Pagani on MMP

writes at Stuff:

First Past the Post was awful, but ’s flaws have been worse than I hoped.

Party lists have mostly been rubbish, especially in the big parties.

Anonymous party officials have too much say and their party list choice are inadequately transparent even to members of their own parties.

I agree with John’s concerns over transparency of list ranking in the major parties. But I disagree that the party lists have been mainly rubbish. In National they have given us Katherine Rich, Chris Finlayson, Don Brash, Hekia Parata, Tim Groser, Steven Joyce etc.

There are too many MPs who can’t win a marginal seat but cling on through the list because of their special skill at palace politics.

This is what NZers really don’t like – defeated electorate MPs coming back on the list.

Parliament is more diverse if you keep a score of ethnicity, gender and other outward characters; I’m not sure thinking within parties is more diverse. Having fresh or unconventional ideas is a good way to get bounced down the list.

When there are more locally elected representatives, there are more MPs who have room to speak and act independently. A little courageous independent thinking is a good thing.

This is very true. Electorate MPs can take a more independent line. A List MP trying to do so will have a short future.

I like the idea that MPs should have to persuade a group of voters to get elected. One way to rehabilitate MMP would be to increase the number of electorate MPs, to around 90 or 95 out of 120.

It’s a nice idea but it would break the proportionality of MMP. If there were 95 electorate seats, in 1996 Labour would have a one seat overhang and in 1999 Labour would have had a nine seat overhang. In 2002 Labour would have a 10 seat overhang.

The other thing we need to do is get rid of the messy two-ticks business. By the time of the 2015 election more people will have only ever voted under MMP than voted under First Past the Post. Yet unacceptably high numbers of people still don’t understand how the two ticks work.

Separate votes for electorate and party votes invite cynicism and manipulation. Voters in Epsom should decide whether they want to vote for National, or vote for John Banks and in doing so help to bring in other ACT MPs. We should not have parties trying to figure out whether to stand, and instructing their own supporters to vote for another party. That’s a circus.

I disagree. I like the fact that you can split your vote and give your party the party vote, but vote for the best local MP regardless of party.

People who despise democracy are planning a big campaign against MMP later this year. They want to return to the days when governments could break promises with impunity. They want to buy government instead of winning it by winning a battle of ideas.

Remember what I said in my last blog post on this topic? The attacking of motives rather than debating the issues?

Also I would contend that while MMP has had many benefits, one of its weaknesses is in fact that it is easier for parties to break promises under MMP. If you form a majority single party Government then there is no excuse for not implementing your manifesto. If however you have to do a deal with other parties to forrm a Government, then it is inevitable that you must compromise on your manifesto.

If I had confidence MMP would be truly reformed I would vote for it. I’m weighing the alternative. If it’s just worse versions of party lists, I’ll give the alternatives a miss. If MMP’s advocates are too opposed to reform, I’ll pick another system. What I won’t be picking is the status quo.

There are reforms you can make to MMP to make it better. But there are also some thing you can’t change about MMP without breaking it – such as having a higher proportion of electorate MPs.

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