Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: MMP Review: Trusting Voters

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  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Moz,

    Well no (55% of *votes* not seats).

    If you were following earlier, we have a two-vote MMP system. If a sizeable number of people split their votes electorate to Labour/ party to Green then Labour could still hold maybe 20 electorates (last election was 22), even if Labour went down below the quota of votes that justified that number of MPs (16%).
    If the Greens benefited and got 30% => 40 Mps, then they'd together hold half the house- with Hone Harawira, they'd be in.

    The overhang tries to correct that by increasing the size of the house.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    That would be the overhang provision that the Commission proposes should be removed?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Sacha,

    Yes.

    Of course, this is a fairly unlikely scenario. (and actually, the Greens would also lose list seats in the above situation and would need a few more points to compensate)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Well no (55% of *votes* not seats).

    If you were following earlier, we have a two-vote MMP system. If a sizeable number of people split their votes electorate to Labour/ party to Green then Labour could still hold maybe 20 electorates (last election was 22), even if Labour went down below the quota of votes that justified that number of MPs (16%).

    Maybe I'm just dim, but I still don't think that adds up. National's 55% would give them 66 seats (plus their 1-5 seat microparty bonus). Greens 30% is 40 plus Labour's 20 electorates is still only 60 seats. Then you've got minor parties soaking up about 10% of the vote, leaving Labour on 5% and an overhang of about 15 seats for a total of 135 or 68 to form govt. In other words, almost all of the old-school, rusted on Labour voters would have to split. That's a lot more than did the Mana/Maori split.

    But the question in that scenario is: can National get two support votes more easily than the Greens can get Labour plus 8 more?

    I think to have any real chance your assumption would have to wipe out Mana or Maori, plus the christians, ACT and Winston, leaving only the four parties standing. That would leave a bidding war between National and Green/Labour for the sole minor party.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Moz,

    I'm assuming no more overhangs, as proposed, so there are only 120 seats ever.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I'm assuming no more overhangs, as proposed, so there are only 120 seats ever.

    Ok, my take on "no overhang" is that extra electorate seats get set aside when proportional calculations are done. So the simple case of Labour getting 20 seats on 5% of the party vote means we have 100 seats = 95% of the vote (Labour's 5% effectively disappears because of the overhang). The Greens 30% give them 29 seats (28.5 before rounding), National get 52 (52.25). So Green/Labour have have 49 seats to Nationals 52 (total 101). On past numbers Mana and Maori will both clear the new 4% threshold, so the larger of them would have 10-15 seats. At the high end of that split you could get a 3-party coalition on the left, but either way National can definitely govern with one of them and possibly the smaller (if there's a 10/9 split, for example).

    I think to make this plausible we'd have to see a lot more love between both Green-Labour and Mana-Maori than we currently do. Or a wilder vote swing - if the Green vote was more like 35% to National's 50% the watermelons would definitely be able to choose between indig parties so the resulting negotiations would be much more exciting.

    This would be a lot simpler if you'd show some working, so your other assumptions are stated and the slow members of the class like me don't have to grind it all out ourselves.

    Or have I completely misunderstood how the "no overhang" rule works?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Moz,

    Mana-Maori

    one of those is more right than left, you realise?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Moz,

    The interesting question is whether any Labour MPs would resign rather than go down that route.

    It is interesting to consider if a proper coalition with the Greens would act as a dose of political purgative to a constipated Labour caucus, or if enough of the Greens would discover sitting in the back of a ministerial limo comfortable enough to develop a similarly obstructed caucus colon.

    The triumphalism of Green supporters means they never pause to consider that the latter is probably more likely than the former.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Moz,

    On past numbers Mana and Maori will both clear the new 4% threshold

    How did you work that one out? Mana got 1.08% last time, the Maori Party got 2.39% in their best showing ever in '08.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    If someone want to spell out exactly what scenario you want judged: party votes for all (relevant) parties, number of electorate seats for all parties, I can adjudicate :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2971 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The triumphalism of Green supporters means they never pause to consider that the latter is probably more likely than the former.

    From media coverage, didn't the party devote themselves to exactly that topic at their most recent national conference? Nice try, though.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Having crunched some numbers, I think that the scenario I posited, where National get a large absolute majority which is negated by Labour becoming an electorate-only party, is unlikely except in an unlikely limiting case.

    Which suggests that losing the overhang isn't that much of a problem, at least at the moment.

    [ I still support single voting, but I guess I'm in a minority of one on that ]

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Sacha,

    Sacha, I'm not saying it's likely that both Mana and Maori would want to join a Labour-Green coalition, just that Rich's thought experiment seems to require it. That's why I said "National would need one, Green-Labour would need both... which would be easier to get?"

    Rich, you continue to make me guess at your numbers then criticise my guesses. I don't think your numbers make sense, so I can understand your reluctance. But I'm going to leave it here.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    if enough of the Greens would discover sitting in the back of a ministerial limo comfortable enough to develop a similarly obstructed caucus colon... The triumphalism of Green supporters means they never pause to consider that the latter is probably more

    Tom, it hasn't happened in other Green party offices and the NZ Greens have considered the issue quite recently, so I don't think that is likely. The Greens have more of a history of standing on principle and refusing to compromise, so the "anything to stay in power" problem would represent quite a large swing.

    There's also the little problem that a significant number of their current voters (likely a majority) vote for them for exactly that reason, so if they tried that tricky they'd probably lose at least 5% of the vote. I'm guessing more.

    Look at what's happening in Australia right now, for example. The Greens have said "our policy is to deal humanely with refugees" and sat on that for over a year now while the two major parties bicker about which inhumane policy to implement. The pressure applied and bribes offered to The Greens have been significant. Result: much activity in the membership and a very firm "tell them to get f**ked". If anything, the pressure has led to Green supporters signing up for the "host a refugee" program in large numbers (http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/51004 ).

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think that whilst a governing Green caucus might certainly come under temptation to descend into Labour style expediency and trimming*, the party structures are there to constrain this.

    * see a certain large cities "ex-green/lapsed-green/informal-green" mayor for an example.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    You know I am sure that no party ever says "oh we're going to be sell-outs and disgraces once we get in office". But they almost all do.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    It will play out, for sure. They do seem aware of that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    How about this for a scenario. Posit that Labour continues their current form and gets a solid 25% of the vote, but doesn't hold on to enough electorates to create an overhang{1}. National screw up and only get 45% of the vote. With the new rules and soome careful cups of tea ACT, Winston and the christians get one seat each on about 1% of the vote each. Maori Party get 4 Maori seats and 2% of the vote, while Mana get 1 seat and 1%. That's... 76% of the vote. Leaving The Greens with 20% and parties not in parliament with the other 4%.

    I'm guessing that gives us 5 "hang" seats (Maori + Mana) and 115 proportional seats to spread around the remaining 89% of the vote. Can you wangle those for me, I really should be working. Thanks.

    {1} the new-style overhang meaning "more MPs than their vote would get them", not "more than 120 seats in the house".

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Nimmo,

    I'm feeling like getting rid of the overhang altogether is probably a bad move... surely a cap of 121 (or just outright lifting the number of MPs to 121) would be a better idea - same number required for a majority, while keeping ever so much more proportionality and giving the parties one more MP to form a government with...

    Wellington • Since May 2009 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Clarke,

    see a certain large cities "ex-green/lapsed-green/informal-green" mayor for an example

    It's not really a very useful example, as the council table is a very different place to the caucus table. For starters, there are no real party affiliations at local government level, merely a spread of political proclivities ranging from rabid right-wing insanity to whatever the part of the spectrum is defined by "a permanent state of apathy and only turning up to collect the pay cheque", rather reminiscent of a certain public broadcasting personality in the capital.

    Getting anything done in that environment is a touch more difficult than leading a caucus, even a factionalised one. It's more akin to being Speaker and attempting to get coherent policy out of the House by putting up proposals and letting everyone take a pot-shot. Principle is going to disappear out the window in fairly short order unless you want to spend your entire term with no tangible outcomes at all.

    Under the current structures, mayors are mostly figureheads. You have no executive power, no ability to allocate portfolios, and one vote around the table. (Different rules apply in Auckland, of course). So it's either compromise or be sidelined, which is not usually the experience of Ministers ... or at least not to the same degree.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Moz,

    Ok, having used lunch to feed this into a wee spreadsheet I get this:
    Raw percentage of the vote:
    National 45%
    Labour 25%
    Greens 20%
    Maori 4%
    ACT 1%
    Mana 1%
    Winston 1%
    Xian 1%
    minors 2%

    As above, assume that ACT, Mana, Winston and Colin Craig win their seats on about 1% of the vote each, and there's another 2% to microparties.

    That gives these seats:
    National 55
    Labour 31
    Greens 25
    Maori 5
    ACT 1
    Mana 1
    Winston 1
    Xian 1

    Which actually doesn't give an old-style overhang at all, it's very close to perfectly proportionate. On raw % times seats National would get 55.5 seats but rounding up gives 121 total. They have the smallest fractional seat entitlement so I've dropped one off theirs.

    By sheer coincidence this will likely give the government we have right now, since Maori Party are the key seats and they're currently with National.

    File is up at http://www.freefilehosting.net/trusting-voters if anyone wants to play (it's a very simple open office spreadsheet)

    To get an overhang we'd need Maori Party to get 5 electorate MPs on noticeably less than 4% of the vote, which is IMO vaguely plausible (which actually doesn't change the above anyway). Or, as Rich said, Labour to hang on to all of their current electorates and get a worst-case party vote.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Why would Colin Craig give up on his push for 5% just because it drops to 4%? Much more likely he grabs 3.5% either way, which gives seats to National. That's the whole point of a threshold, takes away small-party seats and gives them to (most often) the biggest.

    Since Nov 2006 • 338 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to tussock,

    That’s the whole point of a threshold, takes away small-party seats and gives them to (most often) the biggest.

    The first part of that claim (a threshold takes away small party seats) is true. The second is debateable ... the Sante Lague fomula used to apportion seats amongst those parties that cross the threshold slightly favours smaller parties over larger one. So one could argue that the Greens and NZ First actually get more benefit (in terms of the amount of representation they get in Parliament) out of having a 5 or 4% threshold than does National or Labour.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    But the threshold definitely increases the chances that a big party can govern on its own or with only one party. Smaller parties are constantly at risk of sliding below a threshold. I think larger parties have much more to gain from the threshold than smaller ones.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 343 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I’m feeling like getting rid of the overhang altogether is probably a bad move… surely a cap of 121 (or just outright lifting the number of MPs to 121) would be a better idea – same number required for a majority, while keeping ever so much more proportionality and giving the parties one more MP to form a government with…

    Shouldn't we have an odd number of MPs now that the speaker can vote? If we stick to 120 MPs by getting rid of the overhang, you actually need a majority of two to form a government (or someone to abstain).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

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