Cunliffe pledges to change electoral law under urgency with no consensus

June 4th, 2014 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

In Firstline this morning David Cunliffe said that will amend the within 100 days of office, to remove the one seat electorate threshold in .

This is absolutely appalling. A Government that will ram through major electoral law changes under , probably with no select committee hearings, and without consensus, is dangerous. Labour have form for this.

It doesn’t matter that I agree that the one seat threshold should go (and submitted that way). That is not the point.

The Electoral Act is not the ultimate winner take all prize for the Government of the day.

National has bent over backwards to only make major electoral law changes which have broad parliamentary support. They even agreed to keep third party spending limits, to keep Labour and Greens happy.

The last thing we want is a Government promising to unilaterally change the Electoral Act under urgency within 100 days of an election. Any changes should go through a full select committee process at a minimum. The precedent this would set is horrific. It means any future Government can ram through changes to the Electoral Act under urgency after an election to try and help them stay in power.

Also note the timing. Labour will be quite happy to have the Mana Dotcom Alliance use the one seat threshold to help make them the Government. It’s only after the election they’ll turn their noses up at it.

UPDATE: Further reports do not make it clear whether Labour is pledging to pass the law within 100 days, or introduce it within 100 days.

Regardless no party should be declaring they will change such a major aspect of electoral law (it would have probably changed the result of the 2008 election and given Labour a 4th term) unilaterally. It is quite appropriate for parties to state their positions and ask people not vote vote for parties that have a different position. The way to remove the one seat threshold is to place pressure on all the parties (or at least the major ones) to support a change, or risk being punished by the voters. But in the absence of an agreement, a Government should not use a bare majority to tilt the Electoral Act in its favour (and make Parliament less proportional). You do what National did with the Electoral Finance Act – work with other parties on the replacement law, and compromise when necessary.

If Labour can change the Electoral Act unilaterally after the election to try and wipe out smaller parties, then how could you argue against National changing the Electoral Act to move the threshold to say 10% to wipe out the Greens?

You really really do not want to go down the path of a Government making major changes (and this is really major) to the Electoral Act without broad parliamentary support.

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120 Responses to “Cunliffe pledges to change electoral law under urgency with no consensus”

  1. redqueen (567 comments) says:

    The question is: will they be able to pull this off? Harre is now ‘taking MMP back’ for us, apparently. I happen to agree with you, the coat-tail should go, but I am skeptical that Harawaira or Dotcom will ever countenance such a thing.

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  2. infused (656 comments) says:

    “Also note the timing. Labour will be quite happy to have the Mana Dotcom Alliance use the one seat threshold to help make them the Government. It’s only after the election they’ll turn their noses up at it.”

    yeah, I lol’ed when I watched this. He couldn’t even say it with a straight face.

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  3. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    He mentioned that it was so very wrong. Was it also wrong when they used Jim Anderton to make up their government?

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  4. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    I think it is very unlikely Labour would get support from the Greens for ramming electoral law changes through under urgency and without Select Committee hearings. The Greens have always opposed the inappropriate use of urgency and enacting legislation without Select Committee hearings.

    So Cunliffe can say what he likes, but such a proposal would be dead in the water without Green support.

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  5. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    It’s not often, if at all that I uptick Toad, but I just did.

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  6. Andrew M (51 comments) says:

    In theory, such a change would take effect at the next election (3 years following) the only reason I can think of wanting it changed within 100 days of an election is because it’s feared there may be another election well before the 3 years is up. Such confidence.

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  7. redqueen (567 comments) says:

    @Toad

    Green support, NZ First support, Internet-Mana support…

    Bluster comes to mind…

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  8. prosper (168 comments) says:

    In reality if coat tailing is abolished we will have left wing governments forever or until NZ collapses.

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  9. altiora (279 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t it be just wonderful if Key were to gazump Silent T by saying that he’ll change the law this Parliament session. The apoplexy from the Left would be delightful. Of course, the coat tail rule is not the issue with the Internet/Mana merger — it’s just a red herring to distract from the naked corruption involved.

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  10. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    Cunningham, Jim Anderton won his seat during FPP – and then his party won over 5%. As did Peters and also his party. They were not given their seat, they won it and held it (Peters eventually lost his) when others contested. Even Dunne genuinely won Ohariu at first, though it was not always contested. His party reached 5% once.

    There is one case of the left doing an Epsom though. It was 1999, the seat was Coromandel. The Greens were hovering around 5% and to make sure the votes were not wasted …

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  11. Rich Prick (1,705 comments) says:

    Cunliffe is just blowing hot wind. He will need the support of the very parties that would seek to “take back MMP for us”. And I can’t see that forthcoming, in fact it’s a great example of the omnishamble clusterfuck a Labour/Greens/Internet-Mana/NZ First Government would be.

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  12. Nick R (507 comments) says:

    This is such an outrage. After all the weeks and weeks of hard work Judith Collins put into carefully building a consensus around electoral law, Labour are just going to tear it up and – oh, I give up. I can’t even pretend to be serious here.

    Honestly DPF, did you write this post with a straight face?

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  13. wreck1080 (3,924 comments) says:

    This is like a football team changing the rules of the game to suit their players without consulting other teams.

    The only surprise is that labour announced this pre-election.

    Labours slogan is “Full of secrets”. Kind of like rotoruas but in a bad way.

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  14. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    Remind me again, how many laws did National change under the guise of urgency when they entered office?

    What I can’t work out is why DPF is “outraged”. This would disadvantage both major parties equally. Why is The Blue Brigade more turning red in the face?

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  15. redqueen (567 comments) says:

    To be honest, I might want to start stockpiling popcorn now, just in case these silly buggers actually get in. However, there’s a double motivation: I’ll get the fun of watching these idiots cause chaos (while happily yelling ‘I bloody told you so!’ at the screen) and I won’t be able to probably afford (or even be able to purchase) popcorn once these loonies are in power.

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  16. Nigel Kearney (1,019 comments) says:

    I agree with Andrew. Following the normal process, this kind of change would take 8-9 months. Someone needs to ask Cunliffe whether urgency is needed because he doesn’t expect a government led by him to be able to hold together a majority for that length of time.

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  17. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    Following the normal process, this kind of change would take 8-9 months

    Shedazzle – someone forgot to tell JK! The fact that Funny Cunny has specifically said “within 100 days” should give you some clues. He’s taking the piss out of JK for doing the same thing!

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  18. EAD (1,129 comments) says:

    Hey DPF, remember this from 2011?

    “A Labour MP and a National Party-aligned blogger have joined forces to object to the Government’s frequent use of urgency to push legislation through Parliament.

    Labour MP Grant Robertson released figures on the use of urgency since 1999, which showed that in its first two years National pushed 17 laws through without allowing public submissions – compared to the four or five each term when Labour was in government.

    Mr Robertson and Kiwiblog blogger David Farrar posted the figures on their blogs this week and called for changes to make it harder for a government to skip select committee stages”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10719268

    Vote Conservative to get rid of this self serving political class, their media toadies and their illusion of choice politics.

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  19. altiora (279 comments) says:

    itstricky: did you actually read the post? or did you start firing off Labour propaganda without thinking? There is a convention, and a fundamental one given we don’t have a supreme law, that electoral legislation is amended by cross party consensus only.

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  20. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    What’s the problem here? Labour announce a policy ahead of the election. If elected, they will have a mandate to implement it. Whether the parliamentary situation will allow it is another question.

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  21. tvb (4,432 comments) says:

    I assume labour will campaign full strength to stop this happening in the TTT seat.

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  22. minus (201 comments) says:

    Like altora says –

    It would be great if John Key could say to Cunliffe, “If that is what you want, let’s do it now”, but then like other comments Cunliffe has made this one may not last more than three days either.
    Pity.

    [ Cunliffe refuses to comment on Mana / Internet.
    In Firstline this morning David Cunliffe said that Labour will amend the Electoral Act within 100 days of office, to remove the one seat electorate threshold in MMP.
    Is that not his comment on Mana / Internet? ]

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  23. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    Altiora – you mean non-thinking like it’s just a red herring to distract from the naked corruption involved.? Naked corruption? I wonder how much time you spend dreaming these phrases up.

    I’m not so much interested in the technical details, this is politics – I’m interested in DPFs outrage that someone should mention “urgency in 100 days”. Cunliffe has fired a shot over Key’s bow.

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  24. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    SPC (5,105 comments) says:

    Cunningham, Jim Anderton won his seat during FPP – and then his party won over 5%

    He never made it close to 5% when he was in charge of the Progressives:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Anderton's_Progressive_Party

    I’m sorry but you’d have to be pretty niave to believe that he (and Labour) wasn’t rorting the system. The guy was basically a Labour MP in his own party to give them an extea seat or 2.

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  25. Warren Murray (311 comments) says:

    I think you are wring DF, or being mischievous. He said that in the first hundred days he would introduce legislation. That doesn’t mean what you say. I thought that given how much much criticism labour has been subject to for appearing to condone the Internet – Mana alliance, some credit is due that Labour is taking a principled stand.

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  26. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    Vote Conservative to get rid of this… … … …

    Ah, must be election year. And so true colours are shown.

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  27. Than (475 comments) says:

    He will need the support of the very parties that would seek to “take back MMP for us”.

    Either that or support from National. Which isn’t completely impossible – electoral law isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a partisan issue, and the coat-tails provision has helped both sides about equally over different elections. I doubt they’d support it under urgency though.

    But as people have said already, there is no need to push this through under urgency, this is pointless bluster. I suspect Cunliffe has detected how badly the IP-Mana rort is going down with the public and this is just his attempt to distance Labour from it. But without ruling out IP-Mana support to form a government, naturally.

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  28. david (2,557 comments) says:

    If Cunnliffe inextricably linked his pledge to a commitment to calling a snap election on day 101, he might stand a chance. Otherwise it is hot air blown in the certain knowledge that it will never happen for the simple reason that his (absolutely necessary) coalition partners would not support it.

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  29. JamesBlake (62 comments) says:

    Lets see, Labour have consistantly said they don’t like coat tailing..check.
    They have had senior MP’s come out critically of the IMP deal … check.
    They are signaling early that changing the coat tail rule will be a priority and giving voters the claer ability to show their support in ana election … check.
    Oh and by the way there is already a labour bill in to do this and it has been drawn. All National has to di is vote for it. I don’t think it will upset Labor at all if the law was changed before the election.
    Tell me again what the issue is here? Oh thats right you don’t want them to use urgency (which National has set records for doing) and the already completed review of MMP to make this sort of decision. Yea far better to waist more money on another review of the system.

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  30. altiora (279 comments) says:

    itstricky you are an idiot. This mere “technical detail” as you call it has been recognised as one of the few quasi-constitutional protections we have. Read Toad’s posting about the Green’s view of Silent T’s announcement. It should have nothing to do with party politics for good reason.

    Yep: naked corruption alright. One man wanting to escape extradition uses money to concoct a party occupied by people with whom he has no affinity with otherwise, except that they have agreed to veto his extradition in return for cash. Sounds like corruption to me.

    What’s your view from Bowen House like btw?

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  31. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Cunliffe quoted on Stuff:
    “And I’ll go further. In the first 100 days of a government that I lead, we will introduce government legislation to remove coat-tailing by changing the Electoral Act.”
    A little different from DPF’s panic-stricken version. Perhaps he didn’t hear Cunliffe clearly on Firstline.

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  32. prosper (168 comments) says:

    The only thing that matters is the economy and apart from a short period under Lange the left screws the economy making us all worse off. This other stuff is window dressing.

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  33. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    James I guess when you’re JK faced with this sort of thing you can do two things – come out in support of it or get all red faced about some technicalities and try to push it out of public view. I wonder if he will call DCs bluff. Like I said – shot over bow. The 100 day thing is hillarious – he’s absolutely taking the mickey.

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  34. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    The purpose of the cross party consensus is to preserve come consistency to the rules of the democratic process.

    Similarly, the coat tailing exists because of the impact of one party reaching either 4.99 or 5% threshold would otherwise have on the electoral outcome. However this has been abused to create one seat clients of major parties, that have no prospect of reaching 5%.

    The range of alternatives

    1. reserve coat-tailing for parties that have in the past reached 5% of the vote. To keep it relevant, 5% in one of the past 2 elections. This requires new parties to be credible.

    2. have progressive representation.

    a 2% to get one seat (prevention of too many small parties)
    b 3% to get 2 seats
    d 4% to get 3 seats
    e 5% c6 seats/equal representation.

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  35. jp_1983 (213 comments) says:

    And just wait for the hidden amendment..

    General. 6.2 The term of Parliament in New Zealand is one thousand years from the date fixed for the return of the writs issued for the previous general election…

    ————————————
    To a thousand year Aotearoa Reich.
    Comrades

    They could do this if they wanted too, Parliament is soverign and can do as they please.

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  36. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    Cunliffe is quioted on Stuff:

    Cunliffe said he challenged prime minister John Key to sign up to Labour’s bill, but the party would move to change the Electoral Act within its first 100 days in government, regardless.

    “We’re saying a very principled and consistent thing,” he told Firstline this morning.

    “We think it’s wrong, no matter who does it.

    “That’s why we oppose it, that’s why we have a bill before Parliament – Iain Lees-Galloway’s member’s bill – which would remove it.

    “And I challenge the prime minister to sign up to that bill, do the right thing by New Zealand people and get rid of this coat-tailing provision.

    “And I’ll go further. In the first 100 days of a government that I lead, we will introduce government legislation to remove coat-tailing by changing the Electoral Act.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10117190/Labour-commits-to-canning-coat-tailing

    That doesn’t rule out proper process but it leaves important questions unanswered.

    I think the immediate point of interest is that Cunliffe is even more staunchly speaking against what Internet-MANA are doing with particular relevance to Te Tai Tokerau. Labour are being blasted from the left for not accommodating Harawira to enaable coat tailing “for the good of the left”.

    Labour are making it clear the want to go it alone this election. That’s both interesting and risky.

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  37. JamesBlake (62 comments) says:

    Agree itstricky. I wonder when DPF is going to conceed and correct himself about the urgency thing.

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  38. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    Idiot, Bowen house, corruption?

    One – you seem to think you have the majority on calling other people whatever you like, whenever you like. Don’t kniw who bought you up but that’s just rude in my book.
    Two – I am absolutely stoked you would think I was anyone of significance.
    Three – Corruption? Well your man DC is helping get rid of it. Give him a round of applause.

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  39. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    Cunningham, I don’t know how young you are. But Anderton formed New Labour that became the founding part of the Alliance. Check elections like 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999 – google New Zealand elections on Wikipedia.

    I met Anderton when protesting at parliament back in 1988 (I was chaperoning a teen on the protest and advised them how to get into parliament by the door once used for messengers to Ministers who were once based there), he was a Labour MP but quite friendly to those dissenting against his own party’s policies.

    But first I met the AB full-back (then a police officer in those amateur days) and we discussed in parliament Wellington winning the shield that weekend. Anderton diffused the stand off by meeting with us.

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  40. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    jp_1983
    I believe some provisions of electoral law are entrenched, and cannot be changed without a 75% (?) majority in Parliament. However, the entrenching clauses are not themselves entrenched, so a determined government could, in theory, override consensus.

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  41. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    mikenmild

    A self serving government might use parliament to kill a standing court case against the PM. Anything is possible when the only priority is being in power.

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  42. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    What court case?

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  43. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    The same Labour apologists that defended passing the EFA under urgency have complained about National using urgency over the last 6 years – they will be able to defend urgency again if Labour win. The really sad thing is these muppets are too stupid to notice they just play musical chairs defending or attacking the same thing depending on who’s doing it.

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  44. altiora (279 comments) says:

    Thought you might be one of those labour party minions hired to spend all day posting propaganda.

    Hardly getting rid of it: under Silent T’s proposal, it won’t be until 2017 when it takes effect, and in the meantime he won’t rule out obtaining Internet-Mana’s support if they make it into Parliament. As I say, the coat tail rule isn’t the problem. A better solution would be to outlaw donations from those who aren’t citizens.

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  45. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    mikenmild

    Of course you wouldn’t remember – Clark – NZ’s first retrospectively validated PM. Validations passed under urgency (outside of the budget cycle as has always been the convention) killed the Darnton V Clark case.

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  46. jp_1983 (213 comments) says:

    @mikenmild,
    You could be right re: the 75% thing,

    However it only takes 51% to remove the clause that says you need 75%..

    Bit of a claytons thing really.

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  47. Grendel (1,002 comments) says:

    this “coat tailing” thing has only become a problem once the left stopped getting the full benefit of it. i did a comment with all the details on WO the other night, i will find it and post it. hell i just noticed that it got comment of the day, made it easier to find :)

    also regarding seat “stitchups”, why is this an issue now? it was done at the first election when National did not compete against prebble in wgtn central, it was done in 1999 by the alliance when bunkle, a couple weeks before the election pulled out of wgtn central and told her supporters to vote for marion hobbs (after spending weeks whining about the deal national was supposedly doing for central), labour have never stood against Jim in wigram etc.

    in fact the biggest rort of all has to be wigram. Anderton was a labour MP in all but name, he went to their caucus meetings, used their resources and even endorsed one of them as his successor, but becuase he was a different party, they got the extra seat and resources.

    btw this was all not considered an issue when MMP started, it was talked about by the pointy heads that parties could agree to not compete in certain areas to further get support for their ‘bloc’. this only became a bad thing when the left decided they were doing worse out of it than national.

    and there is nothing to stop supporters in that electorate deciding not to vote the way their bloc wants, but epsom voters do becuase they understand the numbers game in politics.

    the best way to fix this of course would have been to use STV for the electorate seat vote, but then all the MMP fanatics decided it was too hard, despite not really knowing how MMP works (or just choosing to ignore how it actually works when they dont get their way).

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  48. FeralScrote (220 comments) says:

    For Labour, desperate times call for desperate measures,it is just another example of how they are unfit to govern.

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  49. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Oh, we haven’t had anyone go one about the infamous pledge card for a while.

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  50. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    Grendal, not true, Labour always contested Sydenham/Wigram. He won the seat off Labour when he switched to another party and he kept it and this was in FPP.

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  51. Grendel (1,002 comments) says:

    here it is – turns out i am bit wrong on the 1999 thing, as NZ first was not in govt, however by NZ first beign the size they are, they can block out the greens demanding anything to get the 61 seats needed as labour and alliance only had 59. had NZ first only gotten 1 seat, its hard to say where the extra 4 seats would have gone, it may have helped labour, and it may have given the greens the kingmaker role.
    >>
    Sorry but “coat tailing” only became a bad thing when the left stopped getting the advantage from it. It was very clear when MMP came in that it was a valid way for a party to get into parliament.

    I remember watching the first MMP election (also my first election at all), and the experts reminding us that getting a seat got you all your party vote % of seats. It was not good or bad, it just was. The theory I vaguely recall them saying was that if a party was able to generate enough support in one area to win a seat, it could get all of its support from across the country. But if you were just spread across the country, you needed to get more. This enabled small single issue parties located primarily in one area to get more benefit focused to one area, rather than trying to fight all over the country. This was back when everyone thought we would get heaps of parties.

    To me it’s the same as the overhang from getting too many electorates. The rules state that you are supposed to get as many seats as your party vote, but if you win more electorates than you were allowed seats, you still get the number of electorates. Other than actually winning electorates, I don’t see the difference.

    But lets look at the facts:

    1996 – No one gets an electorate and less than 1% and gets more than 1 seat (Dunne wins his seat but not enough party vote for a 2nd seat).

    1999 – NZ first gets 4.26% and gets 4 extra seats due to winston winning tauranga. The greens were looking like needing to do the same with Coromandel, but specials put them over the line (the media had no issue with the ‘coattailing’ when the greens might have needed it). With NZ First, Labour is able to keep the Greens out of govt. If NZ First did not get the extra 4 seats, its possible the Greens would have been in govt to give Labour the majority.

    2002 – Jim Anderton gets a 2nd seat with his 1.7%. Labour do not need the number to have a majority due to NZ First, but Jim goes along anyway and gets baubles.

    2005 – United Future gets 2 extra people due with 2.67% of the vote, giving Labour 61 seats out of 121, with Labour, NZ First, Jim (on his own) and UF, again being able to keep the Greens out of govt. Act gets a 2nd seat with 1.51%.

    2008 – Act gets 4 extra seats due to 3.65% of the vote. This gives National 69 seats with UF, ACT and the Maori party, but is able to stop any one party holding balance of power due to the numbers. This is the first time the media (and lefty commentators) have a major issue with coat tailing (or indeed the first time I recall seeing it ever mentioned negatively) and the first time National has used it to their advantage.

    Part of the whining is because NZ First got 4% but did not win an electorate, so in the left’s mind, this is not a bad thing because Winston would have kept Helen in (possibly).

    2011 – no one gets extra seats, coat tailing is derided as evil and only for National to win elections (despite not needing it).

    So in 6 elections its been used by 5 parties, and 3 times it was to Labours benefit and once to Nationals. But with the left’s rewrite of history this is “Nationals dirty tricks as usual”, rather than just a feature of MMP that was well known at the start and has been used by both sides (but more by the lot that hates it now).
    >>

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  52. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    SPC I’m wasn’t talking about New Labour, I was talking about the Progressives under Clark’s government. You can’t really say that wasn’t an arrangement in the similiar fashion to ACT/National.

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  53. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    Just ditch MMP and itroduce another system like STV or even that old dog FPP. Problem solved.

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  54. Grendel (1,002 comments) says:

    SPC, national always contest Epsom, but the left complain about the ‘deal’ there. do you think the number counters did not realise that jim was an extra vote their way, and leave him to it?

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  55. JamesBlake (62 comments) says:

    @Burt
    Comment “The same Labour apologists that defended passing the EFA under urgency have complained about National using urgency over the last 6 years – they will be able to defend urgency again if Labour win. The really sad thing is these muppets are too stupid to notice they just play musical chairs defending or attacking the same thing depending on who’s doing it.”

    Pretty sure this is DBF’s blog where he is the one who start going on about Labor using urgency (when they have in fact not said that they will). So yea it would appear it is in fact the right who have chosen to forget that they are the record setters for use of urgency and started to cry about an imagined future use of it. Some of us are mearly pointing this out.

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  56. Ross Miller (1,704 comments) says:

    This is nothing more than an increasingly desperate Cunliffe looking for a headline in the face of a Labour Party at odds with itself over him refusing to rule out a deal with crim.com and Hone. Anything to divert attention from that.

    For christsakes David, grow some balls. Rule out any sort of an alliance with at bunch that almost make the Greens look respectable. Do what is right rather than prostitute yourself to the highest bidder. Continue on your current path and I suspect that the keys to the LTD that go with being the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition will end up in the hands of Wussel and that strange Sheila from down south post the election.

    Happy daze.

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  57. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    Thought you might be one of those labour party minions hired to spend all day posting propaganda

    If that’s an apology I will take it, thanks. Never judge a book by it’s cover (nor assume that the colour of the cover is always red)

    Hardly getting rid of it: under Silent T’s proposal, it won’t be until 2017…

    But he has still said it. And now we see what Key will say. DPF seems to give a hint, which can only come off as “not on your Nelly will we change that” which looks a bit wonky given the crying about IPM. And then we see what IPM have to say WRT the coming election and partnering with Labour. At the very least this makes it a lot more interesting.

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  58. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    No matter what voting system you have parties and politicians and activists will look at ways to manipulate it to get an advantage when it suits them.

    None of this current crap would happen if the threshold was dropped so coat tailing becomes irrelevant.

    Then votes get seats proportionally.

    But the bigger parties keep trying to shut out small and new parties to protect their patch, and end up distorting things under their own stupid rules.

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  59. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    “For christsakes David, grow some balls. Rule out any sort of an alliance with at bunch that almost make the Greens look respectable.”

    It appears that indirectly out of one side of his mouth he’s implying that that’s what he means.

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  60. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    The problem is that the centre-right is ambiguously “benefiting” from having coat tail List MPs swept into Parliament as a result of what are otherwise microparties having resort to top-ups merely because those microparties have bolthole constituencies. And Labour itself has benefited from it in the past- witness Jim Anderton and the Progressive Coalition. Or is it? What happens if a newcomer microparty List MP suddenly decides that she or he wants to break away from their party of origin and then ends up voting alongside an opposing political party? And what if that occurs in an otherwise hung parliament? It hasn’t happened yet, but look at Victoria’s dilemma across the Tasman due to the fanatical fundamentalist Independent state MP Geoff Shaw.

    Granted, that’s a Preferential Voting morass, but it could still happen to National under the current coat tail situation, or Labour. Better to get rid of it altogether.

    And basically, it’s the centre-right’s fault that it can’t come up with a viable larger satellite coalition partner for National. If ACT hadn’t committed public disembowelling in 2008-2011 and thereafter, it might not be in this situation.

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  61. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    3 News has finally posted coverage of this including video:
    http://www.3news.co.nz/Scrap-coat-tail-provision—Cunliffe/tabid/1607/articleID/347000/Default.aspx

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  62. ross411 (842 comments) says:

    itstricky (1,351 comments) says:
    June 4th, 2014 at 9:23 am
    The 100 day thing is hillarious – he’s absolutely taking the mickey.

    Yes, you can say he is, but when you’re the only one saying it and you’re not providing any substantiation, then you’re living in a fantasy world. itstricky-land, where all the realities are awkward fabrications. Population 1.

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  63. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    It’s OK. We don’t have a problem because people of principle will not accept donations over $5,000 toward a party because that is corrupt. Doh !

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  64. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    Cunningham, Grendal, yes I can say there was a/some difference because Anderton had historically won this seat against Labour in 1990 1993 and 1996, when they were fierce rivals. The various ACT MP’s never won Epsom in a contest and never would have.

    PS Re 1999, it was Greens who gave confidence and supply to the Labour-alliance government not NZ First (who were under 5% and nearly lost Tauranga). Labour helped them over the line in Coromandel just in case they failed to get 5%. This was the left wing doing an Epsom. A seat Greens would not have won otherwise.

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  65. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Who gives a toss what this “Tojo” Cunliffe leech thinks? He is on borrowed time, not even being welcome in the rainbow rectum reamers’ room . . . doubt if he will make it through to election day.

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  66. chris (647 comments) says:

    @Grendel

    Great analysis. I think a lot of the issue with the 2008 election was that ACT got less % than NZ First, but got seats when NZ First didn’t, which didn’t seem quite fair. As a result, people started thinking about the coat tailing provision a lot more.

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  67. Scott (1,805 comments) says:

    On a broader front I would say this is what we can expect from progressive parties that do not recognise anything beside their own desire to become government and exercise political power.

    Of course there should be a consensus on electoral reform.

    However Labour has form in pushing through major changes. In fact on the social front major changes being pushed through by list MPs on policies that were not part of their party’s electoral manifesto are now the norm. When did the electorate get to vote on the anti-smacking bill, the prostitution reform bill, civil unions or gay marriage?

    This process of sneaking through major progressive legislation has now become so accepted by the media that list MP Maryanne Street has put her euthanasia legislation on the backburner till after the election. Obviously labour don’t want to take such a controversial piece of legislation into the general election. They will sneak it in afterwards. And apparently Parliament and the electorate and the media think that’s all okay?

    At least National said prior to the last election if you vote for us we are going to sell state assets. Thumbs up for them for doing the decent and honourable and democratic thing.

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  68. altiora (279 comments) says:

    Silent T and the Greens both ruling out working with Internet-Mana would very quickly nip it in the bud, and more successfully than enacting legislation that takes effect in 2017.

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  69. chris (647 comments) says:

    As far as the thresholds are concerned, maybe making it that if you get enough % for 2 seats is the answer (rather than 5% of the overall result). Then the coat tailing thing becomes irrelevant. Of course, a better answer is to replace MMP with STV or something else :)

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  70. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    Oh how funny it will be when Mr Key takes the hint from Mr Cunliffe and puts the legislation through before the election.

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  71. georgebolwing (870 comments) says:

    SPC is right: the real problem here is the 5% threshold, not the coat-tail provision.

    The idea of the threshold is to stop a proliferation of small parties (although I am not sure why that is a problem, but anyway).

    With the mixed-member system, it is possible for a party to get electorate seats but less than the threshold and the current law decided that in this case, the threshold give way.

    The alternative would be to keep the threshold and say that if a party gets electorate seats but less than 5%, then the threshold would stand and the party would not get any additional seats via the list process.

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  72. NoCash (258 comments) says:

    Does Silent T really believe that the voting public would buy this grandstanding of the Dotcom/Mana rot? We all know that he will not have the support to do that given that he would need Dotcom, Mana, and Winston First to form a govt.

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  73. Keeping Stock (10,342 comments) says:

    I’ve also just blogged on this It would appear that Labour has learned nothing from its 2007 Electoral Finance Bill debacle, if it believes that it can just ram through a significant change to the Electoral Act.

    And of course, the ultimate irony would be if Labour used a coalition including coat-tailers to outlaw coat-tailing; hypocrisy much?

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz/2014/06/has-labour-learned-nothing-from.html

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  74. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Keeping Stock has made the same mistake as DPF. There was nothing in the announcement about putting this change through under urgency.

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  75. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    If you are reading this, go to the sixth post (by Andrew M) and give it a thumbs up. It was too easy to miss but is the key point in this whole discussion.

    Once again Cunliffe shoots from the hip, straight through the foot in his mouth with his head up his arse.

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  76. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    Labour is being consistent with the Iain Lees-Galloway bill that ends coat-tailing (polls indicate the public support this move, and National ACT and United resistance is backed by only a small minority).

    However the Electoral Commission review suggested this be done when lowering the threshold from 5 to 4%.

    Until the Internet Mana hook up, this seemed a policy both advantageous and popular.

    Now there is confusion between advantageous and popular. They may only win with coat-tailing support and thus … .

    So for the same reasons as National, reliance on ACT and United for their majority, maybe the status quo will survive …

    This is one issue on which National and Labour can provide a consensus and get legislation passed, it only requires the opposition party of the two to back legislation from the party in government to ensure legislation – so National should join Labour in having a policy to end coat-tailing for this years election so they have a mandate (there is already widespread popular support).

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  77. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    “Once again Cunliffe shoots from the hip, straight through the foot in his mouth with his head up his arse.”

    There seems to be almost stunned silence on this at The Standard, although a few have eventually commented on it. Very ironically just above this mickysavage aka Greg Preskand has commented on a different issue:

    The policy making process for Labour is somewhat complex and requires buy in not only by the caucus but by the policy council of the party. Cunliffe does not have the ability to change policy on the hoof …

    I wonder what input the policy council has had on the coat tail legislation announcement.

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  78. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Labour’s plan would take MMP a step closer to Germany’s earlier proportional voting system, under which the Nazis rose to power.

    The German people added electorates after World War 2, and the 5 per cent threshold, with the aim of preventing the parliamentary chaos of the 1920s and 1930s under which the world’s best educated country fell to totalitarianism.

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  79. william blake (109 comments) says:

    One assumption here is that Labour will step aside in te tai tokerau, like National in Epsom (and east coast bays for the conservatives) but Harawira has held ttt since 2005. So wtf?

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  80. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    Pete, ending coat-tailing was/is Labour Party policy. The only issue up for play was how they operated in this years election given they have this policy to apply afterwards.

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  81. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    william, I agree, Harawira has won the seat in fierce contests. That said the margin is not large and Davis is a good candidate. But one of more use campaigning for the party vote from Maori nationwide than just up north – given Labour need to get more than 30% to win.

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  82. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    Cunliffe has formalised his Firstline announcement:

    Let’s end coat-tailing together – Labour

    Labour is challenging the National-led government to support its Members’ Bill abolishing coat-tailing.

    “Labour has consistently opposed MMP’s coat-tailing provision which means a party that gets just one seat but which polls under 5 per cent can bring other list MPs into Parliament,’’ says Labour Leader David Cunliffe.

    “The Electoral Commission recommended the removal of this rule in 2012. Labour made a submission to this effect.

    “We also have a Members’ Bill drawn from the ballot which would remove the coat-tailing provision and lower the party vote threshold from 5 per cent to 4 per cent.

    “National refused to act on the Commission’s recommendations.

    “The law as it stands is based on National’s rules and National must be accountable for them. It is no coincidence that these rules facilitate deals with that party’s potential coalition partners.

    “Labour is challenging John Key’s government to support Iain Lees-Galloway’s Members’ Bill removing this provision.

    “The incoming Labour-led government under my leadership would, within our first 100 days in office, initiate moves to repeal this part of the Electoral Act.

    “National has supported a widely discredited electoral rule which skews the democratic process to its own political ends. The New Zealand public can see through that,’’ said David Cunliffe.

    “”The law as it stands is based on National’s rules” seems an absurd claim. In otherwords, bull.

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  83. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    @SPC

    Harawira has won the seat in fierce contests. That said the margin is not large and Davis is a good candidate.

    And what is not yet known is how the electorate will react to the MANA-Internet Party-Dotcom deal. Harawira could gain gain through it, and he could just as easily lose support.

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  84. OneTrack (3,117 comments) says:

    The totalitarian is still strong in Labour. Some things don’t change.

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  85. Fentex (986 comments) says:

    This is absolutely appalling. A Government that will ram through major electoral law changes under urgency, probably with no select committee hearings, and without consensus, is dangerous. Labour have form for this.

    It doesn’t matter that I agree that the one seat threshold should go (and submitted that way). That is not the point.

    I agree with both these sentiments, however I also happen to note no explicit claim urgency would be used and that National has made considerable unnecessary use of urgency.

    I’d think a person appalled at government abusing their position to utilise urgency strengthens their credibility by consistently opposing it least it be believed they pick and choose what to complain about for callow and tactical advantages.

    I too submitted on the electoral reform bill as well, asking the one seat requirement be tossed and the barrier of 5% removed (if there’s 120 seats it ought require 100/120 = 0.83% to win each seat) and have the games caused by seeking coat-tails done away with.

    Though I think I might prefer STV to MMP if we were to seriously consider substantial change.

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  86. JamesBlake (62 comments) says:

    Um Pete I think it is fair to say that what was meant is that the law only still stands because National opposes change at this time. So it is fair to say that they have to wear the consiquences of other parties using the rules that they could easily change by supporting Labours bill.

    No Bull in that.

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  87. simonway (387 comments) says:

    David Farrar continues to perpetuate the lie that the explicit disfranchisement of thousands of people, as National have done during the current government, is not a major change to electoral law. Even if you think it was good policy (which he does), it is definitely a major change and there was definitely not a bipartisan consensus on it.

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  88. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    burt: What was Darnton v, Clark?? I might have been out of the country at the time…

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  89. simonway (387 comments) says:

    Also, the point about “the timing” is bizarre. Labour aren’t in government right now; they can’t change the law. Of course their promises are all for things they’ll do after the election, because they can’t do anything before the election.

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  90. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    David Garrett

    After the 2005 election Bernard Darnton took a civil case against Clark for misuse of public funds. Clearly not liking the idea of being accountable the Clark administration validated 14 years of what had been deemed “illegal” election spending and in doing so killed off the Darnton V Clark case. The validation were passed under urgency outside of the budget cycle. Unprecedented ???

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  91. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    JamesBlake – that may be what Cunliffe meant but it isn’t what he said.

    The current rules were put in place in 1993 after a binding referendum supported a change to MMP. They are not National’s rules.

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  92. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    “Of course their promises are all for things they’ll do after the election, because they can’t do anything before the election.

    “The incoming Labour-led government … would, within our first 100 days in office, initiate moves to repeal this part of the Electoral Act”

    Cunliffe must have obtained authority to speak on behalf of all potential coalition partners, otherwise he can’t just do it after the election either. Unless he thinks Labour will get enough votes to rule alone.

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  93. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    burt: shit, is that right?? That’s absolutely outrageous… I always hated the She Beast…

    Although I think I painted a big target on my back by doing so, I have never regretted not standing up in the House for the tart when she got her UN job

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  94. JamesBlake (62 comments) says:

    But they are Nationals rules because at any stage they could change them. Just because you want to spin what he said to suit yourself doesn’t change the fact that for National to cry about what is happening in TTT is stupid as they could stop it at any stage.

    The amusing thing is if Labour were to get into parliment with the help of what is happening in TTT it may just prompt National to support this change and achieve the consensus you are so shrilly saying Labor are not trying to achieve.

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  95. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    “But they are Nationals rules because at any stage they could change them.”

    No they couldn’t. They would need a majority vote to change them.

    You’re the one trying to interpret what Cunliffe said, I’ve just quoted him and associated facts.

    You’re also making incorrect assumptions (shrily) aboaut me. I don’t agree with the Electoral Commission recommendations – I think 4% is still far too high for the threshold – but I think all parties should have agreed to accept the recommendations.

    The amusing thing is that Labour are clearly disagreeing with TTT being used to coat tail, so they are arguing against a potential means of being able to lead the next government.

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  96. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    I might take Cunliffe more seriously if he was also committing to scrap the Maori seats at the same time as getting rid of coat tailing.
    After all they are the evil twin of coat tailing under MMP, as they are much more likely to distort proportionality as overhang can easily be created. Coat tailing increases proportionality.

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  97. JamesBlake (62 comments) says:

    There is a bill ready to go from labour that if they were to vote for it would change the rules. Between the two parties there would be a majority and hence change. It is completely on National that it is not happening. To say anything different is to ignore reality. Sort of similar to Judith Collins saying the reason they didn’t make the change is they couldn’t get consensus when they were the ones preventing the consensus in the first place.

    I made no assumption about your position on the threshold or coat tailing. It has been very clear where you stand. By suiting you I am more pointing out that you would rather put the boot into DC than actualy assess what was said. I agree that 4% is still too high. Good luck getting major parties to change that because it wouldn’t suit either of them. Not to sure what you find shril about what I have said.

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  98. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    There’s a very good reason for the 5% threshold…we have the potential for a great unwieldy unstable left government now; if the threshold was much below 4% it would be much much worse…potentially like Italy, with an election every six months…

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  99. JamesBlake (62 comments) says:

    Or like Norway where they have a low threshold and stable government. Or maybe it would be like NZ where we actually are. Next you be going along the lines of we will end up in Nazi Germany.

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  100. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    if the threshold was much below 4% it would be much much worse…

    There’s obviously no proof of that in New Zealand.

    I think more smaller parties could help stability by giving major parties choices, as National has operated with being able to make up the numbers with UF+ACT or Maori.

    If there were half a dozen small parties in a coalition that could increase voting combinations.

    It could also potentially be more unstable and tail-wag-dog with fewer parties. If there was just the +5% parties, National, Labour, Greens and NZ First that would give NZ First in particular much more leverage. I’d rather National or Labour had more democratic options.

    In practice most of the time under MMP power has been approximately proportional to seats, as it should be.

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  101. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    All this blather about the overhang…. How bad it is … yes it’s very bad – it reflects the will of the voters and isn’t in the best interest of the major parties.

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  102. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    James: what is the threshold in Norway? Do they have MMP or some other proportional system?

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  103. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    TOAD has 30 upticks!! My God, this is serious stuff!!

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  104. simonway (387 comments) says:

    Pete George:

    Cunliffe must have obtained authority to speak on behalf of all potential coalition partners, otherwise he can’t just do it after the election either.

    They can definitely “initiate moves to repeal this part of the Electoral Act” without permission from coalition partners, because introducing legislation would be “initiating moves”. They’d need a majority to pass it, but they could introduce it without one.

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  105. chris (647 comments) says:

    Norweigan voting system here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Norway

    It sounds somewhat complex, but from my brief reading it seems to be proportional per county, with a 4% threshold.

    I’m pretty sure all of Europe, with two or three notable exceptions, uses PR of some form or another.

    [Edit] that threshold applies to the “levelling seats” but other than that no threshold? Interesting system…

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  106. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Norway’s complex system seems designed to ensure coalition governments.

    Will NZ gravitate towards stable Norwegian style coalitions or will it join the scores of tinpot countries with unstable, ever-changing coalitions?

    Norway is a fairly stable country, and despite recent Muslim migration, almost 95 per cent of the population are Norwegians (including a tiny sliver of Sami, who are among the original Europeans). Add another 3.6 per cent of other Europeans, and you have a country that is culturally and ethnically almost 98 per cent uniform – similar to Japan.

    NZ is a bicultural, biracial country undergoing a second big ethnic re-engineering, and the mood is for multilculturalism rather than assimilation. With electoral systems favouring coalition governments, NZ is more likely to fall into the tinpot mob of coalition-government countries than into the stable mob, which includes countries like Norway and Germany.

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  107. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    simonway – probably yes, depending on coalition agreements, but Cunliffe spoke as if on behalf of “the incoming Labour-led government”, not on behalf of the Labour Party. Any Labour-led government would almost certainly involve at least one other party and quite likely more. And Labour would be bound by coalition agreements.

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  108. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    JAck5: I would argue New Zealand is very much a multicultural country now…there will be more Asians than Maori in 15 years on current trends…I tend to agree with you that we are likely to fall into the “tinpot” grouping…

    I find it plain scary the damage even one term of a left wing multi headed hydra could do…

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  109. waikatosinger (60 comments) says:

    Making major changes to electoral law under urgency without achieving a broad political consensus or seeking a mandate from the people via referendum is one instance where the Governor General should consider exercising his power to refuse to sign legislation.

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  110. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    toad

    The Greens have always opposed the inappropriate use of urgency and enacting legislation without Select Committee hearings.

    But, you seem to be forgetting they supported the EFA being passed under urgency ?????

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  111. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    The 100 day thing is hillarious – he’s absolutely taking the mickey.
    Yes, you can say he is, but when you’re the only one saying it and you’re not providing any substantiation, then you’re living in a fantasy world. itstricky-land, where all the realities are awkward fabrications. Population 1.

    You have to have ‘substatiation’ now to find something funny? Humor has to be quantified and logically agreed upon? The real world is a far stranger place than I imagined.

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  112. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    Labour never learns, Helen was a lot smarter politician than Cunliffe , but burnt up a huge amount of political capital forcing through changes to the Electoral Finance Act. If in a nightmare scenario Cunliffe does lead the next government, how likely are his coalition turkeys to vote for an early Christmas?

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  113. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    “The 100 day thing is hillarious – he’s absolutely taking the mickey.

    That’s what I thought too, it was a piss-take of the Lying Lecher Len Brown of course.
    This is one of those rare instances of Cun’liffe taking the mickey out of himself by comparing himself to the laughing stock of Auckland.

    Well played Cun’

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  114. OneTrack (3,117 comments) says:

    “It appears that indirectly out of one side of his mouth he’s implying that that’s what he means.”

    What’s he saying out the other side of his mouth?

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  115. SW (240 comments) says:

    http://pundit.co.nz/content/history-never-repeats

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  116. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    The amusing thing is that Labour are clearly disagreeing with TTT being used to coat tail, so they are arguing against a potential means of being able to lead the next government.

    When will Colin Craig take out a full page picture of David Cunliffe -: “Nice one Cunny – we can see you are a man of principle” ?

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  117. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    istricky, there is no need for that

    “Labour leader David Cunliffe confirmed he would still be open to a post-election deal with Internet Mana despite making the abolition of “coat-tailing” under MMP a priority for a Labour-led Government.

    Mr Cunliffe said Labour would abolish the one-seat rule and reduce the 5 per cent threshold to 4 per cent within 100 days of becoming Government. So a party with one seat but less than 4 per cent of the party vote would get only one MP whereas now it would be able to claim four or five MPs.

    Asked if he would rule out dealing with Internet Mana after the election, Mr Cunliffe said the rules of this election will ultimately be fought on the basis of the rules the Government decided “and will have to consider, once the public have had their say, what we’ll do”.

    He scoffed at Mr Key describing that as hypocritical.

    “This is a Prime Minister who has done craven cups of tea with the Act Party leader and who has tried to beat the drum for the Conservatives and may yet install them in a National seat so the Prime Minister is in no position to sermonise.”

    Mr Cunliffe called on National to support a private member’s bill in the name of Iain Lees-Galloway abolishing the one-seat rule.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11267738

    Labour has decided to legislate a no coat tails policy once elected into office, but accept that competing under existing rules means coalitions with others in parliament after the election.

    What Labour has not stated is their campaign strategy … it could include the party, not just a few of its MP’s, making attacks on IM to undermine their party vote, and a contest in the Harawira seat – after all Labour competed against the Mana Party when they were a potential ally. Or they could simply state their coat tails policy and ask Davis to campaign for the party vote amongst Maori voters nationwide and accept Maori in the north are better off with both in the House.

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  118. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    Yes, campaigning under existing rules. DC has got one over JK on this one. How can you call DC hypocritical when they can only campaign under current rules but have opened the door for National to change that? The longer JK holds out on this, the longer he himself looks like the one clinging on to power via minority parties. It is a good poker strategy because they can always pull out the “well you can get rid of it, John” card whenever there’s a rave about IMP or Dotcom in general. In essence, this is why DPF is so outraged. Either that, or they’ve stolen Nat’s thunder. Cue the “OMG objection! This is unconstitutional!”

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  119. Than (475 comments) says:

    DC has got one over JK on this one. How can you call DC hypocritical when they can only campaign under current rules but have opened the door for National to change that?

    It would be completely improper for National to support Labour’s bill right now. After the election maybe, but not during.

    Imagine if National did suddenly change their mind and support repeal of the coat-tails rule, only a couple of weeks after Internet Mana announced their arrangement. A large segment of the left would justifiably be going ape, it would look like National was manipulating the rules to shut out a potential opposition party. John Key can quite correctly say that the middle of an election campaign is not the time to be changing electoral rules.

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  120. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    I agree – he can’t change the rules mid-flight. But I didn’t say he could or would – it doesn’t stop him from, right now, supporting that direction after the election. DC has the higher moral ground by mentioning it first. Stops JK from banging on about the unethical merger/funding/coat-tailing of IMP until he follows suit…

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