Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Voting Referendum: Jus' Sayin'

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  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    The problem I see is that its proportionality is non-guaranteed side effect, and it seems sensitive to a whole lot of balances being right, the main one being the number of candidates that will be selected in any discrete election.

    Proportionality of first preferences isn't guaranteed, but if the electorates are large enough (five or so MPs is generally considered enough), then overall proportionality is quite likely. That said, proportionality of first preferences is also quite likely, particularly if above the line voting is allowed and is popular.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Proportionality of first preferences isn't guaranteed, but if the electorates are large enough (five or so MPs is generally considered enough), then overall proportionality is quite likely.

    I'm struggling to see how 5 MPs can be proportional. If there's more than 5 parties then some of them have to be excluded no matter how evenly the proportions are distributed. If 10 parties got roughly 10% each, then half of them would get 20% representation, and half would get 0%.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m struggling to see how 5 MPs can be proportional. If there’s more than 5 parties then some of them have to be excluded no matter how evenly the proportions are distributed.

    The general answer is that things tend to even out over the the whole country.

    Even with 3-5 MPs per electorate, Ireland does reasonably well on the proportional front. Large parties slightly over-represented, and small parties mostly slightly under-represented but reasonably close.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    That link really doesn't sell me. The Fine Gael Party had 36.1% of the first preference votes but got 45.8% of the seats?? That's like an FPP result. All of the top 3 parties have hugely distorted proportions. I'm aware that the first preference is not the only preference, and that I'm judging their system by MMP standards, but outcome pretty clearly shows that it's not a system that prioritizes national proportionality over the oddities of how electorates vote.

    The high number of independents is very interesting. 13 elected, with 11.8% of first preferences in total. So on average, somewhat below 1% each. But the Greens totally missing out on 1.8% throws that stat into stark relief.

    The general answer is that things tend to even out over the the whole country.

    I think it could work if our FPP electorate half were done that way, then a plurality of parties would be selected there, and our proportionalizing machine could sort out the actual proportions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • LIISA,

    Did you see this?
    http://tvnz.co.nz/tvnz-news-at-8/thursday-ow-video-2727581
    (it's the second story in Pt 1 - they don't give running times or story index)

    - apparently we're all a bit too dumb to understand MMP, so shouldn't we just make it easier? - like FPP! winners/losers - easy!
    - Nigel Roberts excellent as usual.

    Wellie • Since May 2008 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    The high number of independents is very interesting. 13 elected, with 11.8% of first preferences in total. So on average, somewhat below 1% each. But the Greens totally missing out on 1.8% throws that stat into stark relief.

    I'm not sure you can meaningfully group independents like that.

    But like I say, with 3 MP constituencies, you're likely to increase disproportionality. I'd be pushing for 4-7 in New Zealand, with 5 or 6 in most.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to LIISA,

    apparently we’re all a bit too dumb to understand MMP, so shouldn’t we just make it easier? – like FPP! winners/losers – easy!

    FPP isn't all that easy to understand. I've spoken to more than one person who remembers voting for that nice Mr Lange despite never having visited Mangere, let alone lived there.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    With a smaller 120 MP House, no overhang, and National and the Greens each dropping a seat, their seat share would be closer to its proper proportion.

    Yes, but only because of the wasted vote. Meanwhile, it increases the relative rewards for overhang, and thus encourages parties to pursue one.

    2. It’s not my solution. I’m fine with overhang, but I do note that others (e.g. Scotland, Wales, London(?)) don’t have overhang and are fine.

    Wales may not expand its parliament, but it certainly has overhang. Just look at their latest election results. And Scotland has the same problem. In their case, its due to a broken version of MMP, with regional proportionalisation and a poor balance between electorate and list seats.

    Getting rid of overhang wouldn’t break MMP, and if the majority of people want the feature gone, I’m happy to go along with the flow.

    This I can agree with. It won't break it, and its not worth dying in a ditch over (unlike the big parties efforts to get rid of the electorate lifeboat, which will break things significantly). But I don't regard it as especially desirable.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1625 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Single Transferable Vote (STV) is generally accepted to be a proportional system, in which minority views are properly represented.

    Though with a higher effective threshold than we have at present.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1625 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    The general answer is that things tend to even out over the the whole country.

    Doesn't that rely on parties having stronger support in some areas?

    If a party got 30% in one 5 seat electorate, that would give them one or two seats. If they got 15% everywhere, they'd get nothing.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4361 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    But like I say, with 3 MP constituencies, you're likely to increase disproportionality. I'd be pushing for 4-7 in New Zealand, with 5 or 6 in most.

    That would obviously be better. If it were 2, it would be identical to FPP. The further from 2, the less like FPP, and the more like MMP. Personally, since we've already got MMP, and it's already the proportionality that STV is aiming for, I really can't see the point. All voting signals that don't elect a candidate in your electorate are 100% wasted. They don't carry to any national count. If they did, it might actually have advantages over MMP.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    its not worth dying in a ditch over (unlike the big parties efforts to get rid of the electorate lifeboat, which will break things significantly)

    I used to be a strong supporter of the lifeboat. The arguments usually arrayed against it are pretty easily dismissed (i.e. it's not unfair that 85,496 ACT voters are represented in Parliament).

    But then the argument was put a different way: If I believe in one person one vote, all votes of equal value, why do I support a system whereby voters who live in Tauranga, or Epsom get to decide who five MPs will be, but voters in other electorates get to decide only one? Giving some voters such disproportionate power based solely on where they live is as offensive to democratic principles as the role of safe seats and marginal seats under FPP.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    If a party got 30% in one 5 seat electorate, that would give them one or two seats. If they got 15% everywhere, they'd get nothing.

    Yes, that's what I see with the high independent count in the Irish elections. A local personality can get elected, but any viewpoint that has evenly distributed support outside of the top 3-4 parties will suffer badly. And the top 3-4 parties cream a big advantage - Graeme hasn't come back to me about why Fine Gael should be entitled to 27% (=(45.8/36.1)-100%) more seats than it got first preferences for.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    Graeme hasn’t come back to me about why Fine Gael should be entitled to 27% (=(45.8/36.1)-100%) more seats than it got first preferences for.

    If you believe that the first preference is the only important vote, and that proportionality with respect to the first preference is all important, then they shouldn't.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Giving some voters such disproportionate power based solely on where they live is as offensive to democratic principles as the role of safe seats and marginal seats under FPP.

    Yes, that's the whole point of the national proportionalizing (can't think of a better word). The threshold has always been a bad aspect of MMP something only the big parties could possibly want, because it gives them the ability to make or break the small parties, just by throwing electorates their way. It also encourages personality cults, which in turn end up giving the system a bad name. Winston IS NZ First, regardless of what any of the other people in NZ First feel about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I'd actually favour removing coattailing and having a threshold of the votes needed to elect 2 or 3 MPs.

    Reason: it takes more than one to be a party. If somebody (like Dunne or Anderton) can get support in one electorate, then they can be an independent MP, but to be treated as an actual party, they should attract more substantial nationwide support.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4361 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    If you believe that the first preference is the only important vote, and that proportionality with respect to the first preference is all important, then they shouldn't.

    Yes, this is true. It's not the only condition for considering it suboptimal, though. What I really don't like about it is the way the electorate boundaries matter. Gerrymandering raises its ugly head again. But because the proportionality is so bloody mysterious, any disturbances caused by gerrymandering can easily be explained away by the mysteries of runoff, and the hand waving of "well it all evens out across the country". Which was pretty much an excuse for FPP in the old days, when parties actually lost the popular vote count but won the election - it all evens out over time.

    I don't want it to even out mysteriously. I want it to even out directly. When I buy something in a shop I don't want my change to be a random handful of coins that's probably near the right amount, I want the actual change counted out, because sometimes I really need that last dollar.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    Have you not noticed Swedish Rounding?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4361 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Have you not noticed Swedish Rounding?

    Who stars in it?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • steve black,

    Just two observations…

    I was shocked when I saw a voting paper in Australia. They required you to rank every candidate from 1..N with no duplications, no rankings left out, and the full ranking from 1..N. Make the slightest error and your vote is wasted. You can't just go 1,2,3 and leave the rest out. If one cares about vote wastage in FPP then it seems to me one ought to care about vote wastage due to the complexity of the task of ranking. Bear in mind that there are mathematical algorithms which don’t require every candidate to be ranked, can handle gaps in the rankings, and probably (I can’t remember exactly) equal rankings. I don’t like putting the onus on the voter when the computer can sort it out afterwards.

    And the solution in the case of the Australian ballot I saw worried me even more. They have the ballot paper divided into two sections. You can either tick a “vote whatever National wants” or “vote whatever Labor wants” single box and that gives all your votes (and preferences) to be used in whatever back room deals (they may no longer be smoke filled) are done. This gives even more power to political parties and less power to individuals. If you think we have problems with party lists which are not constructed in a democratic fashion, imagine what happens when ACT gets to do back room deals with National regarding inter list preference issues.

    I’m in favour of a voting and selection system which gives more power to individuals and less power to parties. I’m in favour of a voting system which is as proportional as can be. What to do?

    And thank you for keeping an eye on things Graeme.

    sunny mt albert • Since Jan 2007 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to steve black,

    I was shocked when I saw a voting paper in Australia. They required you to rank every candidate from 1..N with no duplications, no rankings left out, and the full ranking from 1..N. Make the slightest error and your vote is wasted. You can’t just go 1,2,3 and leave the rest out.
    ...
    And the solution in the case of the Australian ballot I saw worried me even more. They have the ballot paper divided into two sections. You can either tick a “vote whatever National wants” or “vote whatever Labor wants” single box and that gives all your votes (and preferences) to be used in whatever back room deals (they may no longer be smoke filled) are done. This gives even more power to political parties and less power to individuals.

    1. We would not require an exhaustive ballot in New Zealand under either PV, or STV.

    2. We would allow an "above the line" vote, where you can adopt a party's preference. I would expect that parties would have to announce these in advance. I would certainly be pushing for that if STV or PV were to top the second question.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to steve black,

    I’m in favour of a voting and selection system which gives more power to individuals and less power to parties. I’m in favour of a voting system which is as proportional as can be. What to do?

    If that's your view, vote for keep MMP on the first question, vote for STV on the second and if keep MMP wins then make a submission to the independent review on MMP and push for open lists.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    Who stars in it?

    Bloody Hugh Grant, I imagine

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16277 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Keir, I haven't heard or seen any definitive explanations or insider reports from what happened within the Coalition negotiations as yet, but so far as I know, it did not seem that the electoral reform discussions were a wide ranging, let us look at all the options discussion. If anyone in the current Tory leadership had read more than the title of the Jenkin's Commission prior to the discussions, I would be rather surprised.

    So unless reliable evidence comes to hand, I do not think we can label the AV referendum as a blatant power grab in the way that you have

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 869 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Certainly not a power grab by the Tories, of course, but I honestly can not see how the LDs were engaged in anything but an attempt to reform the system to give themselves more power. They may think they deserve it, and they may be right, but it was still an attempt to change the procedures in their favour. And given that, I can't see why the British public shouldn't have treated it as a referendum on the Liberal Democrats.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1263 posts Report Reply

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