Guest Post: Read This One Post To Understand MMP Better Than A Political Science Professor

August 12th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A Guest Post by :

Whatever your personal views on , the referendum result in 2011 made it clear that our electoral system is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

MMP is exceedingly complicated.

I spent a large chunk of time during my political science degree at Victoria University learning it intimately, and still have to look things up occasionally to make sure I’ve got them correct.

While many people now understand that the Party Vote is the most important vote in deciding the makeup of the legislature, the intricacies of overhangs, top-up seats and the Saint-Lague formula are lost on most people.

It’s common to see mistaken or just plain wrong comments on news media websites and blogs and that’s fair enough really.

No one actually needs to understand the Saint-Lague formula in their daily lives, and putting in the required effort to properly comprehend it would be a complete waste of your time.

Unless, that is, you want to take on the responsibility of explaining the system to others, whether in day-to-day conversations, as a commentator in the media, or as an academic in the classroom.

Which brings us to Q&A on Sunday, and the comments of one of their guests, which provide an excellent opportunity for a refresher course for anyone interested.

Raymond Miller has a doctorate in political science, has written a book about our political party system, served as the head of the Political Science department at Auckland University, teaches courses on elections and is conducting research in to electoral systems.

And yet, he seems to have absolutely no clue about how MMP works, and why the Epsom electorate is so important in this and previous elections.

On the show, Dr Miller claimed that if David Seymour won Epsom but ACT didn’t win enough party votes to bring in extra MPs, then National would have been just as well off with Paul Goldsmith winning the seat.

But this is just completely, objectively, factually wrong.

I hope with this post, I can clear up some of the confusion.

By now, no-one out there should be in any doubt that if ACT receive enough votes to elect extra MPs with David Seymour, then that is extra MPs for the centre-right, obviously.

But what about the scenario that Raymond Miller suggests of ACT not getting anyone other than David Seymour elected?

There are two possible ways this could happen:

Scenario 1) If David Seymour wins Epsom, but ACT receive between 0.0% and ~0.4% of the vote.

In this situation, David Seymour would be what is referred to as an “overhang” MP.

This means that ACT won more electorates than their party vote entitles them to.

This also happened to the Maori Party in 2011.

The Maori Party won 3 electorates, but only received enough party votes to be eligible for 2 seats in parliament.

In these kinds of situations, rather than saying that someone who won an electorate may not sit in Parliament, sensibly, the overhang MP is still elected to parliament.

The size of parliament is actually temporarily increased to 121 MPs, meaning the Maori Party received their 2 seats according to their party vote, and then one extra seat for their third electorate MP.

So even if ACT receives so few votes that David Seymour is an overhang MP, the centre-right still receive a whole extra 1 seat.

[Note: If there are two overhangs in a parliament, meaning there are 122 MPs, then 62 votes would be needed to form a government instead of 61 votes, but even under this unlikely scenario, David Seymour would still effectively count as an extra 1/2 seat for the centre-right.]

Scenario 2) If David Seymour wins Epsom, and ACT receives more than ~0.4% but less than ~1.2%.

In this situation, ACT receive enough votes that David Seymour won’t be an “overhang” MP, but not enough to elect a second MP.

This is where MMP starts to get really complicated.

To explain, let’s start with a background on how seats are allocated under MMP.

The number of seats a party receives in parliament is determined almost entirely by the party vote they receive, according to the Saint-Lague formula. 

Typically, parties win a large enough party vote to entitle them to more seats in parliament than the number of electorates they win.

For example, in 2011, National received 47.31% of the vote, entitling them to 59 seats in Parliament.

National candidates won 42 electorates, which was then topped up with 17 list MPs to ensure National had the 59 MPs they deserved.

Had Paul Goldsmith won Epsom in 2011, National would still only be entitled to 59 seats in total, as their party vote hasn’t changed, but would now hold 43 electorates, meaning the number of top-up electorate seats they would receive would simply be reduced to 16.

So, Paul Goldsmith winning Epsom would have cost ACT a seat, but not gained National any extra MPs – result: one fewer MP for the centre-right.

But where did that ‘spare’ seat go?

As ACT wouldn’t have won an electorate seat, ACT’s votes would now be wasted votes, and this would change the Saint-Lague calculation.

It is technically possible that the election’s party vote result could fall in such a way that during the calculation, the Saint-Lague formula determines that National receives this ‘spare’ seat.

But it’s much more likely that the ‘spare’ seat is awarded to Labour, or the Greens, or New Zealand First, leaving the centre-right with one fewer seat, and the centre-left with one more.

This is exactly what would have happened had Paul Goldsmith won Epsom in 2011, as the Saint-Lague formula would have awarded the ‘spare’ seat to Labour.

You can see for yourself using the Election Commission website’s Saint-Lague calculator:

http://www.elections.org.nz/voting-system/mmp-voting-system/mmp-seat-allocation-calculator

Just load in the 2011 election results, but change ACT to have won 0 electorate seats, and National to 43.

ACT drops from 1 to 0 seats, National stays on 59 seats, and Labour increases from 34 to 35.

On that result, the Labour, Greens, NZF, Mana and Maori Parties would have had enough seats to form a government.

It’s possible the Maori Party might have chosen to continue working with National.

But then, rather than John Key being able to pass legislation with UF and ACT or with the Maori Party, National would have needed both United Future AND the Maori Party’s votes on every single bill in parliament.

The Maori Party would have held the balance of power on every single vote.

It’s not merely an exaggeration that ACT winning Epsom in 2011 decided the entire election.

If you know any Epsom voters, show them this article, and make sure they understand they might also decide the 2014 election.

69 Responses to “Guest Post: Read This One Post To Understand MMP Better Than A Political Science Professor”

  1. mjw (400 comments) says:

    That’s right. Much of the key legislation depended on the vote of John Banks.

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  2. redqueen (582 comments) says:

    The same applies, of course, to Ohariu. So two electorates decided, in effect, the fate of the country. This is why I don’t like MMP. Creates the same complaints people have about FPP, but with even sillier results.

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  3. Grizz (610 comments) says:

    Actually, try another scenario. Labour won the Southern Maori seat off the Maori Party. This effectively reduced the overhang by one. On the basis of the Party vote, Labour did not gain anything from this. They still ended up with the same number of MPs. What it did do though was cost Labour the opportunity to form a government. Labour, Greens, Mana, NZ first and Maori would have held 61 seats vs 61 seats of National/ACT/UF. In other words a hung parliament of 122 MPs. In this example, because of the intricacies of MMP, winning an electorate seat off another Party actually cost Labour the last election.

    The thing is, again, this election is looking tight. National winning Epsom could actually cost them this election. Likewise, Labour winning Auckland Maori could cost them the election as any benefit from overhang is eliminated.

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  4. anticorruptionnz (215 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  5. Tinshed (170 comments) says:

    My head hurts!

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  6. Harriet (5,131 comments) says:

    “……Scenario 1) If David Seymour wins Epsom, but ACT receive between 0.0% and ~0.4% of the vote.
    In this situation, David Seymour would be what is referred to as an “overhang” MP.
    This means that ACT won more electorates than their party vote entitles them too….”

    What does he mean by ‘…..more… than their party vote entitles them too…..’ ?

    ‘entitles’ – the rules are the rules – and ACT ARE ENTITLED to an electorate seat no matter what the outcome of the party vote under the rules. All parties are.

    I think he has probably used the wrong word —- or is suggesting MMP is somewhat corrupt in this area.

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  7. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    “If act and National are joined at the hip why dont they amalgamate ?”

    Even if that were true that do not amalgamate for the same reason Labour and the Alliance do not.

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  8. edhunter (552 comments) says:

    So ACT only need Epsom plus >1.2% to gain an extra MP?

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  9. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    So whether act wins or an independent like my self it makes no difference to National…

    No. Independent candidates aren’t treated as “overhang” seats. In the unlikely situation you (or another independent) ever wins an electorate, then the seats available to be distributed to registered political parties are reduced to 119.

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  10. redqueen (582 comments) says:

    @edhunter

    Yes, which is why DPF has posted previously that, based on the last election result of 1.1%, the party vote might not be wasted.

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  11. Grizz (610 comments) says:

    @edhunter, If ACT were able to earn enough votes to negate the overhang, then it would be less favorable to National. So perhaps those left wing voters should vote tactically and give ACT their vote. (Winking sarcastically)

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  12. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @Harriet: no, no corruption. The full quote was as you noted “more…than their party vote entitles them to”. Because their electorate vote is the thing that entitles them to it.

    @Ed Hunter: if we’re comparing to ACT not winning Epsom, then at 1.2% they get two extra MPs (David Seymour in Epsom, and Jamie Whyte).

    @anticorruptionNZ: they’re not joined at the hip, and there is no reason they should amalgamate. ACT have quite distinct policies from National. And it does matter to National whether it’s you or David Seymour who get elected, in the sense that ACT have said they won’t go into coalition with Labour given their current policies. Much the same way that the Greens have said they wouldn’t go into coalition with National given their current policies – but you don’t seem to be suggesting that the Greens and Labour should merge.

    @Griz: the better example on the left is with Mana. If the IMP vote is wasted due to Hone losing his seat, that would likely doom the left’s chances of forming a govt. Hence the lack of active campaigning by Labour in favour of Kelvin. The main problem for Labour is that they’re doing it badly – so they didn’t give Kelvin a winnable spot on the list (creating an incentive for him personally to campaign for the electorate vote), and they did some bizarre nudge nudge wink wink deal, rather than being clear about it like National have. They’re both deals, one of them is just clearly and publicly stated.

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  13. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    It’s possible (although, admittedly, unlikely) that Miller was speaking more generally.

    If ACT is unable to generate enough support to get more than 1 MP (ie greater than 1.2% in the poll), is there any real benefit to National in keeping them around? Wouldn’t it perhaps be better for National to just kill ACT off altogether by telling Epsom voters that Paul Goldsmith is the better voting option, thus signalling to ACT voters across the country that their vote will effectively be “wasted”? A significant portion of those votes would then go to National – because ACT voters aren’t so stupid as to waste their votes – which would in turn entitle National to another MP. Thus no loss to the “National bloc’s” overall seat allocation, while at the same time ending the somewhat embarrassing linkage with the Epsom rort and ACT circus.

    But that’s probably not what he meant.

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  14. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    It just shows how much some PhDs count for. I did not finish the equivalent of School C but knew he was wrong and emailed Susan Wood. It seems that PhDs in social sciences and law can produce people with a silver tongue and they are good at sophistry but very poor on logic and common sense.

    That is why I go on about some judges. The comments by Judge Helen Winkelmann are a good example of what is wrong with the judiciary. They get and they are expert in law but are totally lacking in common sense.

    Good article Peter. I must email it to Susan Wood so that can acknowledge the mistake next week. It would not be right if people voted the wrong way because of misinformation.

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  15. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ anticorruptionnz (190 comments) says:
    August 12th, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Because it is beneficial to them to remain separate. If they join together, and the Act Persuasion MP wins his electorate seat, then that provides only one vote for the Govt.

    However, if they work separately with a support agreement, then that Act MP also gets to drag others with him, who then up the votes for the government accordingly, even though the party hasn’t reached the 5% threshold required.

    So even though another party might get a total of 4.5% of the vote – and ACT only get 3%, they get to have a bigger say. It’s cheating the system to let the least popular have more power. That’s MMP for you! The losers become the winners, and the minority gets to have the biggest say. Which is why Act and National will never join together, and the Greens and Labour or any other combination won’t either.

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  16. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    AG, you are good at the mechanics of MMP but you are making some assumptions about human nature. Many of the ACT voters and some of the Nats may choose not to vote just as could happen if National pulled Goldsmith out. I am not say that would be the case but it is a likely as your scenario.

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  17. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @AG: it depends on how many ACT voters would actually otherwise vote for National. I’m not sure that it’s definite they all would, and any leakage into not voting, or still voting for ACT notwithstanding their vote being “wasted” would be lost votes for the right bloc. Particularly if you’re looking long term, it is certainly possible that some people wouldn’t vote National. Under current management I probably would do so, but they do sometimes become more socially conservative than I’m comfortable with.

    This was also the biggest drawback to John Banks – he just wasn’t in the same place on the political compass as most ACT voters – he was more aligned to the Conservatives in a lot of ways. I think if National are taking a long-term view (and John Key at least seems to be well capable of doing that), then continuing to have ACT around will over time grow the vote share of the right. It will take a little time for them to mature again and lock into their position – they’ve had real troubles ever since Prebble left.

    I thought Rodney was the best candidate to replace Prebble, he still really impresses me in terms of his raw intellect and also his ability to relate to people. But he made some mistakes, the caucus didn’t really unite behind him (with some particular people who went out of their way to white ant him) and the media went out of their way to be hard on him. I think Franks probably would have done worse, but you never know. The cycle through Brash and Banks pretty much destroyed any structure and coherence they had, and they now have to rebuild. I think they’ve chosen the right people to rebuild with, but they need to learn the ropes.

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  18. iMP (2,422 comments) says:

    Chuck Bird at 3:31 pm and AG at 3:42 pm you’re both making the same mistake as Dr Miller.

    If ACT wins Epsom it delivers 1 EXTRA SEAT to the C-Right via the overhang or outright. If Goldsmith wins, its one less, as the seat is absorbed within Nationals Party vote proportional allocation.

    If Christine Rankin (Conservative) wins Epsom, and CP has more Party Vote than ACT (as indicated by their 3x higher polling than ACT over the last several polls) then even more seats are delivered to the C-Right and John key is delivered greater stability.

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  19. Grizz (610 comments) says:

    @PaulL, Your example is not quite what I was getting at. There is no certainty what is going to happen to internet-Mana. It is unclear how much their party vote is going to be. I suggest they will struggle to get 5% but I would not bet my house on it. They still get 2 bites at electorate seats: Hone and Sykes. If they fail on all fronts, a small percentage of vote is eliminated, which is there desire of many on this blog. However I was eluding to overhang. The IMP is unlikely to cause overhang at this election, even if they win a couple of seats. In fact, if the Maori party is eliminated, which is a real possibility they will contribute to 1 or 2 percent of wasted vote. Actually I feel they will struggle to win more than 2 seats this election. I cannot see them having any overhang.

    If anything, overhang may come from UF and ACT as both these parties poll so badly.

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  20. goldnkiwi (1,531 comments) says:

    That explanation underlines the divisiveness of the Conservatives then. They should have left Epsom alone if they are right wing. If they are self serving enough said!!! It all has to be about the bigger picture.

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  21. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    @Chuck/PaulL,

    Yeah – I know. I was just fomenting happy mischief!

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  22. redqueen (582 comments) says:

    @iMP

    Assuming the Conservatives are able to work with National, which is highly dubious and the Conservatives are ‘willing’ to work with Labour. So it could just be handing votes to Labour. So it’s a safe decision versus your vote going the other way for three years. Hmm, now let me think…

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  23. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    National needs NZF under Shane Jones for a long term future and let Winston twist National’s arm to agree to have a binding referendum on the Maori seats.

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  24. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @Judith: it isn’t cheating the system if you do something that the system expressly provides for.

    The reason for the rule around winning an electorate seat was to allow for parties that had a regional electorate base. The rules around thresholds are in general to block parties that aren’t reasonably palatable to most voters. The thresholds set were that you either needed 5% of the total list vote (5% of the people in NZ to vote for you), or to win an electorate seat (so a plurality of people in a seat voted for you). Either was seen to indicate that you must have reasonably mainstream policies.

    If we’re looking for elements of the system that create a rort, I’d be looking at the Maori seats, in which a self selecting group of more radical Maori (those who enrol on the Maori roll) elect MPs who reflect their beliefs. You’re guaranteed through that mechanism to get a reasonably strident activist Maori voice, and not necessarily one that reflects the views of Maori more generally in NZ (many of whom are just ordinary NZers who happen to have brown skin, rather than people who are strongly affiliated with their tribe).

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  25. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    Chuck Bird at 3:31 pm and AG at 3:42 pm you’re both making the same mistake as Dr Miller.

    No, I’m not. I’m assuming that:
    (1) If ACT wins Epsom, that seat is not an overhang (and I don’t think it will be), and
    (2) If National told its voters not to vote for Seymour, then the vast bulk of ACT’s vote (all 1% or so of it) goes to National.

    In that situation, the “National bloc” comes out even. Of course, as pointed out, the situation is not realistic, because even if Seymour isn’t going to win Epsom, the existing ACT vote is so core that it can’t safely be assumed to flow to National.

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  26. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @Chuck Bird: nobody needs NZF long term, and so far as I’m aware Shane Jones isn’t a member of NZF nor a likely successor to Winston. How do you see this coming about other than you wishing for it?

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  27. wrightingright (145 comments) says:

    > A significant portion of those votes would then go to National – because ACT voters aren’t so stupid as to waste their votes – which would in turn entitle National to another MP.

    AG, wrong… wrong, wrong!

    But yes, I agree, ACT voters are not stupid!

    But some of them are stubborn enough to vote ACT no matter what. As getting elected isn’t so important?

    Additionally, many ACT voters will not have National as their automatic first preference after ACT. I know this from personal experience of knowing many ACT supporters.

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  28. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    IMP, Christian Rankin will not win Epsom. If you think she will put some money on ipredict. She does not enter into the equation.
    Did you see how the CP polled on Q + A?

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  29. James Stephenson (2,225 comments) says:

    If Christine Rankin (Conservative) wins Epsom,

    If Bet Lynch Christine Rankin hadn’t decided to stand in Epsom as an act of toy-chuckery after CC was denied a deal in East Coast Bays, thus proving that Key was correct about their unsuitabilty as a coalition partner and if one could be sure that a deal with the Colin Craig Reactionary Populist Party wasn’t going to turn off a heap of moderate swing voters (and you can be sure that the Nats focus-grouped that one to death) , then…

    Let it go man, it’s wasted vote.

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  30. Griff (8,192 comments) says:

    Imp
    Act is not center right in this country.
    National are.
    A vote for act is a vote for a more right leaning socially and economically Liberal national.
    A vote for the conservatives is a vote for a more centralist socially conservative government not necessarily national.
    After all which party supports government being in business in competition with the private sector. The Conservatives are against asset sales. The selling viable of business to the private sector. Colon has indicated he could go into collation with labor Act will not.

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  31. James Stephenson (2,225 comments) says:

    But some of them are stubborn enough to vote ACT no matter what.

    *Raises hand*

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  32. Daniel (215 comments) says:

    Unfortunately I missed the episode – but surely Susan Wood question Dr Miller when he made the blatantly absurd comment? She should have enough knowledge from hosting political shows to know it didn’t sound right (even if coming from a “Dr”). If Susan Wood did not question it then she is as unfit as Dr Miller to be on the show. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect from Rachel Smalley.

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  33. iMP (2,422 comments) says:

    I just don’t think ACt is worth the risk. This race (C-L vs C-R) is so close, than even if ACT won, they only deliver 1 to the tally (or at most 2 at a stretch). The Conservatives have been polling much higher, consistently, than ACT since 2011, so if they can win a seat (which is why they are standing in Epsom) they bring more latitude to the maths.

    Think about it Long term. ACT is spent; it is a woeful brand, but you have a new party on the C-Right with a healthy party membership, growing, learning, and eager to work with National, or hypothetically Lab. if voters give them the lions’ share (unlikely) which is al that was.

    If National and ACT voters ignore this Consv. chunk, we are likely to end up with 45% Nats, 1% ACT = 46%, or let’s be more hopeful, 47% Nat + 2% ACT = 49%. Good night Mother Brown and hello Hone, Kimmy, Laila and Matt McCarten.

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  34. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    Paul, aside from Matthew Hooton and other sources it makes sense. I cannot see anything attracting Winston to the left. He is playing a cunning game by talking about removing GST from food and other such ideas he will grab some votes off Labour. I know some life long Labour votes who see Cunliffe as a total dork and plan on voting for Winston. I bet their will be a lot more Labour voters who will also vote for Winston but not tell anyone.

    If regards the future of NZF I am sure Winston will want it to exist for a long time after him. No one in NZF could lead it. I doubt if Ron Mark could. I believe that Shane could and he could attract a lot of Labour and Maori votes especially if their were no special Maori seats.

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  35. Manolo (14,060 comments) says:

    We have to thank the hapless Potato Head Bolger for this terrible system inflicted on the country

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  36. James Stephenson (2,225 comments) says:

    They’re not “Centre Right” though are they. They’re a hodge-podge of populist policies with no clear direction running on a borrowed brand from overseas. A brand which doesn’t fit and is being rapidly overtaken by the personal brand of Colin Craig.

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  37. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @iMP: a few problems with your analysis:

    1. There is no chance at all that the Conservatives will win Epsom. If they wanted a seat they should have stood an electable candidate in a seat that they could win, that seat isn’t Epsom. ACT have held Epsom for a number of terms, for the good reason that they work very hard in Epsom. The voters aren’t going to just jump to the Conservatives.

    2. It’s very unlikely that ACT votes will go to the Conservatives as the Conservatives’ place on the electoral spectrum is the other side of National from ACT – that is to say, ACT voters are more likely to vote National than they are Conservative. The Conservatives are the moral majority and big government part of the right, ACT are the socially liberal and small government part of the right.

    3. The conservative vote is likely to be entirely wasted. There is no plausible way around that to my mind. I’m OK with that to the extent that they’re taking votes from Winston, and the NZF vote is also likely to be wasted because of it. But medium term I’d expect them not to survive on the basis that they can’t get over the 5% threshold.

    4. ACT isn’t a woeful brand, it actually has a pretty long history and sat around 7% for three elections running, and was 3.5% in 2008. The debacle with internal disloyalty, and someone who didn’t really have the talent to lead but wanted to be leader, created the mess they are today. But that’s by no means irreparable. Whereas the Conservatives at the moment are just another Winston First – a single personality party.

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  38. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    Daniel, Michelle Boag said Miller was wrong but to be fair to Susan she may have been impressed with the PhD and also not wanting to embarrass one of her panel especially if she was not 100% sure.

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  39. Steve Wrathall (285 comments) says:

    Exactly. Under any ACT party vote %age from 0-5%, ACT winning Epsom advantages the centre right.

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  40. Akaroa (585 comments) says:

    When are we going to admit that we aren’t as clever as we thought we were?

    With this MMP malarkey, I mean.

    It may intrigue the Political Scientists, but for me – (altho’ I also happen to have a VUW Pol Sc degree) – its tricky-smoke-and-mirror-like. (Especially after reading some of the above!!)

    Come on guys, its had a fair suck of the sav!

    Now can we please go back to a simple system anyone can understand – One voter- one vote- end of.

    (My vote goes to the party undertaking to revisit this crazy electoral voting system and restore sensible, simple voting!!)

    Prospective MPs please note!!!

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  41. Evadne (88 comments) says:

    Akaroa – too late. We had the referendum last time, and it won’t be revisited for a while. What a shame! If it was due this time I think MMP would be sunk.

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  42. iMP (2,422 comments) says:

    PaulL, I think you’re being a bit selective on the figures for ACT. let’s look at the last three elections to assess ACT’s brand.

    2005 2 seats 1.51% (Epsom+ 1 List)
    2008 5 seats 3.65% (Epsom + 4 List)
    2011 1 seat 1.07% (Epsom)

    In other words, an average of 2.07% across the last 3 elections. And we have to accept, that ACT “winning” in Epsom is not real, its an odd context to do with National voters “going across” to support an ally partner.

    As one of the debaters said the other night, if ACT is so popular as they say in “winning” Epsom all the time, why do they register 0.00% in the polls all the time.

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  43. Akaroa (585 comments) says:

    Noted Evadne at 4.54 – All I can say is ‘more’s the pity’.

    Hmm! (Muses to self) Might just start up a bit of a groundswell to bin this laughable, toy-town, so-called electoral system (!!).

    (I understand that even the “voters” in the corrupt Central African states are having a laugh at NZ’s crazy electoral system)

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  44. iMP (2,422 comments) says:

    Quoting ACT’s “around 7%” of the late nineties (almost 15-20 years ago) is not an accurate reflection of the ACt of 2014. We have to assess this party on today’s results (as above, ie the last 3 elections).

    These figures bear out my contention: that ACT is a spent brand, a term Brook Sabin used in his political analysis on the panel the other day. I agree. All ACT is currently, is a National prop-up, used entirely as an expediency. It has little vision, or ideology.

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  45. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    iMP: I don’t agree, but that’s OK. And yes, I was selective, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

    In the last couple of elections the media have come out with a hatchet “poll” shortly before the election conclusively proving that Act cannot win Epsom. And then a lot of people shift their list votes. When Act had a reasonably safe electorate seat they did much better. My view is that they can get back to those vote shares, although even the 3.65% of 2008 would be nice right now.

    Ultimately, the point is that it’s not your choice for me. You’re putting a story that Epsom voters should shift their vote to Conservative. In my opinion they’re not going to. Given that reality, the question becomes what should voters do. You seem to be happy to vote Conservative irrespective, notwithstanding that your vote will probably be wasted. That’s fine, that’s your right.

    (And, to be honest, the concept of “wasted” is an interesting one. If you believe Eric Crampton, anyone with half a brain wouldn’t bother voting, because the chance of their individual vote influencing the outcome is almost zero. If you go one step further, and say that your individual vote doesn’t matter, but perhaps voting for the Conservatives makes you happy, lets you feel like you’re sending a message, or any other reason, then it’s entirely rational and not “wasted” at all. It’s your vote)

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  46. bringbackdemocracy (428 comments) says:

    The Maths is simple
    If Seymour wins Epsom that’s 1 seat to help a National led government.
    If Rankin wins Epsom that’s 5 or 6 seats to help a National led government.

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  47. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @bringbackdemocracy: the maths is simple. Rankin won’t win Epsom. So:
    – if Act win Epsom, that’s 1-3 seats to help a National led government
    – if Act don’t win Epsom, that’s 1-3 seats less to help a National led government.

    The difference between 1-3 seats for Act is probably whether or not the media get a story going that Act winning Epsom is in doubt. To the extent they do that it tends towards 1 seat. To the extent that everyone thinks Epsom is safe, Act tend towards 3 seats.

    In other words, despite the fact that the Conservatives cannot win Epsom, them trying to do so reduces the vote share for Act and for the right in general. That’s OK, it’s their right to campaign as they see fit. But it’s not exactly the actions of a team player, them not being a team player is the reason that National didn’t do a deal with them.

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  48. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    @bringbackdemocracy Have you heard of GIGO?

    Garbage In Garbage Out. Rankin will not win Epsom.

    Put you money on ipredict the odds are fantastic.

    Even if Rankin wins Epsom that is no guarantee they CP will help National considering Colin’s bottom line not to support them even in confidence and supply unless he gets his own way.

    My vote is going to Winston. National would have done well with Winston if Shipley did not roll Bolger while he was out of the country.

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  49. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @Chuck: voting for Winston is reasonably likely to be voting for a Labour-led government. Are you really prepared to take that risk? For what reason would you think that Winston wouldn’t choose to go with Labour if he held the balance of power?

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  50. Dave Mann (1,251 comments) says:

    So, basically, MMP is fucking stupid electoral system then, isn’t it?

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  51. Jack5 (5,156 comments) says:

    MMP is clearly a crock, but if McCaffrey is correct, would National would have been better either to:

    1. Give Epsom to the Conservatives because they are going to get far more party votes than ACT while this would give National the same McCaffrey gap advantage between its electoral seats and party entitlements?

    OR

    2. Give another electorate to the Conservatives and retain the gift of Epsom to ACT? That way National would be two electorate seats lower and the gap between National’s electorate seats and its party vote entitlements would have been still greater, so National’s total number of seats would be better still. Is that the way it would work Mr McCaffrey?

    ACT is doomed, and if the Epsom arrangement means that I, in the South Island, am effectively locked into supporting ACT if I give a party vote to National, well then I’ll give it to someone-else.

    Only from the mists of the worst corners of German philosophy, from whence Nazi ideology emerged, could the beginnings of such as system as MMP emerge.

    First Past the Post was simple and understandable, and gave us decisive government. If we need a revolution to get rid of MMP, let’s get on with it.

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  52. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    ” But it’s not exactly the actions of a team player, them not being a team player is the reason that National didn’t do a deal with them.”

    That is where we agree Paul. I suggested to Colin many time to brush up on his negotiating skills. He has none but thinks he has. When his party is on 2% and National on 50% he is not position to make ultimatums.

    The likelihood of him bringing down a centre right coalition is far greater than Winston.

    In my view he has stuffed things up for conservatives like me by throwing his toys would the cot. He is now last cab off the rank as far as National is concerned. He calls Winston a liar but how many MPs have not told lies or at least deliberately misled the voters as Craig has with his push polling in 2011?

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  53. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @Jack5: you giving your vote to National doesn’t involve supporting Act. It involves supporting National. If National don’t get enough votes, they need a coalition partner.

    By your logic, you’d vote for Labour? But that would mean supporting IMP, Greens, etc etc. In fact, either side of the divide appears to have parties that you might not like. Best you don’t vote at all perhaps?

    MMP isn’t perfect, but nor was FPP. On balance I think MMP is better, in that it allows more views to be heard. The fact that some of those views are crazy is more a reflection of the NZ population than the electoral system.

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  54. Colville (2,300 comments) says:

    If the Cons dear leader could have gotten his ego under control and stopped telling the Nats that they HAD to gift him a seat he could have gotten on and done a share deal with UF the same way MANAless and Dotcrim have.

    Cons and UF between them would have gotten 4 or 5 MPs?

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  55. OneTrack (3,226 comments) says:

    Chuck Bird – “I cannot see anything attracting Winston to the left. ”

    Baubles.

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  56. Griff (8,192 comments) says:

    Whinny The greens and hone in the same government.
    what the fuck are you all smoking and can I have some?

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  57. lolitasbrother (749 comments) says:

    yes it does bring us to the point, where we know the dogs arse wags the tail, and the tail reads MMP, and tells dog when to bark.
    PaulL 5.50pm is a ggod commenter but in Australia , the problem with Winston is not that he will not walk away from the Racist party, but that he will try to dogs arse the NZ Nat party..
    So Key, take off your 50% orange shirt and go with MMP facts, a safe seat and bring in 4%.
    ie Colin Craig Conservative .
    OK we lose Winston voters. lose some and gain the rest .
    Winston will not join a racist coalition, or anywhere near them. John Key is opening himself up for loss, by pandering to racism and turning up to a fascist criminal party at Baptists Kumeu .

    No sane person can be forgiven for allowing and delivering to Cunliffe any quarter whatsoever.
    There will be fighting on the streets if the racists party dogs arse rules my Country

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  58. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @lolitasbrother: actually, I’m in NZ at the moment. :-)

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  59. Unity (611 comments) says:

    I don’t like MMP full stop. There are also too many people in Parliament. We shouldn’t have any more than 99. We are only a little country so why on earth do we have so many MPs? MMP obviously!! Also, even though the whole idea is to give minority Parties a say, it goes much too far and they are more like the tail wagging the dog. I thought MMP was a system devised after WWII to keep the reins on Germany so that one Party would never be able to rule there again. I lived overseas when MMP was voted in here and we couldn’t believe the NZ public actually voted it in. Funnily enough when we returned we couldn’t find anyone who admitted to voting it in!!?? We had a referendum on it recently but unfortunately too many younger people have grown up with it and don’t know any different so I’m sure that’s why change was voted down. Also the political apathy of many people didn’t help. I want it gone by lunchtime. FPP had its flaws but not nearly as many as MMP. There needs to be another system out there that would work, surely.

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  60. MH (813 comments) says:

    It’s all too difficult to decide who to vote for….actually whose advice to follow, so I’m selling up my Grammar zoned house and moving to Helensville.

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  61. Scott1 (576 comments) says:

    1) NZfirst will go with national unless John key is incompetent at negotiation (which I doubt).

    2) Negligible chance labour greens will defeat NZfirst/national – so this is about keeping NZfirst out of the coalition.

    3) the conservative would go with national and giving them a seat would get maybe 3 MP in
    (increasing chances of keeping NZfirst out). I guess National has decided this isn’t something they are willing to pay a price for.

    4) ACT will most likely win 1 seat with about 1% of the vote.

    5) gifting seats to ACT has some sort of a cost with swing voters of a certain type. (meaning their 1 seat off the back of a maybe 50% chance of the formula helping, is quite likely to be 0 seats net even in regard to keeping NZfirst out).

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  62. Shazzadude (531 comments) says:

    “I don’t like MMP full stop. There are also too many people in Parliament. We shouldn’t have any more than 99. We are only a little country so why on earth do we have so many MPs? MMP obviously!!”

    What’s a “little country”? Australia is more represented by MPs and senators (both state and federal) than New Zealand is.

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  63. OneTrack (3,226 comments) says:

    Scott1 – “NZfirst will go with national..”

    Of course. We can see the love between Winston and Key over the last few years. And Winston has never gone with the party that nobody expected him to in the past.

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  64. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @Unity: no, you need to do better. I’m pretty sure that all electoral systems have significant problems, and there’s benefit to stability. You need to tell us which one you think is better, not just assert that there must be a better one. And for the record, I voted for MMP first time round, and I still think it was a good idea. The spectre of Muldoon still haunts NZ, and he was a classic example of what FPP did for us, along with the rag tag bunch of numpties that they forced on us in the “safe” electorates.

    MMP at least makes it clear who voted for what – you vote for your electorate MP, you vote for a party list. It’s clear what happened. In an FPP election, if the party you want puts up a numpty in your electorate, what real choice do you have? And we got two parties that were not very different, and had a habit of doing something substantially different in power than what they said during the campaign. I’d rather see the coalition negotiations after the election than some back room deal between the factions like happens in Australian Labor (and which creates all sorts of weird policies that give favouritism to some random people).

    MMP has also substantially changed the nature of pork barrel politics – you no longer throw money at marginal electorates, you now need to target the “swinging voter”. Which is a thing that’s more likely to benefit NZ as a whole (although free student loans and free health care for wealthy wrinklies might prove me wrong there).

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  65. MH (813 comments) says:

    Its also reassuring to know for Epsom Saltzers that in the event of rain on election night and a low turnout
    the Duckworth Lewis system will be brought into play.

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  66. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    @PaulL
    August 12th, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    “voting for Winston is reasonably likely to be voting for a Labour-led government. Are you really prepared to take that risk? For what reason would you think that Winston wouldn’t choose to go with Labour if he held the balance of power?”

    You are obviously a lot younger than Winston or I as you cannot imagine what motivates someone around 70. I think I mentioned it before that I believe Winston would like NZF to survive him. That would be extremely unlikely if he went with Labour. He also would not want to be part of a coalition that was likely to fall apart.

    We all vote for different for different reasons. I believe in collective wisdom and strongly support referenda on moral issues like smacking, homosexual marriage and adoption and drinking age. JK like Cunliffe believe he knows better than the peasants. I also believe in a binding referendum on the retention of Maori seats. JK opposes both these democratic measures and Winston supports them.

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  67. Unity (611 comments) says:

    Well, Paul, we most definitely need a system whereby we can take back our democracy and that would have to include BINDING referenda. At the moment politicians just ride roughshod over the wishes of the majority. I also feel we have too many MPs so we need a system that would work with no more than 99 members. As I said above we are a small country and 120-121 MPs is just ridiculous. There was another proportional systems but I’ve forgotten how it works now but it would have been viable with less MPs. I agree with you on binding referenda, Chuck.

    Just look how the Maori Party has managed to turn this country into an apartheid State just because they were needed to prop up the Government. We were going down the separatist road previously but it has accelerated under National because of their coalition partner, the Maori Party. The majority of voters won’t be wanting this state of affairs but can’t change it without binding referenda and as long as the Party in power needs the Maori Party. Imagine if we had a Pakeha Party or something similar? It would be called a racist Party. The Maori Seats must go as we have many part-Maori in all the Parties so they are actually over-represented.

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  68. lolitasbrother (749 comments) says:

    This has been a good column and I thank Peter McCaffrey for alerting us to the sharp edge of MMP.
    Its like voting for the dog you like less in the electoral seat, so the dogs you like most can suck the party vote ,
    and drag the numbers up.

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  69. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    Following Wrightingright’s comment recently on another thread, I realised I didn’t understand the overhang phenomenon, so I thought about it a bit.

    Seems to me you could cook the outcome by giving a “safe” electorate to each of a number of small parties that receive only a few party votes. That is, more of the Dunne and Seymour type deals.

    Safe seats like Pakuranga and East Coast Bays could be added to the rort. For rort it is, the law not withstanding.

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