Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Threshold

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    And how do these blocs sound?

    National, ACT, United Future, Kiwi Party - 61 seats

    Labour, Progressives, Greens, New Zealand First, Māori Party - 60

    Bill - 1

    :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Darlington,

    In principle, I'd like to see no threshold - if the proportion of people who voted for a party amounts to one MP's worth, those voters should get their representation in Parliament, and we really have no right effectively to disenfranchise them.

    On the other hand, I can't help feeling your results list makes the threshold look like it has a lot going for it...

    Since Nov 2006 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    Interesting thought, but of course some of the minor votes may have differed if there was no threshold. On the other hand, I was surprised how many votes were cast for Progressives and UF -- did people really believe they might get to two MPs; did they just want to vote their support; to avoid and overhang; or did they not think about a strategic vote?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Graham,

    Martin - could it be as simple as "I don't think the major party deserves my support, but I will vote for someone who supports them"?

    I suspect that the majority of voters don't really understand what an overhang is.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    I have to wonder how may were people who voted labour in the past....could see a need for a change but...threw their vote away

    Countries that have a low threshold, do they have trouble with stability? Thinking Israel here, any other examples?

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Robinson,

    Countries that have a low threshold, do they have trouble with stability? Thinking Israel here, any other examples?

    The Weimar Republic electoral system didn't have a threshold, and had stability issues. There might have been some other reasons for the stability problems, though.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • James,

    Glad you mentioned Israel.

    Low thresholds - say 1% - encourage single issue parties, individuals with a strong local following, small religious groups and so on. And when they add up to 5 - 10% of parliament, it can be chaotic.

    STV gives an effective threshold of 15 - 20%, depending on the details. MMP can be set at whatever threshold one wants.

    Has anyone kept a copy of the useful booklet that was published for the first proportional representation referendum?

    New Zealand • Since Feb 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    You couldn't resist, could you, Graeme :P?

    I don't think one should go so far as removing the threshold, but reducing it to 2 or 3% and getting rid of the stupid electorate MP rule would mean that small issue parties that actually had a national following could get in on the party vote [in this election, Greens, Act, NZ First], while personality cults with no substantive support outside a home electorate [Jim, Peter Dunne] wouldn't get to drag a hanger-on with them into Parliament.

    I don't think the world would have been worse off without Judy Turner, Gordon Copeland (with UF) and Matt Robson (with Jim) not being in Parliament

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 270 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Interesting thought, but of course some of the minor votes may have differed if there was no threshold.

    Absolutely, and my fantasy blocks aren't super-likely, either; but the numbers provide an interesting throught experiment.

    For completeness, at the last election, Richard Lewis of the then Destiny NZ Party would have been elected.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I'm somewhat wondering whether the MMP minor party honeymoon is over.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v361/limegreenz/2partybloc.gif
    You can see that there has been a trend for people moving away from National and Labour, really since the 40s, but that there was a really big dip in their support in the first MMP elections. The last two elections have seen a real swing back to National and Labour, with National achieving the highest vote for a party since 1990 last night.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 689 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Oh, two other thoughts to add to that. Firstly, we really saw the demise of our centrist parties last night. I use centrist loosely of course, but both NZ First, and also Peter Dunne came within a thousand votes of loosing the newly metal Ōhariu seat (it had a heavy metal umlaut on the elections site). Although perhaps that is because both Labour and National crowded into that space.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 689 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    gah. losing.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 689 posts Report Reply

  • dave crampton,

    Any thoughts on increasing the seat from one to two or three, as well as reducing the threshold?

    welli • Since Jan 2007 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    I suspect that the majority of voters don't really understand what an overhang is.

    Probably true, Mike. I was surprised at church this morning how few of the National voters had even considered their possible coalition options, which I would have thought a more obvious question. (No idea if the Labour voters were any better - they weren't very talkative.)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Julie Fairey,

    Orcland • Since Dec 2007 • 217 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    Thinking about thresholds drives me to agree with Peter's comment on Graeme's previous post (about who decides which bills come before parliament):

    much of the way government and the parliament are run has not adapted to MMP yet

    Instead of a stark government/opposition dichotomy, could we get used to minority governments where each party gets some proportion of time/bills and coalitions must be built around each issue? Minority parties would get less chance to play at kingmaking (so we could lower the thresholds), but more chance to have a crack with their key (or most palatable?) policies. This should give us more consensus politics overall, but hopefully still allow some visionary actions as the 'opposition' got past its reflex of opposing everything.

    The big practical challenge, afaik, is that being able to pass your budget and forming a government wouldn't be so closely linked. Devising a starting point formula for how much control you get for your proportion of the vote (plus a bonus to the government for the boring stuff?) shouldn't be too hard. I know little of the running of the house, however. Where would this fall apart?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    getting rid of the stupid electorate MP rule...

    ...sounds like a really good idea. Anyone know the reasoning that led to the committee recommending that feature? It seems so silly.

    IF we're going to have a threshold of 5% (or whatever) why should a party that wins one seat (ie, has a concentrated support base) be exempt?

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    1.4 rather than 1 for the first divisor, means you only get a seat with about half the vote that would get you two seats. Keeps the joke parties out (with apologies to the Kiwi party, but they'd get more anyway, Bill and Ben wouldn't, and probably wouldn't run anyway).

    New Zealand National Party - 56 seats
    New Zealand Labour Party - 41 seats
    The Greens - 8 seats
    New Zealand First Party - 5 seats
    Māori Party - 5 seats
    Act New Zealand - 5 seats
    Jim Anderton's Progressive - 1 seat
    United Future New Zealand - 1 seat

    However, we'd have Outdoor Rec, ALCP, Alliance, and probably some Christian splitters too. They've all been blocked and then undervoted.

    Oh, and keeping out the personality cults? Am I the only one here who saw Helen and John's campaigns this time? Epic fail.

    Oh, and Prime Minister elect my ass. We do not elect the Prime Minister. Damnable US influence on our vernacular.

    Since Nov 2006 • 480 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Oh, and Prime Minister elect my ass. We do not elect the Prime Minister.

    I've never really found anyone before who might like my argument about the first elected woman Prime Minister...

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Wait, who was first on the Bill & Ben party list?

    Cause for one, sure let's have no threshold. The other... meh, not so much.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6201 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Graham,

    how few of the National voters had even considered their possible coalition options

    true - especially that a combo of ACT and the likes of Lockwood Smith, McCully, Williamson et al could push National further to the right than their campaign indicated. Hide has been very critical of National in recent weeks, and now with Douglas as an MP he will be pushing the hard right agenda. Not a pleasant thought.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Wait, who was first on the Bill & Ben party list?

    I'm pretty sure it was Billl.

    [checks]

    Yep.

    Oh, and Prime Minister elect my ass.

    Pleasantly surprised with Peter Williams talking about the Prime Minister designate, and the One News Reporter I next heard, the Prime Minister to be. TV3 had elect, however.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    IF we're going to have a threshold of 5% (or whatever) why should a party that wins one seat (ie, has a concentrated support base) be exempt?

    I guess that depends what you mean by the rule.

    If you mean "if you win an electorate seat, you get your party vote share of MPs even if it's less than 5%", that would be easy to change to "you just win electorates, no list MPs for you until you get to 5%". All electorate victories however, would be an overhang (unless you wrangled whatever party vote they got and lowered it to be equivalent to 1/120th, throwing away the remainder, which would seem pretty weird).

    If you mean "even if you win an electorate seat, you only get in parliament if your party vote gets over the 5% threshold", then the electorate needs an MP. If the winner of the electorate vote isn't it, then what happens?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6201 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Pleasantly surprised with Peter Williams talking about the Prime Minister designate, and the One News Reporter I next heard, the Prime Minister to be. TV3 had elect, however.

    On this basis, Obama isn't the President-elect either.

    Voters in the US elect members of the electoral college, who choose the President.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6201 posts Report Reply

  • JohnS,

    Looking at what has happened in this election, my preference
    would now be:

    Win an electorate -- you're in.

    No list MPs until your party has has reached 5% threshold.

    Party percentages (5% and over) allocated on a proportional basis among the seats available to make 120. No overhang.

    How bad would that be?

    Greenlane, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

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