Unlike the Scandinavian states, however, New Zealand does not have multi-member parliamentary electorates. We have single-member districts. So too does Germany (which – like New Zealand – has a mixed-member proportional, MMP, parliamentary electoral system), and significantly – as the New Zealand Electoral Commission’s review of MMP pointed out – any vacant seat (electorate or list) in the German Bundestag “is filled by the ‘next-in-line’ candidate of the same party”.
To avoid the unnecessary expense of by-elections, New Zealand could do what the Germans do: we could simply fill parliamentary vacancies by appointing the “next-in-line” list candidate from the same party to the position for the remainder of the parliamentary term.
A sensible solution that preserves the proportionality of Parliament and saves millions of dollars.
Once a government has been installed in office in New Zealand after an MMP election, it really is debatable whether voters in one electorate – representing less than one-seventieth of the country’s population – should have the potential ability to bring down a government by changing parties in a by-election.
To enhance government stability, to avoid unnecessary expenditure, and to end electoral contests that are often little more than meaningless charades, New Zealand should give serious consideration to following in the footsteps of many other nations with proportional representation voting systems.
We should discard the dubious pleasure of holding parliamentary by-elections.
A persuasive argument.