now we have electorate to list ratios, thresholds, disproportional overhangs, racial seats, and the Sainte-Laguë allocations.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    A minor point, DPF, but the Green Party submission, while supporting lowering the party vote threshold, does not specifically advocate a 4% party vote threshold. It just notes that the Royal Commission and the original legislation to introduce MMP initially suggested a 4 percent threshold, as they viewed 5 percent as being too great an obstacle to the development of new and emerging parties.

    There are quite a lot of us in the Greens who would like to have either no party vote threshold or have it lowered to 2% on the basis of maximising proportionality and minimising the wasted vote.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Pete George (23,680 comments) says:

    There are quite a lot of us in the Greens who would like to have either no party vote threshold or have it lowered to 2% on the basis of maximising proportionality and minimising the wasted vote.

    This is my preference too.

    Some like East Wellington Superhero prefer the old “simpler” FPP, but only their lot are in power.

    I think the starting point should be maximising proportionality and only limiting that if a solid case can be made for it. Wanting your party to have exclusive minority power is not a solid case.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    In the old days the average citizen knew that the winner was the person that got the most votes.

    And then we had two elections (1978, and 1981) where the winning party got fewer votes than its principal opponents, and another election (1993) where the one party got 35.05% of the vote, the opposition parties got more than 60% of the vote, and the 35%ers got to govern.

    When the person with the most votes gets to govern despite being opposed by a massive majority of voters, what the average citizen knew in the old days started mattering an awful lot less.

    Now we have … thresholds, disproportional overhangs, racial seats,

    1. many would like to be rid of the thresholds entirely.
    2. As I noted above, first past the post had significantly greater disproportionality – 35% of the vote could equal more than 50% of Parliament.
    3. The Maori seats aren’t an MMP creation.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    Overall United Future has the best positions there.

    Electorate ranked lists are the real change needed and it doesn’t look like that will happen.

    With closed lists the electorate races are a waste of time and are only contested in a half arsed manner.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    Graeme,

    Proportionality comes second to removability.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Ross12 (1,453 comments) says:

    Totally agree with you , Homepaddock.

    There are alot of people criticising the Govt. at the moment because significant changes are not being made ( to whatever policy you like to name but mainly economic policies). The fundamental reason for this, in my view, is the electoral system because no matter who gets into power it is likely to be by a relatively small margin ( in terms of votes in Parliament). So we will continue to have slow progress and mediocrity.
    I am not suggesting MMP should have thrown out ( even though I voted for another system) but changes are required in the present system . David’s summary suggests it will SQ.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    @Sonny Blount: “Proportionality comes second to removability.”

    Tell that to voters in 1993 – more than 60% of whom voted for the opposition, but saw the government return.

    Also tell that to FPP voters who lived in safe seats. Only a very few MPs were ever really under threat of being removed by voters, no matter how unpopular their party.

    And finally, if you want removeability, then submit to the Electoral Commission that we should ban dual candidacy and open lists.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Electorate ranked lists are the real change needed and it doesn’t look like that will happen.

    Electorate ranked lists (by which I assume you mean best losers getting list spots) is far too open to manipulation by the parties: they’ll just decide who they want in and make electorate selections on that basis.

    Voter ranked lists would give you what you really want. Feel free to recommend them: other countries seem to use them without great difficulty.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. tvb (4,494 comments) says:

    I do not like the way the list ranking can get manipulated with candidates stepping aside to let in another lower ranked MP. I also think lists should be open with the parties presenting a default list only. This will complicate things but I think the public should be able to re-rank say up to 10 candidates and only for the party you vote for. This will complicate counting but I am sure the mathematical geniuses can work this out.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    We need protecting from the politicians as their first thought is for their needs and their 2nd is for their party.
    Not for us.
    When the OIA is on all areas of parliamentary services then I might resile from this position.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ Pete George
    @ Graeme Edgeler

    My point is that the simplicity of FPP, I think, allows for more engagement by more people because the joker you’re electing has to stump up ever 3 years and look you in the eye to their vote. I don’t go and see my local MP anymore. What’s the point? – unless you need help with a government agency or something. The political party (which is usually just a handful of people anyway) chooses the policy and individual MPs are protected/emboldeded by the List (is the Nats and Labour).

    I think accountability is more important than chasing after proportionality – as though proportionality is somehow objectively written in the sky as better than all things. Functioning democracy requires a number of things – one is a media that is not only unbiased, but one that does its job and is able to see through the spin (of all parties) to inform the voters. Otherwise political parties deceive and obfuscate. Since the media don’t do their job, more power is needed by individual voters to leverage their local reps.

    My question to you would be – why do you think proportionality is the holy grail?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ Graeme Edgeler

    Re: “thresholds, disproportional overhangs, racial seats”

    My point is that we don’t even have proportionality or the great liberal utopian electoral system. We have a dog’s breakfast.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    why do you think proportionality is the holy grail?

    I don’t.

    I favour an electoral system in which the vote of each person is worth the same as the vote of each other person, irrespective of where they live, what race they are, or what their political views are.

    I also prefer majority rule (which MMP provides) over minority rule (which FPP generally provides).

    My point is that the simplicity of FPP, I think, allows for more engagement by more people because the joker you’re electing has to stump up ever 3 years and look you in the eye to their vote.

    But only in marginal electorates. In safe electorates, voters almost never ever matter.

    My question to you would be – why do you favour a system in which the accountability of MPs is at an election where they have to front up to voters, but when they do, they can be re-elected even if two-thirds of voters don’t want them?

    If I was designing my perfect voting system, it would not be MMP, but whatever MMP’s faults, FPP is an appalling and completely indefensible system (except perhaps in countries where many voters cannot read or write). Preferential Voting has all the benefits that anyone has ever claimed FPP has, plus it gets rid of minority rule.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Thrash Cardiom (298 comments) says:

    I favour an electoral system in which the vote of each person is worth the same as the vote of each other person, irrespective of where they live, what race they are, or what their political views are.

    I also prefer majority rule (which MMP provides) over minority rule (which FPP generally provides).

    Succintly put – as ever, Graeme.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Alan Wilkinson (1,886 comments) says:

    East Wellington Superhero, have you never lived in a safe electorate seat? Where a handful of marginal seats decide the election and in the rest your vote is completely useless.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. V (745 comments) says:

    Gee, nobody saw that coming, all the pollies basically voting for status quo.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Succintly put – as ever, Graeme.

    Thanks!

    I take it you’ve never read my blog, however. 3000+ words is common :-)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote