Amusing cartoon

November 25th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I’m voting for STV, not SM, but I do like the cartoon!

Results from an informal electoral system survey

November 16th, 2011 at 10:42 am by David Farrar

On Twitter and Facebook I did an informal survey asking people how they will vote in Part B of the Referendum. I did not ask about Part A. The results were:

Twitter Facebook Total Twitter % Facebook % Total %
FPP           4               1       5 10% 3% 7%
PV           2               1       3 5% 3% 4%
SM           8             22     30 21% 63% 41%
STV         25             11     36 64% 31% 49%
        39             35     74 100% 100% 100%

The difference between the Facebook responses and the Twitter responses are interesting. Twitter people went massively for STV while Facebook went massively for SM. Very few people went for FPP or PV. Almost all those who chose FPP said they were doing so tactically as they were MMP supporters, and see FPP as the system least likely to win in 2014 if there is a second referendum.

Some tentative conclusions I draw.

  1. Those on Twitter and Facebook (well those who follow me anyway) are far more politically astute than the general population, as FPP is by far the most popular option with the public who only know FPP and MMP, but very few picked it in this survey.
  2. If one assumes that those who punted for SM tend to be more right leaning, it suggests that people on Twitter are more left-leaning. This reinforces my general impression over a couple of years.
  3. I think those who are of a different political persuasion to each other are generally more willing to engage on Twitter, than on Facebook. You tend to see someone’s Facebook page as “their property” so don’t challenge them as much, while Twitter is seen as basically neutral ground and one gets far more challenging of views.
  4. Most MMP supporters will vote for STV and most MMP opponents will vote for SM, at least amongst the politically aware. This is based on my general knowledge of those who responded. I didn’t ask about Part A as I didn’t want it to turn into a debate on MMP. I may do a later informal survey on Part A.

I’m still amazed that to the best of my knowledge there are no TV debates scheduled on the referendum. Sure there has been the odd segment on Breakfast TV or Close Up where proponents have exchanged views. But I think the referendum deserves the same scrutiny as the election. There should be a 60 to 90 minute debate or debates. I’d do it like a leader’s debates. Have a couple of proponents for keep MMP and change MMP and a panel of journalists questioning them. Pretty much like Radio NZ did it, but you know on TV where you reach massively more viewers.

Will Key do a Cameron?

November 15th, 2011 at 2:42 pm by David Farrar

This is David Cameron endorsing a vote against AV in the Uk referendum. Whale wants John Key to do the same here, but in terms of our referendum.

Jon Johansson takes the other approach. he blogs:

John Key’s decision to speak out against MMP smells of partisan greed and hubris. It also raises questions for women, Asian and Pasifika voters and about what his tactics have been all along

I was staggered to hear on television Prime Minister John Key say that although he was “not entirely unhappy” with MMP, he intended to vote for change. The PM said while he likes proportionality, he “slightly prefers the characteristics of Supplementary Member (SM)”.

I think Jon’s post is a massive over-reaction. The PM was asked a question and he answered it. He said over a year ago his preference was SM, so this is no revelation or surprise.

We have a Prime Minister who wishes to vote to turn back progress for women participating in parliamentary politics, and a Prime Minister who in defiance of our dramatically changing demographics prefers not to facilitate Asian New Zealanders, Pacifika New Zealanders, or other ethnic Kiwis participating in their own democracy.

Jon is absolutely entitled to his view of John Key, but he is being rather hysterical in his tone, and is overlooking the fact that with 30 List MPs, one can still have plenty of female, Asian, and Pacific representation. It is not minorities that get disadvantaged by SM, rather it is minor parties (or parties that do not win electorate seats).

Jon’s rant is a perfect example of what I have said many times with this debate. Supporters of MMP hysterically denounce anyone who disagrees with them as anti-democratic, when in fact all five electoral systems on offer are perfectly democratic. I do not include Sandra Grey from the Campaign fro MMP in my criticism – I have found her to be very upfront about acknowledging that all systems have strengths and weaknesses, and it depends on what you value most.

If I was a woman I’d be very unhappy that my Prime Minister, one who has seemed to make MMP work rather effortlessly, has decided to favour an electoral system that will make it harder for me or my daughters or grand-daughters to pursue a political career. If I was an Asian or Pacifika Kiwi I’d be concerned that the Prime Minister wants to limit my and my children’s ambitions in the expansion of his own.

I am also, apart from being a political scientist, an ordinary citizen and I am appalled my Prime Minister supports a system that will make my vote less equal than it is now under MMP.

I think Jon makes it very clear how he will be voting. Further Jon is all but advocating people not to vote National. He is in danger of being more of a political activist than a political scientist.

I should point out here that I will  not be voting for SM in Part B of the referendum. I’ll blog in a few days on how I am voting on both parts and why. What I object to is the extremists who condemn people for daring to say they support SM or FPP or any of the five systems. My advice to Jon is to take in a few deep breaths and relax.

I don’t seem to recall Jon objecting so strongly when Phil Goff and Metiria Turei stated their preferences. In fact they have both been far far more vocal than Key on their preference.

Vote for Change and Maxim endorse SM

October 31st, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Not a huge surprise, but Vote for Change has come out and endorsed Supplementary Member (SM) as the “Smart Move”. They say:

SM’s the sensible middle. It means that small parties would have representation in Parliament, able to put their policy platforms on the political agenda, but it is less likely that they would hold the balance of power and a disproportionate amount of influence.”

On Friday Maxim also came out and endorsed SM. They argue its merits in this 10 page paper.

I think it is a pity that Parliament determined that SM would be a 90/30 model rather than 70/50, as the 70/50 model is more attractive to me, than the 90/30 model.


Electoral Referendum Bill Report

November 22nd, 2010 at 2:51 pm by David Farrar

The Electoral Referendum Bill has also been reported back. Major aspects are:

  • Comes into force 1 Jan 2011
  • aligns advertising rules with Electoral Act, including $300,000 spending limit
  • MMP to only be reviewed if people vote for it to remain, not if they vote for change. So any run-off referendum will be with the current version of MMP
  • Order of alternate voting systems to be alphabetical
  • ballot papers will not be counted on E Day, but the results of advance votes will be known which should indicate the likely result
  • The SM option has been defined as a 90/30 option. This is quite significant as it means it will be significantly less proportional than MMP. My preferred SM option would be 70/50 as MMP currently has. On the plus side a 90/30 system will have smaller electorate seats.

The question in Part A has been modified to be:

Should New Zealand keep the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system?

The options are:

  • I vote to keep the MMP voting system
  • I vote to change to another voting system

The select committee has done a diligent job with the bill. Politically I believe a majority will vote to retain MMP, especially with the SM option being significantly disproportional.

Supplementary Member Scenarios

April 29th, 2010 at 10:33 am by David Farrar

The Put MMP to the Vote lobby group has declared their preferred alternate scheme to be Supplementary Member:

The Put MMP to the Vote lobby today declared supplementary member (SM) its preferred voting alternative to MMP.

Co-leaders Peter Shirtcliffe and Graeme Hunt said an SM-elected Parliament would mean the number of list MPs would be slashed and “listers” would be stopped from subverting the will of the people.

“Under a 120-member Parliament, 90 members would be elected by first past the post with just 30 top-up MPs. If New Zealand opted for a 100-member Parliament –– something electors voted for in 1999 –– there would be just 20 list MPs,” Hunt said.

So a 90/30 system, or an 80/20 system if the size changed.

“What’s more, proportionality would apply to list seats only so it would be virtually impossible for list MPs to stop the party that won the most seats on election night from forming the government for the next three years.

“We have recommended SM because it provides for diversity but does not undermine electorate MPs. Under our system, electorate MPs would be denied a place on party lists. This would mean a defeated electorate MP could not return to Parliament via a party list. It would spell the end to electoral double-dipping.”

This is one of the things the public don’t like. However the solution has problems also – if electorate MPs are not on the list, they have less incentive to campaign for the party vote.

“We believe SM, with the appropriate safeguards, would restore faith to the parliamentary system, lead to greater voter participation in parties and foster higher turnouts in general elections.”

The Royal Commission on the Electoral System, which recommended MMP in 1986, said SM would be “likely to build on existing levels of [elector] participation” but added that popular control of Parliament under SM would not differ much from under first past the post.

“Single-party governments would continue to be the norm because the constituency results would not be altered by the allocation of the list seats,“ the commission said.

Now I always like to look at numbers, and how the last five MMP elections would have turned out if done under a 90/30 SM system.

To model this, one has to assume that a party would win the same proportion of 90 electorates as they did of the number that existed at each election.

Here’s 1996

In 1996 under MMP National needed NZ First to get a majority. Under a 90/30 SM, they would still have needed NZ First to govern. SM rewards parties that wins electorate seats, and NZ First won a lot that year.

In 1999, SM 90/30 would have given Labour an absolute majority, meaning they could have governed without the Alliance. Arguably this means the Alliance may have never disintegrated.

And in 2002, Labour would have gained a massive majority.

2005 is interesting. National and Labour would have ended up with 53 seats each, both eight short of a majority. Lab/Gre/Prog would be 56 and Nat/ACT 54. Don Brash could have become PM if United Future and Maori Party went with them. Helen Clark would have remained PM only if she could have got the Maori Party onside – Winston wouldn’t be enough.

As Helen had declared the Maori Party last cab off the rank, it is possible one may have ended up with a Don Brash led Government with the Maori Party, ACT and United Future.

In 2008 a 90/30 SM system would have given National a clear majority.

Back in August 2008 I blogged pros and cons of SM.

I also blogged back then how SM would have worked with no change to the number of electorate seats.

MMP Referenda

October 20th, 2009 at 4:08 pm by David Farrar

Simon Power has announced the process for referenda on the electoral system, and I am very pleased with the final process.

I blogged a few weeks ago that I was very concern that there seemed to be some talk of having people vote only once on retaining MMP, without knowing the alternative. But the Government has announced, well basically, exactly what I advocated (which I am sure is merely because it really is the common sense way to do it).

The process is:

  1. Parliament passes a law enabling a first referendum to be held in conjunction with 2011 election
  2. The first referendum will have two questions – the first question being do you want to continue with MMP or have an alternative system
  3. The second question will be to select your preferred alternative – the options are likely to be STV, FPP, PV and SM
  4. If the first question is a vote to retain MMP, the second question is academic and that is the end of it.
  5. If the first question votes for change, then a second referendum will be held giving people a binary choice between MMP and the preferred alternative (the highest ranking option from the second question)
  6. The second referendum will be held at the 2014 election
  7. Enabling legislation for an electoral system based on the alternate electoral system will be passed prior to the 2014 election, and it will automatically come into force if the alternative system wins
  8. The 2017 election would be run under the new electoral system, if there is a change

As I said, it is really good to see there is a fair process – basically a mirror of the 1992/93 referenda.

I find it interesting that in my unscientific blog poll, 47% back MMP, 23% STV, and only 20% FPP. Personally I think it is highly unlikely that we would vote to return to FPP.

A run off between STV and MMP could be interesting as they are both proportional electoral systems, but operate very very differently.

MMP Symposium Part II

August 27th, 2008 at 8:24 am by David Farrar

No Right Turn has blogged all the speeches from last night, including links to some of the papers for those interested in electoral issues.

Raymond Miller was especially interesting, on how by 2011 36% of voters will have known nothing but MMP. His paper had lots of polling data about attitudes to MMP broken down by various demographics.

Constitutional Law expert Professor Philip Joseph is now speaking on future constitutional challenges. He is outling five changes under MMP.

  1. Indirect election of Governments. The public used to effectively elect the Government, and it would be known within a couple of hours of election night. Now the effect is to elect a Parliament and Parliament spends a few weeks negotiating a Government. He emphaised this means the public are often surprised by the Government that emerges such as Nat/NZF in 1996 and in 2005 Labour campaigned with the Greens but ended up appointing Peters and Dunne as Ministers – something no-one would have expected before the election.
  2. Government formation. Only in 1999 was the shape of the Government known on the night as Labour and Alliance got 63 seats on election night and had said they would go into coalition together. Ironically they shrank to 59 seats when the Greens later qualified for representation.
  3. Minority coalition Government. Four of the five coalition Governments have been minority Governments. Only National-NZF was a majority Government.
  4. Collective responsibility. MMP has shown that collective responsibility is not a constitutional convention but merely a rule of pragmatic politics.
  5. Government and Opposition reconfigured. These labels are more flexible now.

Joseph then touched on the issue of the Maori seats. He asserted that retaining the seats will inflate the parliamentary representation of Maori beyond their relative population base and will create a permament overhang that will skew MMP proportionality.

Professor Joseph pointed out there are currently 22 MPs of Maori descent, representing 19% of Parliament – well above the 14% of the general population that Maori comprise. Eliminating the Maori seats would have Maori make up 12.4% of Parliament, only 1.4% below their population share and hethinks the 2008 election will see even that small gap disappear – without relying on the Maori seats.

He also touched on the possibility of overhang in the Maori seats leading to a situation where National might get 50.1% of the vote, but be unable to form a Government due to the increased size of Parliament. This would create considerable resentment and a backlash.

Another challenge Joseph alluded to is that one day there will not be enough list seats to ensure proportionality. So long as the NI populations grows faster than the SI, then every five years the number of electorate seats will increase, and the number of list seats diminish. Already under MMP the number of list seats has fallen from 55 to 50.

Three solutions are identified:

  1. Increase the size of the House to greater than 120
  2. Abolish the Maori seats, and have seven more list seats
  3. Reduce the number of electorates, which will increase the size of the largest electorates considerably

Finally Joseph looks at whether MMP will survive in light of National’s referendum pledge. He thinks it will as he doubts National will get the numbers in Parliament, even if they form the Government, to have the referenda.

Nigel Roberts is now talking on the alternatives to MMP. He is doing what I in fact did on my blog some weeks ago, and look at what would have been the results of the four MMP elections if done under MMP.

Roberts identified five problems with MMP as he sees it:

  1. One seat threshold
  2. Treating minor parties and independents differently
  3. Overhang
  4. Closed Lists
  5. Backdoor MPs

He pointed out you can fix these without a referendum – only need for changing the system.

Says one seat threshold is unfair. Christian Coalition got no seats on 4.3% in 1996 yet NZ First got five seats on 4.3% in 1999.

With issue 5, could do as in Wales and people can be an electorate candidate or list candidate – but not both.

No Right Turn on SM

August 12th, 2008 at 12:13 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn has some useful quotes from the Royal Commission on the SM system. Incidentally one friend IM’s me and asked me what does SM stand for apart from as part of BDSM. When I replied it was supplementary member they giggled that it was almost as dirty 🙂

NRT is upset that a story described the Royal Commission as viewing SM as having “real merit”, and quotes them in rebuttal. However when I look at the conclusion, I think “real merit” is not an unfair description, Of course it was not the preferred option, but here is the Commisison’s conclusion:

2.114. Conclusion. The Commission recognises that SM has considerable appeal. It improves on the plurality system in a number of ways. First, it would give representation to significant minor parties. Second, because almost all of the list votes would count towards the election of candidates, electors in safe seats would have a more effective role than under the present system. Third, it would enable the parties, particularly major ones, to protect a limited number of particularly able members in marginal seats. Fourth, it would provide a way of increasing the number of MPs but avoid the disruption to constituency boundaries that would be caused by a significant extra number of single-member constituencies. Fifth, it would, because of the list, be likely to enhance the representation of Maori voters as well as voters belonging to other special interest or minority groups. Sixth, it would lessen somewhat the disproportionality between major parties.

2.115. Nevertheless, the Commission is of the view that SM does not go far enough in meeting the fundamental objections to the plurality system in respect of the relationship between seats and votes. Those objections would still be powerful under SM, even though minor parties might be somewhat better off. We are reluctant to rule out SM altogether, however, until we have seen whether either MMP or STV can overcome the objections to both plurality and to SM without introducing too many disadvantages of their own.

They said they are not ruling out SM, listed many benefits from it, but said it doesn’t go as far as MMP or STV in terms of the relationship between seats and votes. Yor can quibble over whether you describe that as “real merit” or “some merit” or “worth considering” but their conclusion is a good summary of the pros and cons.

And that is what I was seeking to do yetserday – get some debate going on the pros and cons, and looking at what the impact would be. If a majority do want a referendum, then I would rather it on MMP vs SM (or MMP vs STV) than MMP vs FPP. My concern is that FPP may win, and that would be a backward step.

MMP elections under SM

August 11th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I was curious as to how the four elections we have had under MMP, would have gone under SM. It was relatively simple to redo the St Lague formula to calculate this, so below are who each election would have turned out under SM:

In 1996, National and NZ First went into a coalition with a 61/120 majority. Under SM this is still a likely outcome but they would have had 64 seats instead of 61. NZ First were not that keen to go with Labour if they were dependent on the Alliance and Labour/NZF was 56 MPs so this problem still existed.

Overall it is hard to see a different outcome under SM.

In 1999 Labour and the Alliance formed a minority Government with 59 seats out of 120. They were backed by the Greens to give them 66/120 on supply and confidence.

Now under SM Labour could have governed alone. It is possible they may have chosen to go still do a Coalition with the Alliance, but I suspect they would have been treated like the Greens – supporting players outside Government. Ironically if this had been the case, it is likely the Alliance would not have disintegrated on the Afghanistan issue. If they had not been in Government they could have oppossed troops, like the Greens did. I suspect Anderton’s ego made a bust up with Harre and McCarten inevitable at some stage, but perhaps not as early as 2002.

In 2002, Labour formed a minority Government with Progressive having 54/120 seats. They had confidence and supply from United and Greens giving them a total of 71 seats. Under SM they could have governed alone.

In 2005, Labour formed a majority Government with Progressives, NZ First and United having 61/120 seats. They also had agreement to abstain on confidence and supply from the Greens and a non formal abstention from the Maori Party meaning they could win confidence votes 61 to 50. National tried to put a Government together also which was in theory possible with National, ACT, United Future, and Maori Party having 57 seats but they could not get NZ First which would have given them 64.

Under SM, Labour, Progressive, NZ First and United Future would only total 59 seats so Labour would have been a minority Government relying on abstentions from Green and Maori Party. Arguably more likely is Clark may have gone left instead of centrist and done a Labour, Progressive, Green, Maori coalition which would give her 62 seats.

What options did National have, if this was SM? On 51 seats they need 10 to make 61. Assume ACT and United Future and they are at 55 seats. Maori Party would give them 60 but they would still be one seat short.

So under SM, the Alliance may have never disintegrated, and the Greens may have got their long desired coalition agreement in 2005, as Clark would have been unable to get a majority just with NZ First and United.

And in no case would there have been a different major party in Government.


August 11th, 2008 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Weekend Herald reports John Key as saying he does not favour a return to FPP, but is leanign towards SM which is a semi-proportional system.

“I’m leaning towards Supplementary Member,” Mr Key said. “It allows for proportionality while ensuring it’s not the dominating factor. You get the best of MMP without it being overpowering. That is the reason why.”

I also don’t support a return to FPP, but think both STV and SM have merit. MMP has worked well in many ways, but there are areas where it does not. I think the biggest weakness is the huge power given to so called centrist politicians such as Peters. There is no doubt he would have been sacked from his Ministerial role by now, if it were not for MMP.

For those who do not know how SM works, it is very similar to MMP but with the vital change that the allocation of list MPs is done by having them supplementary to the electorate MPs. In practical terms it means that under SM every electorate won by a party is a net gain for thet party. Under MMP if you win an additional electorate, you get allocated one less list MP.

SM is used in around 16 countries including Japan, Georgia, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Anyway it is worth taking a look at SM, the pros and cons of it. No electoral system is perfect with only positive attributes. So what are the pros and cons of SM:

Pros of SM

  1. Could not be simpler to implement – the only change is how List MPs are allocated by the Chief Electoral Officer.
  2. Retains party lists, allowing parties to use them to have more diverse MPs
  3. Minor parties who make 5% retain a presence in Parliament
  4. Reduces the “tail wagging the dog” syndrome where minor parties gain power massively in excess of their share of the vote
  5. Makes it less likely you will need as many as four parties to form a Government
  6. Increases the chance the Government will be known on election night, and not decided by who is the best negotiator
  7. Will make Government less able to ignore the public mood on controversial issues such as anti-smacking bill, as losing electorate seats is far more devastating under SM than MMP.
  8. Would be safer to reduce the threshold for representation from 5%, as minor parties less powerful
  9. Unlike FPP, every vote will still count towards gaining more MPs for your party
  10. Removes the problem of over-hang (ironically by sort of making every electorate seat an over-hang seat)

Cons of SM

  1. Is only a semi-proportional system, therefore one could end up with a situation where a Government received less votes than the Opposition. This is also possible under MMP with overhang. Under SM it is more likely than under MMP but less likely than under FPP.
  2. Increases the chance a party can form a Government by itself (some will say this is a pro)
  3. Encourages pork barrel politics as marginal seats become far far more important under SM than under MMP
  4. Favours parties which can win electorate seats
  5. Over time electorates would grow in importance as number of List MPs declines – unless the size of Parliament as a whole grows, or the number of electorate seats is frozen.

There are probably more pros and cons that these ones. Feel free to add them below.

Trying to win via overhang

June 7th, 2008 at 5:49 pm by David Farrar

The Green Party are once again showing their commitment to principles are incredibly expendable when it comes to political gain. They are now trying to engineer an election result which would result in a Government which had more votes cast against it, than for it.

Now to appreciate the hypocrisy of this, one has to look at MMP and the major principle or virtue of MMP. It is a proportional voting system where a party gets representation in Parliament in proportion to party votes cast for it. The Greens have strongly supported MMP, and one of the reasons so many supported it was because of the 1978 and 1981 situation when National formed a Government despite having less votes than Labour.

Now the Greens are trying to engineer a deliberate over-hang situation, which would result in a non proportional result. This is their suggestion that Maori roll voters should give their party vote to Greens and electorate vote to Maori Party in order to create an over-hang.

First we need to look at how over-hang happens. It happens when a party wins more electorate seats than its share of the party vote would entitle it to.  It is hard to eliminate entirely unless you abolish electorate seats. We currently have an over-hang of one seat as the Maori Party won four electorate seats and their party vote only entitled them to three seats.

It is also possible that this election could see ACT, United Future or Progressive with over-hang if their leaders retain their seats but their party vote is around 0.7% or less.

So we already have over-hang, but it is what I call accidental over-hang. The Maori Party, ACT, United Future and Progressive all want to increase their party vote.

But what the Greens are calling for, is for Maori roll voters to vote in such a way to ensure over-hang, to gain parties of the left more seats in Parliament than their party vote entitles them to. Here is how it works. Let us say the Maori Party wins all seven Maori seats. Now if they get 6% party vote, then the Maori Party will have eight MPs – one list MP and seven electorate MPs.

The Greens are saying, those Maori Party voters should give their party vote to the Greens. Now in an extreme example if those 6% all gave the Greens their party vote, then the Greens would gain an extra eight List MPs, while the Maori Party would still have seven MPs – all overhang seats. That means a Parliament of 127.

And this could change who gets to form the Government. Let’s say National gets 51% of the vote and 62 MPs. They should get to be the Government under MMP – this is exactly what MMP is meant to guarantee.

But by this strategy of deliberate vote splitting to ensure over-hang, then Labour, Greens and Maori Party could gain 65 MPs instead of the 58 they would have on the party vote only, and get to form a Government which only a minority of NZers voted for.

So whenever the Greens talk about any sort of principle when it comes to MMP or electoral law, you should remember that they are proposing a plan which is without principle and designed to secure power for the left, even if that goes against what the majority of NZers want.

Now some people could say, hey this is a loophole in MMP, and one should exploit any loophole you can find. The fact is though this loophole is more a design issue (can’t really easily fix it), and one which no party up until now has tried to really exploit. For the last 12 years various people have tried to convince National to try and do what the Greens are talking about. How it would be done is National splits into two parties – one contests the party vote and no electorates, and one contests electorates only. They would be seperate parties but co-operate together like the Libs and Nats in Australia. This would result in National getting 30 seat overhangs. Labour would then probably do the same and you’d basically have a meltdown of the MMP system (or a 190 seat Parliament!).

So the consequences of what the Greens are trying to do are severe. They are not only trying to frustrate the will of the voters, but they endanger MMP. For let me tell you that if they actually succeeded with their plan, and engineered a deliberate over-hang which changed the election result, the backlash would be nasty and massive. MMP would go, as the main rationale of MMP would have been discredited. Now FPP supporters might like that, but for the Greens as supporters of MMP to act in such a way is unprincipled and shameless.

The Greens, like all parties, are entitled to ask voters on teh Maori roll to vote for them with their party vote. But that should be on the basis of wanting Green party policies implemented and/or to get more Green MPs into Parliament. But they are not doing that. Instead they are arguing on the basis of overhang, that people should vote Green:

The question that Maori voters are asking though is that if the Maori party wins 6 electorate seats (it thinks it can win seven) is it worth also giving a party vote to the Maori Party? Last election each seat in Parliament was worth about 20,000 votes. So the answer is yes, a party vote for the Maori Party can deliver another parliamentary seat but only if there are about another 140,000 votes to go with it and help it climb above the seat overhang the Maori Party is expected to have. In other words, Maori voters who are leaning towards the Maori Party would need to give 7 times as many votes to the Maori Party to get one seat in parliament as they would to the Green Party.

They should abandon such arguments and retain a shred of principle. An MMP election should be decided by which parties get the most party votes. If they want to use overhang to gain power, then they should support the SM electoral system which effectively does precisely that.

Du Fresne on blogs

April 30th, 2008 at 10:37 am by David Farrar

Karl Du Fresne had an article in yesterday’s Dominion Post about blogs:

BREAKING NEWS: Police hold grave fears for the safety of a man reported missing in the Internet blogosphere.

The man told family members he was taking a short afternoon excursion to explore Poneke’s Weblog … He hasn’t been seen since.

“Poneke’s is a relatively gentle blog that shouldn’t have exposed him to any serious risk,” a police spokesman said. “But there are lots of links leading off it to other blogs, some of which are a good deal more hazardous. He may have strayed off the beaten track.

“We’ve seen this sort of thing before. Someone sets out to have a look at a blog like Poneke’s, then they get diverted on to Russell Brown’s Public Address weblog or David Farrar’s Kiwiblog, and with just a couple of innocent clicks they wander off into the wilderness. They lose track of the passage of time and before they know it they’re hopelessly bushed.

“It’s a maze out there and he may have ended up a long way from where he started. There are links to political blogs, media blogs, sports blogs, wine blogs, heavy metal blogs, climate change blogs, hard-left blogs, extreme-right blogs, greenie blogs, sado-masochism blogs . . . you name it.

An inquiring mind could ask how Karl knows there are sado-masocistic blogs :-). Unless he means Whoar where reading Phil’s uncapitalised prose does cause pain!

The police spokesman said concerns were heightened by the fact that the man was inexperienced and poorly equipped.

“He’s not had much previous exposure to infantile abuse and personal invective of the type that he’s likely to find in the blogosphere. Also, his family advises us he has a history of severe allergic reactions to bad grammar, misspellings and missing apostrophes. We’re encouraging them to keep their hopes up, but it’s not looking good.”

I think Karl is admitting to a secret addiction. Or maybe he is the mystery Queen Bee blogging at The Hive!

An unproportional result

March 10th, 2008 at 10:40 am by David Farrar

Keith Ng blogs on an issue I planned to cover in more detail. What would happen if an overhang in seats for the Maori Party resulted in a Government being elected that got less votes than the Opposition?  Keith gives an example:

Anderton, Dunne and Hide gets <2% party vote between them. Maori Party gets all 7 Maori seats, with 3% of the party vote. We get a Parliament of 125 MPs. National + Hide + Dunne have 62 seats. Labour + Greens + Anderton have 56 seats.

In this scenario, the Maori Party could reverse a 6-seat gap with 3% of party votes.

That would be a fundamental slap in the face of proportional representation, and the scale of it would be made possible because of the Maori seats.

In this scenario, I would predict one of two likely responses.

The first is that MMP would be swept aside as its main virtue (and I support MMP over FPP) would be undermined.

The second is that the major parties would respond to this overhang situation by creating their own overhangs by creating party vote only parties and electorate seat only parties. Then all electorate seats would be overhangs (and we would ironically have a Supplementary Member style electoral  system) and the House would have 190 MPs!