The final MMP recommendations

November 5th, 2012 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

The has made its final report reviewing MMP. There is little change from the draft proposals.

The key recommendations are:

  1. The one electorate seat threshold for the allocation of list seats should be abolished. I agree, as I think it promotes tactical voting rather than voting for the best candidate. I do not though it would make Parliament less proportional in some cases.
  2. The party vote threshold should be lowered from 5% to 4%. I also agree. I would not go lower, but I think the original Royal Commission had it right at 4%. it also reduces tactical voting by having a lower threshold.
  3. There should be a statutory requirement for the Electoral Commission to review the operation of the 4% party vote threshold and report to the Minister of Justice for presentation to Parliament after three general elections. I disagree. Let’s not keep tinkering with it.
  4. If the one electorate seat threshold is abolished, the provision for overhang seats should be abolished. I agree.
  5. Consideration should be given to fixing the ratio of electorate seats to list seats at 60:40 to help maintain the diversity of representation and proportionality in Parliament obtained through the list seats. I agree – this means that over time Parliament may grow beyond 120 seats due to population growth in the North Island.
  6. Political parties should continue to have responsibility for the selection and ranking of candidates on their party lists. I agree, but I think there should be greater obligations on parties to involve members.
  7. Political parties should be required to give a public assurance by statutory declaration that they have complied with their rules in selecting and ranking their list candidates. A meaningless feel-good gesture. Better to have some requirements they must meet.
  8. In any dispute relating to the selection of candidates for election as members of Parliament, the version of the party’s rules that should be applied is that supplied to the Commission under section 71B as at the time the dispute arose. Agree.
  9. Candidates should continue to be able to stand both for an electorate seat and be on a party list at a general election. Disagree. I think this turns List MPs into shadow electorate MPs. I would treat the jobs as quite different. Also dual candidacy encourages tactical voting rather than simply voting for the best party and the best candidate.
  10. List MPs should continue to be able to contest by-elections. I disagree, as I think it means the outcome of by-elections are people get elected who are not on the ballot paper, and it encourages tactical voting.

The Government is going to consult with all political parties on the recommendations. I predict they will all continue to advocate what is in their self-interest, rather than what is in the interest of the best electoral system. That is because all parties believe the best electoral system is one that gets them into Government!

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28 Responses to “The final MMP recommendations”

  1. Reid (16,491 comments) says:

    We should lift the party threshold not lower it. How else are we going to keep out all the mentals? It needs to be at least 20%. The Gweens will never get that high.

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  2. TimG_Oz (862 comments) says:

    Interestingly enough – if the proposed rules were implemented, the only change we would have seen is a possibly hung parliament. Nats + ACT + UF = 60; The Rest = 60;

    So wouldn’t these suggestions just be making things worse?

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  3. Elaycee (4,393 comments) says:

    DPF:

    …this means that over time Parliament may grow beyond 120 seats due to population growth in the North Island.

    Nooooooooooooooo…!

    I cannot accept the notion that a country the size and population of NZ, needs more MPs than the current number. Indeed, I would be very surprised if the electorate was in favour of anything but a reduction in the number of MPs from the current number of 120 to, perhaps 80.

    For my 2c, I still find it daft that Parliament contains MPs (from both sides of the House) who are not accountable to an electorate and can remain in Parliament simply because they curry sufficient favour with the persons compiling their Party List. If an MP is voted out of Parliament by their electorate, they should remain out.

    Most disappointing. :(

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  4. eszett (2,417 comments) says:

    Just why is tactical voting such a bad thing?

    I think the recommendations are very reasonable and I think 9 and 10 are pretty spot on. I never could understand what the big deal was. The ability to have list candidates also stand in electorates encourages much more political discourse and participation. It is good for democracy and the upsides by far outweight the downsides

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  5. Reid (16,491 comments) says:

    Most disappointing.

    We’re supposed to be disappointed Elaycee. If MMP was a good system they’d hardly have made Germany do it after WWII, would they?

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  6. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    There should be a statutory requirement for the Electoral Commission to review the operation of the 4% party vote threshold and report to the Minister of Justice for presentation to Parliament after three general elections. I disagree. Let’s not keep tinkering with it.

    Why not look at ‘tinkering’. If we can make it more democratic with minimal adverse effects then we should at least look at how things are working periodically.

    TV3 report:

    If the party vote threshold is lowered to 4 percent, the commission recommends that after three elections it should undergo a review to see if it should be lowered further.

    “At 5 percent, it is higher than it needs to be to strike the right balance,” the report states.

    “It could be lowered to 4 percent without any risk to effectiveness or stability and this is what we recommend be done.”

    The report notes on past MMP results, it could even be lowered to 3 percent without “significant risk”, but this would be a “step too far at this stage”.

    Just over half of all submissions on the party vote threshold were in favour of lowering or abolishing it altogether.

    Dropping to 4% is conservative, as is waiting three elections before considering making it more democratic at 3%.

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  7. Huevon (222 comments) says:

    Abolishing the “coat tails” rule will cause problems. Consider this situation:
    Party A election result: 4% party vote (assuming threshold is dropped), no electorates = 4.8 seats in 120 seat house (assuming overhang is dropped too).
    Party B election result: 3.99% party vote, 1 electorate = 1 seat in 120 seat house, other party votes disregarded.
    Which outcome is more democratic? Given MMP’s objective is “proportionality”, which outcome leads to more proportional representation?

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  8. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    I disagree with your views on electorate/list MPs DPF. I think the current rules make sense as they allow good quality candidates to stand in electorates that they have little likelihood of winning.

    Under the current rules, National might stand a really strong candidate in Palmerston North. They’re unlikely to win, too many lefties in PN, but they also get a good list place. That is good for democracy and good for PN – seeing a strong competition. And the candidate themselves can still get in thanks to their list place. They haven’t been “rejected by their electorate.”

    Under your suggested rules, that same candidate would not stand in PN, they’d be list only. Or they’d get involved in a battle with others in their party to get one of the “safe” seats.

    Even worse, someone else does stand in PN, a weak candidate, but there’s always someone will put their name forward. And for arguments sake, their competing Labour candidate turns out to be a muppet (could happen) and tanks. So they get in. And so now the weak candidate is an MP, and the strong candidate (who was list only) doesn’t get in, because National don’t get a top up from the list.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the current system other than a few drop kicks who cannot get it through their head that if a National person stands in a very strong Labour area, and then doesn’t win, that doesn’t mean they were “rejected by their electorate.”

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  9. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    Huevon – the best way to avoid that is to further reduce or remove the threshold, something the commission is too ‘cautious’ to do despite “just over half of all submissions on the party vote threshold were in favour of lowering or abolishing it altogether”, and despite it providing the best proportionality, and despite there being no evidence it would be detrimental to stability.

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  10. Positan (390 comments) says:

    @ Reid – I agree wholeheartedly. MMP is a moribund system whichever way it’s looked at. Not only does it lower any and all prospect of “workability,” the country actually pays to accommodate some of the most dysfunctional of intellects along with their out-of-touch and unworkable policies. To lower the party vote threshold at all is utter madness, given our past experiences. A minimum of 10% would have been far more realistic and an upturn in our parliament’s productivity could have been actively and conclusively demonstrated.

    It’s always worthwhile to reflect back on the days of FPP – in particular on the fact that a mere 60 members back then were far more productive in respect of rational legislation than has ever been case since Rod Donald and his sneaky Greens managed to “sell” us this system of self-emasculating nonsense and all its inbuilt MP-serving protections.

    Now, our “official” bunch of PC-addled regulators is mooting that we lower the kindergarten-stage levels of entry even further. How low can we go?

    Truly, we must implore that God defend New Zealand – we’re certainly not doing it ourselves.

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  11. Reid (16,491 comments) says:

    MMP is designed to prevent radical changes, that’s why they installed it in Germany. It means a revolution like Rogernomics is no longer possible and it dictates vapid mediocrity. Tell me that’s not what’s happened since we got it. I mean look at the miserly asset sales program, with only one sector on the block and the 50% block and yet publicly and vote-wise, still there’s issue after issue and asset sales programs aren’t even radical.

    As a system, it stinks. I was really pissed off the bastard politicians on both sides didn’t even fucking well talk about the MMP referendum in the last election and neither did the media, nowhere near the extent you need to do to educate the 90% out there who understand nothing about it, probably not even its initials. But because all the bastard politicians have a vested interest in keeping it none of them bothered to put it out there and the media let it happen, because they’re full of lefties who also have a vested interest in keeping it. But this isn’t their democracy it’s ours. They are there to represent US not them and that applies to both the bastard politicians AND the media.

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  12. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    If the one electorate seat threshold is abolished, the provision for overhang seats should be abolished.

    Does this mean that f the Maori Party get three Maori seats and only 1.5% of the vote, they lose one seat, as that should only entitle them to 2 seats?
    It ought to.

    [DPF: No it means they allocate one less list seat to the other parties effectively]

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  13. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Why in any deities name would you want more MP’s than we already have?

    The intellectual standard of the bastards we have now is lower than the most public bars.

    The list continues to bring into Parliament, boyfriends, girlfriends , party grovelers and little committee men being rewarded for arse kissing for years. Its a fucking travesty and makes a mockery of the democratic process.

    To think that some clown whose major contribution to getting selected on the list is he has sold chook raffles and taken the local meetings notes for 10 years can sit in our Parliamnt and vote on laws that affect me, I say bullshit to that and get fucked.

    Then they spend months on something as unimportant as homo’s wanting to get married and pretend they have done something. Bills like that should be passed in 4 minutes and then they can get onto important stuff, but no they don’t because most of them are too fucking stupid to introduce anything resembling a sensible bill

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

    Does this mean that f the Maori Party get three Maori seats and only 1.5% of the vote, they lose one seat, as that should only entitle them to 2 seats?
    It ought to.

    It does not mean that. The Maori Party has never benefitted from Overhang.

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  15. OneTrack (3,111 comments) says:

    We want less MPs, not more. 100 max. As it is we have heaps of non-government, list MPs who appear to be on permanent paid holiday – what is Grant Robertson doing in the US and who’s paying him while he is there. No doubt we are, and no doubt we paid him to go there as well. Cruisey job if you can get one – where do I sign up.

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  16. Yoza (1,879 comments) says:

    “Why in any deities name would you want more MP’s than we already have?”

    The more politicians the less the ratio of representatives to constituents which would lead to greater democratic participation.

    “The intellectual standard of the bastards we have now is lower than the most public bars.”

    Yet still higher than the average Kiwiblog poster.

    “The list continues to bring into Parliament, boyfriends, girlfriends , party grovelers and little committee men being rewarded for arse kissing for years.”

    Something that could just as easily happen under FPP, but with far less scrutiny.

    “To think that some clown whose major contribution to getting selected on the list is he has sold chook raffles and taken the local meetings notes for 10 years can sit in our Parliamnt and vote on laws that affect me, …”

    As opposed to some clown who had spent the majority of his career working overseas gambling with currencies for a malevolent financial institution.

    New Zealanders need greater representation, not less. The greater the participation of the average person in the democratic process the better the result for society. Both Labour and National hate MMP and pine for the good old days of the rigidity of the two party dictatorship – where the only seats that mattered were those that threatened to swing each election.

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  17. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Yoza

    What a fucking troll- must be disappointing for you having been a useful idiot ( juries out on the useful but..) and not been invited to the party.

    How in christs name is having more more intellectually diasabled in the House going to improve things – the only place that sort of thing happens and works is a labour caucus.

    And whats an average person to you Yoza? please tell me, I’m sick to fucking death hearing about this average NZer. I know hundreds of NZers from the very wealthy to some on the minimum wage. Not one of those people are average, they are all great people -they work, they bring up their kids well and the majority fucking hate the labour party, even the lowest paid because the labour party tries to lump them in with the useless bastards out there and they hate that

    The average NZer is now a code for brain dead couch sitting useless pricks who only want more for less and believe that they are entitled to this.

    So you can fuck off with your silly little snipes at the PM- he would not be an average NZer even if was worth bugger all because he is intelligent enough to see through the shit that your ilk put forth.

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  18. Reid (16,491 comments) says:

    How in christs name is having more more intellectually diasabled in the House going to improve things – the only place that sort of thing happens and works is a labour caucus.

    Personally Paul I think it’s ethical disablement. You have to be full of yourself to succeed in politics and the more full of yourself you are the more successful you’ll be. We should have mirrors all around the debating chamber so the MPs can look at themselves as they pompously recite stuff that other people wrote for them, which we paid for.

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  19. s.russell (1,642 comments) says:

    I am not 100% happy with the recommendations, though I support or am comfortable with most. Regardless of that, I think they should ALL be implemented. No picking and choosing.

    * A fixed ratio of 60:40 does not have to mean more MPs – the alternative is abolishing the fixed minimum of South Island electorates.

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  20. eszett (2,417 comments) says:

    Reid (12,126) Says:
    November 5th, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    MMP is designed to prevent radical changes, that’s why they installed it in Germany.

    Nonsense!

    MMP was designed to to have the best of both systems, a proportional representation (the system that they had during the weimar republic) and electorate representation. What was installed was the threshold to stop too many small parties entering parliament and making it unworkable. And thus adequately represent the people.

    You can still have radical change under MMP if the majority supports it. What you can’t have (and what you seem to advocate) is radical change without the support of a majority, which is fundamentally undemocratic.

    The reason why some people oppose MMP (or porportional representation) is because they suddenly need a real majority to support the views. Bummer, democracy can be such a nuisance.

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  21. Reid (16,491 comments) says:

    Nonsense!…You can still have radical change under MMP if the majority supports it.

    eszett haven’t you ever made the elementary observation that in politics, just because the majority doesn’t support it, doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do? That’s point one.

    Point two is: no you can’t, so there. I mean seriously, look at history, look at what’s happening in my example of the asset sales, which are so watered down nothing is going to come of it economically, and they still can’t get through. And as I said, these are NOT radical. Yes they are unpopular. But how many people who would not vote for this policy could explain even superficially the economic pros and cons? I would suggest very few.

    So what sort of way is this, to run a country?

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  22. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    ezett

    What totally gripes me is that we need so many of the bastards – the majority do not contribute an iota from one year to the next- just take .

    We are such a small country I think it could be adequately governed by 40 people, put them on a decent wage and hopefully this would get away from the mediocrity we suffer from.

    Proportions could be the same.

    At the moment we are governed by about 8 who have some power, theres opposition of about 5 who are allowed to say anything, so the percentages are right, we just get to put 80 of these bludgers out into the real world, where they could become ‘average new Zealanders

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  23. Yoza (1,879 comments) says:

    “We are such a small country I think it could be adequately governed by 40 people, put them on a decent wage and hopefully this would get away from the mediocrity we suffer from.”

    And, hey presto! Instant perfect governance.

    Seriously, how is a less accountable group going to make decisions that reflect the aspirations of the general population? Moving toward a dictatorship would be a hopelessly regressive step that would only benefit those who had the financial resources to gain access to influence the decision making process. Your ‘average’ New Zealander is fully aware of the implications of such a system and I seriously doubt they would stand for it.

    But, hey, good luck with that little fantasy. Perhaps you should instigate a citizens initiated referendum, I’m sure you would get dozens of signatures.

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  24. Positan (390 comments) says:

    @szett – “You can still have radical change under MMP if the majority supports it.”

    A typical nonsense example of what you espouse was the recent parliamentary vote on whether our Reserve Bank should implement quantitative easing – the printing of money. The vote failed, 60 to 61, thus revealing that 49% of the house – the impractical, non-financial, idiot, leftist and racist sections hadn’t the faintest idea of what they supported, or of the financial detriment to the country their vote could have wrought.

    If 49% of our House of Representatives are so dumb that they cannot understand economic elementals: that paper money is only a medium of exchange, its value determined solely by the asset-backing it represents, then we need a far more selective and rigorous system of selecting our MPs – as well as ensuring that they’re actually capable of representing us.

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  25. Johnboy (16,651 comments) says:

    “What totally gripes me is that we need so many of the bastards – the majority do not contribute an iota from one year to the next- just take .”

    But many of the non-contributors that have a front-bum/turban/slanted eyes/brown complexion/etc. do ask some absolutely intriguing patsy questions to the eight or so that pull the strings PEB surely? :)

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  26. eszett (2,417 comments) says:

    Positan (323) Says:
    November 5th, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    @szett – “You can still have radical change under MMP if the majority supports it.”

    A typical nonsense example of what you espouse was the recent parliamentary vote on whether our Reserve Bank should implement quantitative easing – the printing of money. The vote failed, 60 to 61, thus revealing that 49% of the house – the impractical, non-financial, idiot, leftist and racist sections hadn’t the faintest idea of what they supported, or of the financial detriment to the country their vote could have wrought.

    If 49% of our House of Representatives are so dumb that they cannot understand economic elementals: that paper money is only a medium of exchange, its value determined solely by the asset-backing it represents, then we need a far more selective and rigorous system of selecting our MPs – as well as ensuring that they’re actually capable of representing us.

    Talk about a typical nonsense example and you gladly provide.

    Here you are bagging MMP, but under FPP it would have been possible for a party that only about 35% of the vote to have enough seats in the house to make that decision. Ever gave that idea thought?

    Yes, radical measures would have been a lot easier under such a system. Your glorious example of “quantitative easing”, it would have been a lot easier to bring that through under FPP.

    My point was precisely that to make such a change you would have to have widespread support, much more than under you would under FPP. And thats a good thing

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  27. Sonny Blount (1,783 comments) says:

    5. Should be 66:33. We’ve only ever needed a handful of list MPs added to a parties electorate MPs to achieve proportionality.

    6. This is a travesty. It is a poll tax.
    New Zealand electors should choose the MPs of our country, not Key, Shearer, and their party members via party list rankings. They are welcome to appoint the tax payer paid staff of the MPs who can draft and advocate all they like for policies.

    Lists should be ranked according to the absolute number of votes received by each candidate in the electoral races. Any person that turns down their list position to allow the person below them a position should be disqualified from standing at the next election.

    We have people with the privelages of being a NZ MP today that received votes from a mere few hundred in their electorate.

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  28. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    “I agree – this means that over time Parliament may grow beyond 120 seats due to population growth in the North Island.”

    Why can’t the South Island just get a number of MP’s proportional to their share of the population percentage? I think the idea of continually adjusting the size of parliament so as to maintain 16 South Island electorates is just stupid. If the South Island’s population shrinks over time to 10% of NZ’s population (because of urban drift, growth of Auckland etc) then they should get 12 of 120 seats we shouldn’t increase the size of parliament to 160 seats.

    It’s all the more bizarre because we already use this population adjusted system for the Maori roll. There are currently 7 Maori seats based on the share of the population that is on the separate Maori roll. Agree or disagree with the existence of Maori seats – at least they are proportionate to the Maori population. If the number of Maori voters rises or falls the number of Maori seats changes to ensure each electorate is is equally weighted. Imagine the outcry if the number of Maori seats were fixed and the number of parliamentarians were adjusted to maintain proportionality.

    I’m really curious to hear the views of anybody who considers the Maori seats to be racist or divisive what their opinion is of the fixed allocation of South Island seats…

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