The final MMP recommendations

The Electoral Commission has made its final report reviewing MMP. There is little change from the draft proposals.

The key recommendations are:

  1. The one electorate seat threshold for the allocation of list seats should be abolished. I agree, as I think it promotes tactical voting rather than voting for the best candidate. I do not though it would make Parliament less proportional in some cases.
  2. The party vote threshold should be lowered from 5% to 4%. I also agree. I would not go lower, but I think the original Royal Commission had it right at 4%. it also reduces tactical voting by having a lower threshold.
  3. There should be a statutory requirement for the Electoral Commission to review the operation of the 4% party vote threshold and report to the Minister of Justice for presentation to Parliament after three general elections. I disagree. Let’s not keep tinkering with it.
  4. If the one electorate seat threshold is abolished, the provision for overhang seats should be abolished. I agree.
  5. Consideration should be given to fixing the ratio of electorate seats to list seats at 60:40 to help maintain the diversity of representation and proportionality in Parliament obtained through the list seats. I agree – this means that over time Parliament may grow beyond 120 seats due to population growth in the North Island.
  6. Political parties should continue to have responsibility for the selection and ranking of candidates on their party lists. I agree, but I think there should be greater obligations on parties to involve members.
  7. Political parties should be required to give a public assurance by statutory declaration that they have complied with their rules in selecting and ranking their list candidates. A meaningless feel-good gesture. Better to have some requirements they must meet.
  8. In any dispute relating to the selection of candidates for election as members of Parliament, the version of the party’s rules that should be applied is that supplied to the Commission under section 71B as at the time the dispute arose. Agree.
  9. Candidates should continue to be able to stand both for an electorate seat and be on a party list at a general election. Disagree. I think this turns List MPs into shadow electorate MPs. I would treat the jobs as quite different. Also dual candidacy encourages tactical voting rather than simply voting for the best party and the best candidate.
  10. List MPs should continue to be able to contest by-elections. I disagree, as I think it means the outcome of by-elections are people get elected who are not on the ballot paper, and it encourages tactical voting.

The Government is going to consult with all political parties on the recommendations. I predict they will all continue to advocate what is in their self-interest, rather than what is in the interest of the best electoral system. That is because all parties believe the best electoral system is one that gets them into Government!

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