The parties on the MMP Review

The Electoral Commission has all the submissions on the MMP review online. There are over 100 pages of them.

I’ve done a table showing the positions of the political parties on the various issues. While they will not necessarily carry huge weight with the Electoral Commission, they do show what there may or not be support for within the House, when it comes to dealing with any recommendations.

Issue Nat Lab Green NZF Cons ACT United
Party Vote Threshold 5% 4% 4% 5% 3.5% 5% 3%
Elect Seat Threshold 1 None None None unless PV 4% 1 1 1
Elect to List Ratio SQ 80:40 Set ratio SQ 90:30 and PV for Elects
Overhang SQ SQ SQ SQ
Pop Tolerance 10%
Dual Candidacy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
List Ranking Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed Open based on votes in electorate
By-Elections SQ SQ SQ SQ SQ SQ
List MP to lose seat if leave party Yes Yes

Before I go into each issue, I would comment that overall I thought the political party submissions were (perhaps inevitable) very self-interested, and not particularly well argued (little research quoted etc).

On the issue of the party vote threshold, National, NZ First and ACT support it remaining at 5%. I give credit to NZ First for supporting a 5% threshold, when when they failed to make it in 2008. A rare example of principle before self-interest.  Labour and Greens support it reducing to 4% (as do I), and the Conservatives opt for 3.5% and United for 3% – for fairly obvious reasons.

On the issue of the electorate seat threshold to get list MPs, National, Conservative, ACT and United support it remaining. Labour and Green support it going (presumably as a way to stop ACT or United ever gaining List MPs again), and NZ First say that if a party wins an electorate seat then their party vote threshold should drop from 5% to 4%.

On the issue of the ratio of electorate seats to list seats, National and ACT support the status quo. Greens say there should be a set ratio, without saying what. Labour proposes a change to an 80:40 Parliament (even thought that would probably make disproportional results more likely). United goes further and proposes 90:30, so long as there is preferential voting in electorate seats (they believe this means more proportional distribution of electorates, but I would suggest Queensland shows this not to be the case).

The overhang issue has all parties supporting the status quo.

On the issue of dual candidacy (where an electorate candidate can also be on the party list), all seven parties supported the status quo of allowing it. This is no surprise as dual candidacy works very well for political parties. Whether it is so good for voters is another issue.

The parties were also united on the issue of closed lists, with none of them (except United Future who says list ranking should be based on the percentage of party votes a candidate gets) wanting the public to be allowed to rank their lists for them. Again, no surprise.

And once again on the issue of List MPs standing in by-elections, no party wanted a change from the status quo.

In terms of other issues, National suggesting increasing the tolerance for electorate boundaries from 5% to 10%, and Labour and United suggested that List MPs who leave their party should have to leave Parliament.

So overall it is clear that there is no realistic possibility of changes around by-elections, list ranking, overhang and dual candidacy rules. No party supports change there, as it is not in their interests.

There are a couple of differing views on the ration of electorate to list MPs, but none of the parties has come up with a workable alternative to the status quo.

So in reality, the only area where there is a clash of views is on the threshold – 5% vs 4% and whether to have the one electorate seat threshold.

This is not to say that the Electoral Commission will recommend what the parties have submitted. In fact I hope they don’t. They will I am sure apply their own judgement to the issues. But the submissions do show that there is not a lot of parliamentary appetite for significant change.

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