The Electoral Commission’s draft recommendations on MMP

The Electoral Commission has published its draft recommendations on changes to the MMP electoral system. The key points are:

  • The one electorate seat threshold for the allocation of list seats should be abolished.
  • The party vote threshold for the allocation of list seats should be lowered to 4%.
  • Candidates should continue to be able to stand both in an electorate and on a party list at general elections.
  • List MPs should continue to be able to contest by-elections.
  • Political parties should continue to have responsibility for the composition and ranking of candidates on their party lists.
  • The provision for overhang seats should be abolished for parties that do not cross the party vote threshold.
  • On the basis of current information it would be prudent to identify 76 electorate seats (in a 120 seat Parliament) as the point at which the risk to proportionality from insufficient list seats becomes unacceptable. New Zealand is unlikely to reach that point before 2026.
  • The gradual erosion of list seats relative to electorate seats risks undermining the diversity of representation in Parliament. Parliament should review this matter.

You can provide feedback to the Commission on their draft recommendations.

They will publish final recommendations later this year. Then it will be up to Parliament as to whether or not they adopt them.  It will be interesting if any party proposes a members’ bill to adopt all their recommendations, rather than cherry picking the ones they think personally favour them.

I’m a bit disappointed the Commission has been so timid. I do support lowering the threshold to 4% and abolishing the one seat threshold. However I think they should have recommended greater internal democracy measures for party list rankings, and should have proposed either not allowing List MPs to contest by-elections or indeed even abolishing by-elections (which they talk about but take no stance on). Also no movement on dual candidacy means that the issue which most upsets people the most in my experience, is not dealt with. I think so long as List MPs do not have their own distinct role, and instead remain shadow constituency MPs, we will have significant issues.

So some good stuff there, but overall disappointingly timid.

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