McRobie on MMP

Alan McRobie (who advised the 1993 independent Electoral Referendum Panel) writes in the Herald:

If a majority of voters support MMP there are four changes that might usefully be made to improve its public acceptance.

First, parties should be required to win at least two electorate seats before they qualify for a share of list seats. Had this applied last election Act, which won fewer party votes than New Zealand First, would have had only one seat instead of the five it was awarded.

I disagree. I would lower the threshold to 4% (which would have seen NZ First remain) rather than increase the threshold for electorate seats which would merely encourage even more strategic voting.

Second, candidates should be permitted to stand either for an electorate seat or on a party list, not both.

This would remove what many see as “double-dipping”, aptly described as “voted out on Saturday; back in on Monday”.

Again I disagree. If you ban people standing on both, then it means that all the electorate candidates will concentrate on the electorate vote instead of the party vote.

I would deal with the Saturday to Monday issue in a different way, such as not allowing an MP who was the electorate MP and lost, from coming back via the list.

Third, sitting list MPs’ enthusiasm for standing in byelections in constituency seats should be dampened. It is somewhat bizarre to see sitting list MPs contesting byelections as has happened in Mt Albert, Mana and Te Tai Tokerau.

Here I agree. I would support a change that a List MP has to resign from their list seat, in order to stand as a candidate in a by-election. Jim Anderton I think has a bill proposing that.

Fourth, serious consideration should be given to introducing the alternative vote (preferential vote), at least for the party list vote. Although MMP results in proportional representation, wasted votes still occur when parties which fail to reach the 5 per cent threshold are excluded.

That is a novel idea. So those who voted for NZ First could then have their second choice count. I think it would be too confusing to have people rank all parties standing, but you could allow a 1st and 2nd preference.

Personally I think you could also use AV for the electorate vote.

Despite the recent statement by the Prime Minister that National “would not campaign for any position in the referendum” Parliament has loaded the options in favour of single-party majoritarian governments.

Nonsense. They have kept the exact same options from the 1992 and 1993 referenda.

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