Guest Post: An alternative to MMP

A guest post by Graham Sharpe:

Recent criticism of the Coalition Government is leading to the suggestion we should return to First Past the Post (FPP) and abandon Mixed Member Proportional ().  But this is not a binary alternative scenario.  May I suggest we should consider something else – Supplementary Member (SM)?
 
This would be a balance between MMP and FPP but avoid the extremes of both.  There would be a stable government but smaller parties would have a voice and presence.  It would reduce the horse trading between parties, and the gifting of seats would be unnecessary.  The effective threshold for a list seat would be 2%.
 
We could go to Supplementary Member, as used in Japan and much of Europe.  Under this system, parties get electorate seats as they win them.  Then they get list seats in proportion to their party vote, but, unlike MMP, the list seats are not combined with the electorate seats to determine the outcome.  So if the Banana Party got 10% of the vote they would get 10% of the list seats, so 10% 0f 49 giving them 5 seats plus any electorate seats.  Currently they would get 10% of the 120 total seats, so 12 seats, which includes any electorate seats they already have.
 
How would the last election have looked had we used SM rather than MMP?
There were 49 list seats.
National got 41 electorate seats and 44% of the List Vote, so would have had 66 seats instead of the 56 under MMP.
So putting the results all together (actual results in brackets):
National    66 (56)
Labour      48 (46)
NZ 1st       4   (9)
Greens       3  (8)
ACT          1  (1)
TOP          1  (0)
 
So Labour, plus NZ 1st plus Greens would be 55 (perhaps 56 with TOP joining them).  Winston Peters would not hold the power he now does
 
I think this would lead to better outcomes and governance.  Small parties would still be in parliament, and still have a voice.  It would also elevate the importance of electorate MPs.  The Party vote would not be the more important vote, and List Only parties would suffer, appropriately in my view.
 
It is (to me anyway) interesting to consider what an SM outcome would have been in earlier elections (again with the actual results in brackets.)
 
2008 – Election of Key National Government
National             65 (58)
Labour               39 (43)
Greens                 4  (9)
ACT                     3   (5)
Maori                   7 (5)
Progressive             1 (1)
United Future        1  (1)
NZ 1st                   2 (0)
 
1999 – Election of Clark Labour Government
Labour                  61 (49)
National                38 (39)
ACT                       6 (9)
Green                     4  (6)
Alliance                 7 (10)
United                    1 (1)
Christ. Heritage     1 (0)
NZ 1st                    3 (5)
 
 
1996 – First MMP Election
National         48 (44)
Labour           41 (37)
NZ 1st           13 (17)
Alliance           6 (13)
Christ Coal       2 (0)
ACT                 4  (8)
United              1 (1)
 
If we look back further and assume that an SM Election was held adding one third of seats as list seats, it also shows the value of SM in keeping a measure of control over the main parties but allowing them to govern without being too beholden to others.
 
1990 – Election of Bolger National Government (Notional 49 List Seats)
National        81 (67)
Labour          47 (29)
Greens           4   (0)
New Labour     3 (1)
 
1984 – Election of Lange Labour Government (Notional 48 List Seats)
Labour          78 (56)
National        55 (37)
Social Credit   5 (2)
NZ Party        5 (2)
 
1981 – Peak of Social Credit Support (Notional 46 List Seats)
National            65 (47)
Labour              51 (43)
Social Credit    10 (2)
 
1975 – Election of Muldoon National Government  (Notional 43 List Seats)
National           75 (55)
Labour              49 (32)
Social Credit     4 (0)
Values               2 (0)
 
1972 – Election Of Kirk Labour Government (43 Notional List Seats)
Labour              75 (55)
National            50 (32)
Social Credit      2 (0)
Values                1 (0)
 
These results all presuppose people would have voted the same way under a different system – I accept that this has to be a supposition.
 
MMP proponents call SM “MMP light”.  They are correct.  SM would be a better system for NZ.  We do not have to go back to FFP.
 
I would advocate that if we stay with 120 MPs, 80 would be electorate and 40 would be list seats.  Any increase in MP numbers would follow a 2/3 electorate and 1/3 list pattern.  Recent calls for 150 MPS would result in 100 electorates and 50 list MPs.
 
I would make a few other changes as well.  NZ Citizens only can vote, not permanent residents who are not citizens (anyone on the Electoral Roll at the time of this change could remain on the roll and vote but going forward only NZ Citizens could join the Roll).  Voting basically only on the day, not in the couple of weeks leading up to the election (allowing Special Votes for the sick, travellers etc. as in the past).
 
As for the Maori Electorates, another topic for another day.

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