No changes to MMP

May 15th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

From Hansard:

HOLLY WALKER (Green) to the Minister of Justice: Does she intend to bring legislation to the House that will implement the recommendations of the Review in time for the 2014 election?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice) : No.

Holly Walker: Why did she bother to hold the MMP review if she had no intention of implementing its recommendations in the time line intended?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Of course, I did not hold the MMP review; that was a matter that was undertaken by the Electoral Commission. But I can also say that I have made it very clear that we need consensus on these matters for any change, and there is no consensus for any change.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I believe that Dr Holly Walker was correct on this matter when she wrote: “There is a tradition of legislation making changes to the electoral system being passed unanimously in Parliament, and it would be great if all parties were able to put aside their own short-term political interests and build a consensus around the Electoral Commission’s report.” Dr Walker wrote that on 6 November last year in a little-read blog called Frogblog, and I agree with her.

This was entirely predictable.

I agree that significant changes to electoral law should not be made without wide-spread support from affected political parties. A policy Labour shattered with the malignant Electoral Finance Act, but one honoured by National in drawing up replacement legislation. In fact I actually think National compromised too much on that legislation by agreeing to third party spending limits.

I actually think National should have backed changes to both thresholds, namely reducing the party vote one from 5% to 4% and eliminating the one electorate seat threshold. But they have decided not to, and such a significant change should not occur without wide-spread parliamentary support.

I remain very nervous that when there is a change of Government, Labour and Greens will again abandon any commitment to not making significant partisan changes to the Electoral Act and will rewrite it to suit themselves. Time will tell.

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57 Responses to “No changes to MMP”

  1. Pete George (23,436 comments) says:

    It was interesting to see an exchange on twitter yesterday where Graeme Edgeler had to explain to Russel Norman and Clint Smith why the threshold (that the Greens want) reduced representation more than the one seat rule (that they want removed).

    The Greens seemed totally oblivious to this basic fact about MMP. Vested interests seem to take precedence over informed consensus.

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  2. Redbaiter (8,350 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t it be great that IF rather than be lead to fear that the Greens and Labour might make changes to the MMP system if they win government, we could cheer on National for getting off its useless arse and making the changes that are necessary WHILE IT IS IN GOVERNMENT.

    “In fact I actually think National compromised too much on that legislation by agreeing to third party spending limits.”

    Damn right they did. Weak as piss as usual.

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  3. gravedodger (1,546 comments) says:

    Gee wizz they wouldnt do that, would they?

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  4. questlove (242 comments) says:

    smacks of the rankest partisan gerrymandering

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  5. Dennis Horne (2,371 comments) says:

    MMP means representative government not leadership.

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  6. Pete George (23,436 comments) says:

    I think Norman simply didn’t realise that the Greens were supporting less proportionality, he was convinced that the Green way was the best way, which is a common blindness of their’s.

    Norman was as self interested as the other parties, wanting what suited the Greens. He seemed oblivious to it being less proportional.

    Here is full lesson from Graeme Edgeler: Explaining MMP to Russel Norman

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  7. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    So … National sets up a referendum on MMP. National sets up a post-referendum review of MMP by the Electoral Commission. Then, when the Commission hears from several thousand New Zealanders and returns recommendations that National doesn’t like (because it will hurt the party’s chances of winning the 2014 election), National says it will not support what the Commission has said. Then they blame everyone else for a “lack of consensus” on the issue – conveniently overlooking the fact that it is rejecting the results of the public consultation process it set up in the first place.

    Thus, one party introduces changes to electoral law that will serve its interests at the next election = shocking partisanship. But another party blocks changes to electoral law that will hurt its interests at the next election = mildly disappointing.

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  8. tvb (4,326 comments) says:

    Both the Greens and NZF have benefited from the one seat coat tail provision. Now Act and United hang in there through it. I suspect Labour and the Greens will force through changes should they gain a majority in Parliament. National should change them back.

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  9. big bruv (13,686 comments) says:

    Is this the same Holly Walker who will be taking time off to have a child while being an MP?

    The same Holly Walker who is going to be bludging from the tax payer while deciding to start a family?

    Walker should do the decent thing and resign from the house, it is not the job of the tax payer to fund her lifestyle choice.

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  10. hannity (152 comments) says:

    ‘he was convinced that the Green way was the best way, which is a common blindness of their’s.’

    Oh really, as opposed to United future or National, who are open to opposition parties point of veiw.and lack the greens’ common blindness.

    PG you ride a high horse ,named hypocrisy.

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  11. Kea (12,041 comments) says:

    big bruv, They have a name for women who take money for sex, though to be fair, those ladies are generally held in higher regard than Green MP’s by decent people.

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  12. Elaycee (4,356 comments) says:

    I can only imagine the howls of indignation from the Politmedia led chorus, if the National government dared make changes to the farce that is MMP without first trying to get consensus / cross party support. And it is patently obvious that Minister Collins did try to get support but was unable to do so. Indeed, one leader was (according to Minister Collins on the radio this morning) unwilling to even advise his party’s position on any of the points from the EC Report! [No chocolate fish for guessing this was Winston]. Surely, if there was no cross party support, status quo should prevail.

    Collins also responded this morning to Andrew Little’s bleat that he wasn’t consulted about this…. but as Collins pointed out, Little wouldn’t have received Collins’ letter addressed to the leader of the Labour party….

    Unless there’s been another coup! :D

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  13. scrubone (3,091 comments) says:

    Thus, one party introduces changes to electoral law that will serve its interests at the next election = shocking partisanship. But another party blocks changes to electoral law that will hurt its interests at the next election = mildly disappointing.

    Yes.

    It’s one thing to change the law to be how you want it, and quite another to refuse to change a longstanding law because you perceive it suits you.

    But both are wrong, parties should be doing what is in the best interests of the country.

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  14. James Stephenson (2,145 comments) says:

    Now Act and United hang in there through it.

    No, they don’t. ACT and UF are single-seat, single MP, parties. Neither Banks nor Dunne got enough party votes to bring any other MPs in “on their coat tails”. All that winning a seat allows, is that you bring in a number of MPs decided by your proportion of the party vote, if you’re still below 5%.

    Have we got that clear?

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  15. Graeme Edgeler (3,282 comments) says:

    I agree that significant changes to electoral law should not be made without wide-spread support from affected political parties. A policy Labour shattered with the malignant Electoral Finance Act, but one honoured by National in drawing up replacement legislation.

    As nice as this sentiment is, I’m calling bullshit. Your perceived convention simply doesn’t exist.

    Where was the consensus to deny short-term prisoners the vote? Or to deny voters in the Canterbury Region the right to elect their council?

    National and Labour have used electoral law for partisan purposes for years. And on some of the occasions where there has been consensus, it’s purpose has been to protect themselves: like the anti-NZF changes to the broadcasting act, and the increase in the threshold to 5% in the first place.

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  16. Dennis Horne (2,371 comments) says:

    MPs are like opinions, everyone’s got one.

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  17. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    It’s one thing to change the law to be how you want it, and quite another to refuse to change a longstanding law because you perceive it suits you.

    How is this different? A decision NOT to change the law is just as much a decision as to change the law.

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  18. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    @James Stephenson,

    But a large part of the reason the voters of Ohariu/Epsom vote for Dunne/Banks is the potential for them to bring in more list MPs (if their party can get enough votes). Take that away, and would those voters make the same choices?

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  19. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    James S: Well said Sir…saved my typing fingers

    tvb: Remember that old aphorism about being better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt?

    On the one hand, I quite like Collins’ line about consensus being necessary for changes to the Electoral Act – and tinkering with the very system by which the make up of the House is decided are more than tinkering…On the other, as usual, Graeme E makes some very good points…PROFESSOR Andrew Geddis meanwhile – that paragon of academic detachment from the south – makes a few of his own..

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  20. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    sorry chaps…IS more than tinkering…IS…synapses in the grammar lobe not quite firing yet..

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  21. James Stephenson (2,145 comments) says:

    Take that away, and would those voters make the same choices?

    As an Epsom-voting friend said to me: “I don’t get why every electorate isn’t intelligent enough to work out that two ticks for one party isn’t the best use of your votes.”

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  22. Nigel Kearney (971 comments) says:

    Obviously, if you only care about proportionality, there should be no threshold and then the one seat rule is irrelevant. The Green/Labour/NZF faction are bitterly upset that the threshold has not been precisely set at a level that their minor parties can likely achieve and the others side’s minor parties likely cannot. Diddums.

    In any case the major areas of injustice in the electoral system remain off limits, e.g. racially segregated seats, significantly different numbers of voters per electorate, restrictions on freedom of expression, party lists that make it hard for voters to control who represents them. Without fixing that stuff they are just rearranging deck chairs.

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  23. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Of course Judith Collins wouldn’t change it. She’s not interested in honest and decent process.

    Time that cow was put out to pasture – I can’t think of one move she has made that hasn’t been self-serving to herself or her interests. She’s a disgrace to the sex she represents.

    So its more cups of tea and Banksie brain fades. Thank god he didn’t drag any other useless prats with him. I guess National has to get back in and gain supporting MP’s by whatever means possible – god forbid that it should be left up to the people to decide what they want.

    Feel free to thumbs down in your usual smurf manner! :P

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  24. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Oh I forgot to add – Bring back Rodney! :-)

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  25. Dennis Horne (2,371 comments) says:

    @Judith: “She’s a disgrace to the sex she represents.”

    Didn’t know Judith C represented sex… I thought that was your job, Drop-Dead-Gorgeous?

    You’re just sore she knows a murderer when she sees one. Mind you, the evidence is overwhelming…

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  26. James Stephenson (2,145 comments) says:

    Oh I forgot to add – Bring back Rodney! :-)

    On the available evidence of his post-parliament columns – what an excellent idea!

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  27. Ed Snack (1,838 comments) says:

    Judith, from your comments you’re far more deserving of the “cow” epithet than Collins.

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  28. Pete George (23,436 comments) says:

    As an Epsom-voting friend said to me: “I don’t get why every electorate isn’t intelligent enough to work out that two ticks for one party isn’t the best use of your votes.”

    Maori voters seem to understand MMP better than most other electorates.

    Too many people are fixated on last century politics and voting. That’s obvious on blogs as well as in electorates.

    I proposed something last election that was too radical for just about everyone (I knew there were lotto-like odds of it working).

    Looking ahead to next year, if I tried the same thing again and stood on “vote for me and get someone dedicated to putting your electorate first and connecting closely with all of the electorate, no matter which party you voted for” then the electorate would get all the current three MPs back via the list (two are already list) plus a fourth MP that was dedicated to representing them rather than a party.

    But parties, media and voters are ultra conservative and won’t think outside the square.

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  29. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    What a to-o-o-o-o-otally (as my daughter would say) dumb thing to say..”the sex she represents” !! Last I checked, Judith (the real one, not the idiot) represented an electorate in polo country south of Auckland somewhere, for the National Party…

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  30. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Ed Snack (933) Says:
    May 15th, 2013 at 9:05 am

    —————————

    MOO!! I may very well be, but then I’m not running for parliament, expecting to represent the people, or want anyone to vote for me – let alone have aspirations for the top job. ;-)

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  31. Pete George (23,436 comments) says:

    Oh I forgot to add – Bring back Rodney!

    I’d be more interestd in bringing back John Boscawen (and Rodney would probably agree).

    John is a Twitter newbie but yesterday he demonstrated how informed comment can be far more effective than party bullshit.

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  32. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    David Garrett (3,733) Says:
    May 15th, 2013 at 9:08 am
    —————————–

    Well there you go – she’s a disgrace to the horses in her electorate too!

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  33. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    Of course Judith Collins wouldn’t change it. She’s not interested in honest and decent process.

    Her job doesn’t involve it. Parliament’s so-called sovereignty is just an euphemism for putting the Crown’s interests ahead of of the voters. The Crown has a history of of acting dishonourably, why would Collins want to rock the boat by doing the right thing?

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  34. All_on_Red (1,559 comments) says:

    Looks like the horses in Clevedon are smarter than Judith!

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  35. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    Judith Collins is one of the finest parliamentarians in this government…she is totally straight, stands by her word, does what she says she is going to do, and is not a fair weather friend…unlike the silly moo from christchurch – who I am sure has never met the woman – I have first hand experience of all of the above….I sincerely hope she’s the next leader of the Nats…

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  36. All_on_Red (1,559 comments) says:

    Damn right David

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  37. Dennis Horne (2,371 comments) says:

    @UglyTruth. You are by far the most interesting person on this blog. Can you tell me something about yourself, please. Otherwise I’m left guessing what planet I am from.

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  38. Fentex (922 comments) says:

    I remain very nervous that when there is a change of Government, Labour and Greens will again abandon any commitment to not making significant partisan changes to the Electoral Act and will rewrite it to suit themselves

    Probably not a good thing to have a current government that thinks it can bind others over the next 35 years to it’s will on regulations then.

    It doesn’t put them in a good position to protest other governments riding roughshod over what passes for constitutional law in New Zealand.

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  39. gravedodger (1,546 comments) says:

    Poor old little Andy, wailing about a member winning a seat having more value in our system than any one of a bunch of losers, none of whom could win a raffle.

    Understandable I guess when that same little loser couldn’t defeat Jonathon Young in New Plymouth and had to rely on the Labour list to get to the big house.

    MMP is a dog that delivers power to the ignorant, many of whom will sell a vote for a bit of fried chicken.

    Finally a member of the Nats refuses the clamour and moves to increase the power of those who actually build something in this cesspit of welfarism.

    Good on you Judith Collins.

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  40. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    Ugly Truth: While you are confirming your origins, perhaps you could also explain to lesser mortals like me the difference, in practical terms in 2013, between “the Crown”, and “the government”…No, not an academic treatise please, PROFESSOR Geddis (as he prefers to be called) can do that…I am asking what the Practical difference is…

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  41. Dennis Horne (2,371 comments) says:

    Democracy and MMP with the hopeless and spongers out-breeding the independent and educated means we’ll move further and further left until we end up up our own arses and in the shit.

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  42. Psycho Milt (2,405 comments) says:

    But they have decided not to, and such a significant change should not occur without wide-spread parliamentary support.

    Oh, please. As Graeme Edgeler points out above (and in further detail in this post), both National and Labour have a history of imposing significant change without consensus. In this instance, we have a review commission appointed by National to canvass public opinion and objectively recommend changes to MMP, and National is refusing to implement those recommendations because it turns out the recommendations aren’t in National’s interest.

    Probably not a good thing to have a current government that thinks it can bind others over the next 35 years to it’s will on regulations then.

    Yeah, but National had a solid parliamentary consensus for the attempt to bind 35 years’ worth of future governments – oh, wait…

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  43. OneTrack (2,981 comments) says:

    “It doesn’t put them in a good position to protest other governments riding roughshod over what passes for constitutional law in New Zealand.”

    You really think the Greens (and Labour) will listen to any protest National makes, whatever National has done in the past?

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  44. PTM (47 comments) says:

    Fentex @ 9:28 “But they have decided not to, and such a significant change should not occur without wide-spread parliamentary support.”
    Hang on a minute. This singular focus on governments establishing contracts that bind future governments as being an unacceptable imposition seems to ignore the whole heartedly embraced concept of PPPs. If the Gweens can in the future trash a contract relating to the casino deal, then what is to stop them taking similar action on major roading and other infrastructure/energy projects that they don’t agree with?
    Any contractor entering into a ppp agreement on Transmission Gully would need to think carefully about the future security of their investments.

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  45. BeaB (2,106 comments) says:

    No-one is so bitchy and misogynist as a jealous woman.
    NHo wonder so many women avoid public life when the sisterhood are first to put the knife in. Shame on you, Lesser Judith.

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  46. Manolo (13,518 comments) says:

    More disgraceful comments from Judith, the conspiracy theorist and crazy about anything Bain.

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  47. Pete George (23,436 comments) says:

    More from Graeme E – a very good post explaining the current MMP review situation: On consensus

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  48. alwyn (411 comments) says:

    I fail to see what right the Electoral Commission had to make ANY changes to the existing system of MMP.
    We had a referendum in 2011. The main question put to the vote was
    “Should New Zealand keep the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system?”
    Well we voted to keep it, not some bastard offshoot alternative with the changes the Electoral Commission has proposed.
    A few individuals, who comprise the Electoral Commission, and who no one has ever heard of have no right to propose their desired changes to a voting system that the majority of the voters voted to retain.
    I, for one, would never have voted in favour of a question that said
    “Should New Zealand adopt a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system which will be one where a small group of insiders will make changes to the existing rules that will favour left wing parties and penalise right wing parties?”

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  49. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    I fail to see what right the Electoral Commission had to make ANY changes to the existing system of MMP.

    How about, because the law setting that referendum up required them to hold a public consultation exercise into what changes the people would like to see to MMP, and then recommend to the Government what changes to make?

    Too bad the law didn’t also say “so that the Government can completely ignore the report” – which, incidentally cost $1.6 million (on top of about $11 million for the original referendum). Your tax dollars at work.

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  50. wrightingright (143 comments) says:

    Pete George, I totally agree. Have the 1 seat rule actually IMPROVES REPRESENTATION in parliament, any perceived “unfairness” that exists because of it is *not* because of it but because of the high party vote threshold which needs to be abolished.

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  51. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    A bit like the Labour Party ignored the Electoral Commission on the pledge card Professor?

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  52. Jack5 (5,014 comments) says:

    The five per cent threshold was introduced by the German people when the Allies gave them self-government again after World War 2. The idea was to help reduce the fragmentation and general chaos in the 1930s-era German MMP, under which Adolf Hitler rose to power. A smart country doomed to retain MMP would increase the threshold to 8 per cent, or higher.

    MMP is less democratic than the first-past-the-post system was. FPP gave a stronger hand to the biggest faction in Parliament. MMP gives us dictatorship by minorities.

    If New Zealand is stupid enough to keep MMP, then IMHO we should at least ban list MPs from conscience votes. In conscience votes list MPs aren’t accountable to their parties, hence they are accountable to no-one.

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  53. wrightingright (143 comments) says:

    “MMP gives us dictatorship by minorities.”

    Bullshit, just look at the history of MMP in NZ. Every time a minor party has gone into coalition it has been the kiss of death for it! Only the Greens have kept on growing, because they’ve never been in Government yet!

    The bigger party doesn’t really do anything of the minor parties it wouldn’t have already wanted to do anyway under FPP (in fact more likely it would have done MORE of what minor parties wanted under FPP, but instead these people from the minor parties would be operating largely unseen within the bigger parties).

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  54. Shazzadude (526 comments) says:

    Jack5:

    “MMP is less democratic than the first-past-the-post system was. FPP gave a stronger hand to the biggest faction in Parliament. MMP gives us dictatorship by minorities.”

    This is often claimed, but I see very little evidence for this. The only time a smaller party has held significant power was in 1996, when New Zealand First won 13% of the vote (so not that little) and 6 electorate seats (which would’ve made them absolute king-makers under FPP anyway).

    Since then, minor parties have had relatively minor influence on our governments, and this is because MMP gives the major party the ability to neutralise the influence of minor parties by having one on each side (Key’s done this the last two terms with the Maori Party and ACT/United Future, and before this Clark has done this with New Zealand First and United Future to neutralise the Alliance/Greens).

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  55. Jack5 (5,014 comments) says:

    Wrightingwright (2.08) and Shazzadude (2.22) deny MMP boosts smaller parties.

    That’s why we now have coalition governments, is it?

    That’s why NZ First, with its one big spokesman and a trail of silent unknowns, has to be courted by major parties?

    In Wrightingwright’s 2.08 post:

    …instead these people from the minor parties would be operating largely unseen within the bigger parties…

    So what was the point of MMP then, apart from providing material for the chattering classes, and keeping political chat shows full of political science lecturers, present and past?

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  56. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    Ah…perhaps the Professor is giving a lecture…

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  57. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    wrighting: You are largely correct – but only to a point. Three strikes was of course the ACT policy that National supported – so much so that now it is seen to be working exactly as intended, it was apparently their excellent idea all along!

    Much as I appreciate those who credit me with getting 3S into law, I am very aware that if the polls had not shown a huge majority of voters in favour of it, the Nats probably would not have supported it – no matter what arguments we put up. By the same token, if the Nats hadn’t had ACT as an irritant on its right flank, it probably wouldnt have happened either.

    The National caucus of the time was probably more “wet” than “dry” with Simon FIGJAM Power as Justice Minister, Bill “prisons are a failure” English as Deputy PM, and Chester “all they need is love” Borrows carrying some weight – much less of course than he thought his due. Fortunately for us, and for the country, the PM had an open mind and is a man of his word.

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