Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Up to 11

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    p.s. how cool is it that the star ranking on the IMDB page for This is Spinal Tap goes up to 11?

    p.p.s. I realise I stated that ACT's 85,000 votes was enough for 5 seats, and New Zealand First's 95,000 votes were also enough for 5 seats. First, they were kinda close. Second, had New Zealand First made it into Parliament (e.g. no threshold, or Winston winning an electorate) ACT would have dropped to four seats.

    Also, what nomenclature do people prefer:

    one seat exception
    single seat exemption
    one seat threshold
    single seat rule

    etc.

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

  • peteremcc,

    The problem is that changing the rules changes incentives.

    ACT went for an electorate, and sacrificed money and effort that would have gone towards getting party votes to do so. Without the 1 seat rule they would have gone fully for 5% and may or may not have got it.

    NZ First went for 5% because they knew they couldn’t win a seat. But if they had gone for a seat, they probably would have got fewer party votes than ACT.

    Parties play by the rules they’re given.

    There’s only really two practical solutions:

    1) Get rid of the thresholds entirely (5% and seat), and let anyone that gets 1% of the vote have 1% of the seats.

    2) Get rid of electorates entirely. The only thing they provide is regional representation for people, which is silly in a system designed to represent people based on their political views. Just have a pure list-based election, let parties allocate their MPs to regions themselves, and devolve more power and responsibility to councils and councillors.

    Wellington • Since Aug 2009 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • peteremcc,

    Oh, and the one seat exemption wasn't designed to counter the relatively high threshold.

    The original intent of the two thresholds was that it was decided that the dividing line for a party to be represented in parliament should be that EITHER they were relatively popular around the country OR particularly popular in one area.

    This may be a hang over from larger countries that often have parties that represent particular regional interests and aren't popular across a whole nation, but from memory that was where the thinking lay.

    Wellington • Since Aug 2009 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    I’m happy with whatever term you like, I call it the “single electorate override” because it makes a nonsense of the justifications for the 5% requirement. As you have pointed out. I think any party with enough votes to get seats should get them. Isn’t that the whole point of representative democracy?

    I’m undecided about allowing parties under that threshold to form coalitions in order to get over it. I think it would have some benefits in that it reduces the number of discarded votes and could be very funny (because it would encourage strange bed-partners). It would also reduce the “free extra seat to the most popular party” effect that we get now (not strictly the case, but I believe that’s the more likely outcome). The flip side is that it would probably not produce much benefit other than entertainment.

    (to be clear, I'm talking about the implicit "must have a whole MP" rule, not the 5% idiocy. So two parties each having half of 1/120'th the vote could form a coalition and thus gain a single MP between them)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to peteremcc,

    1) Get rid of the thresholds entirely (5% and seat), and let anyone that gets 1% of the vote have 1% of the seats.

    Two words: Weimar Republic. Or, Parlamento Italiano.

    Another amendment that has been proposed is to prevent MPs from sub-5% parties 'coat-tailing' on an electorate MP, which would probably make more sense.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4058 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Where everyone knows your name...

    Also, what nomenclature do people prefer:
    one seat exception... etc.

    Hmmmm...

    Musical Chairs?
    (played with firm stools...)

    The Castaways?
    (a game of throwns...)

    Ticked off?
    (killed on a pedestrian crossing...)

    The Bullshit Ballot?
    (keeps em on their toes...)

    Bums Rush...
    (in memory of the Bulgar vote men)

    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • Leopold,

    Puzzled by constant reference to Italian Parliament as the bogeyman. Their parliament may be fractured, but their society and general governance seems to be as stable as any other in the EU

    Since Jan 2007 • 145 posts Report Reply

  • Hans Versluys,

    One person, one vote of equal value should be the basis of our representative democracy. List votes only (with vote opportunity to vote for candidates on that list) ensure this. 0.8% of the vote should get you a seat.
    It's a missed opportunity that the referendum doesn't offer a more proporttional system to run against MMP, only less proportional ones are offered.
    One advantage of PPR (Proper Proportional Representation) is that there will be no longer any need for separate Maori seats.
    As an illustration, here is the 2008 result under PPR (part vote percentage multiplied by 1.2 to yield seat result - difference with MMP resullt in brackets):
    National: 44.93% = 53.92 seats = 54 (-4)
    Labour: 33.99% = 40.80 seats = 41 (-2)
    Green: 6.72% = 8.06 seats = 8 (-1)
    ACT: 3.65% = 4.38 seats = 4 (-1)
    Maori Party: 2.39% = 2.87 seats = 3 (-2)
    Progressive: 0.91% = 1.09 seats = 1 (-)
    NZ First: 4.07% = 4.88 seats = 5 (+5)
    United Future: 0.87% = 1.04 seats = 1 (-)

    Auckland • Since Jul 2011 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Hans Versluys, in reply to DeepRed,

    One word: Knesset

    Auckland • Since Jul 2011 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    One of the arguments for the 5% threshold is that it keeps extremist parties supported by a small minority of voters out of Parliament. The threshold is also said to stop our party system fracturing into too many small parties such that governmental stability is threatened, and that a party with just one or two MPs (which we’d get with no threshold) can’t be an effective voice in Parliament

    This is really only an issue, imho, because we're all still so hung up on a polarised bipartisan FPP world that there's no way on Earth our two largest political parties could get it through some thick skulls to consider formally working together, even though historically they're comparably close on many issues, given how they're both perpetually vying for swing voters. It's so important to put on a show of how absolutely different they are that elections and chances in government will be sacrificed for it.

    People fret about whether small parties like the Greens might go with National instead of Labour, or more realistically whether the Maori Party or NZ First or whatever might go with National or Labour, but the concept that Labour might ever formally partner with National in a major way is so preposterous and against the accepted political morals on all sides that not even those in the major parties would consider it.

    Granted it'd probably be the death of one or both of the two large parties to work with "the enemy", but if MMP was working from a clean slate with no psychological baggage from previous systems and an expectation that people vote for what they want given multiple choices, rather than voting against what they don't want given two choices, you'd think it might be far more natural for the most popular parties to simply work together in a way that left any minor, extremist parties for dust. Wave goodbye to the tail-wagging-the-dog meme.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Hans Versluys,

    In Germany, that shining example for NZ on all matters MMP, has had two CDU/SPD coalitions in the past. They have not always been successful, as they may have spurred the growth of more ‘extreme’ parties on both left and right to compensate for the lack of political choice.
    As an aside, in that shiny city on the democratic hill, the USA, I’m always astonished that while you have a zillion burger options at the fast food joint but the burghers can only (realistically) choose between two party options. Land of plenty and the free?

    Auckland • Since Jul 2011 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    The 5% itself can vary from election to election as the votes cast change due to population and turnout.
    What about a fixed amount of 75,000 votes or even the number of enrolled voters of the smallest ( general ) seat which is roughly 45,000. Of course you dont need 45000 votes to win a seat , just a plurality

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 204 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Hans Versluys,

    As an aside, in that shiny city on the democratic hill, the USA, I’m always astonished that while you have a zillion burger options at the fast food joint but the burghers can only (realistically) choose between two party options. Land of plenty and the free?

    That's FPP - it focuses on broad church parties.

    But you don't realistically have two options. The Republican Party of John McCain is different from the Republican Party of George Bush and different again from the Party of Perry/Bachman/Cain/Huntsman/Romney/Palin/whoever.

    And primaries and the like happen for every major office. Think of the final election as the run-off. When you get to that election, you're deciding between which of the top two candidates who are left you want, but the contest of ideas has already happened, and unlike in New Zealand, it has happened in public. So in the 2010 congressional mid-term elections, the tea party had already defeated a number of incumbent Republican representatives and senators in primary contests, and the same can happen within the democratic party.

    You can look at the New Zealand elections in a similar way. This year, you have two choices: a National-led government, or a Labour-led one, the votes you cast merely decide the make-up of those governments. Does the National government have support from free-market ACT MPs? Which ones and how many? Does the Labour government rely on a strong contingent of Green MPs, or a smaller contingent of them with conservative New Zealand First MPs as well?

    Is it a Republican Congress with a large number of foreign policy hawks, or is it more focused on small government conservatives?

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

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    p.s. how cool is it that the star ranking on the IMDB page for This is Spinal Tap goes up to 11?

    To be pedantic it still only goes up to 10, but it's out of 11

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2031 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to peteremcc,

    Oh, and the one seat exemption wasn’t designed to counter the relatively high threshold.

    I know. But that's still why I liked it.

    That said, please look through the Report of the Royal Commission on the Electoral Commission and devine from it their rationale. It's been a while since I've read the whole thing, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't give a reason.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to DeepRed,

    Another amendment that has been proposed is to prevent MPs from sub-5% parties ‘coat-tailing’ on an electorate MP, which would probably make more sense.

    Well, that is what the post was about...

    I will note, that even having changed my mind on this matter, when it comes up for debate I still find myself making the arguments in favour of coat-tailing, because the arguments that are arrayed against it are generally ones I disagree with.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to peteremcc,

    There’s only really two practical solutions:

    1) Get rid of the thresholds entirely (5% and seat), and let anyone that gets 1% of the vote have 1% of the seats.

    2) Get rid of electorates entirely. The only thing they provide is regional representation for people, which is silly in a system designed to represent people based on their political views. Just have a pure list-based election, let parties allocate their MPs to regions themselves, and devolve more power and responsibility to councils and councillors.

    If you can only think of two alternatives, you're not trying very hard :-)

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

  • Matthew Whitehead,

    I think the threshold has some small use, but mostly because the Sainte-lague method we use to allocate seats is incredibly generous to very small parties. If we got rid of it entirely, you could get into parliament with relatively few (ten thousand to twenty thousand) votes. What we should do instead is set the threshold to about 0.87%- or more clearly, the amount of the vote required to win a single seat outright. Any party that wins one hundred-and-twentieth of the vote deserves to have their list votes counted, and sit on their one select committee, and have parliament figure out how to accommodate their micro-party.

    I don't buy the argument that a high threshold helps keep extremists out of parliament- it's free speech, good media, (when we can get it) and critical thinking that will do that, and do you know what? We will HELP those processes out if we let the extremists into parliament, and let people see and hear exactly how bad they are. Radicals, bigots, theocrats, whoever, they all deserve to be shown that we have an inclusive system that they still can't function in, because the populace doesn't like them. And frankly, I worry that excluding parties like ACT will simply result in their largest supporters falling back to trying to corrupt our politicians or media instead of campaigning directly for votes, and that's not the kind of New Zealand I want to live in, even if I'd rather they were defeated and never came back to parliament. If enough people to earn a seat vote for a party, they should get it.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Pete Sime,

    Dunedin • Since Apr 2008 • 141 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Under the 2-vote system, I fail to see why the party of the person voted to represent the electorate should have it's national representation affected at all? The party vote covers that.
    And even if you're voting to have, say, Labour (rather than Arden) electorate representation that has no bearing on broader national representation? Which is probably a slighty different way of saying the same thing as the post...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1720 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Matthew Whitehead,

    If we got rid of it entirely, you could get into parliament with relatively few (ten thousand to twenty thousand) votes. What we should do instead is set the threshold to about 0.87%- or more clearly, the amount of the vote required to win a single seat outright.

    If we got rid of it entirely, just over 8000 party votes would have been needed during the first three MMP elections, and just over 9000 in the most recent two.

    1/120th is ~0.833%: in 2008 a party would have needed 19,539 party votes with a threshold at that level.

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

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Another amendment that has been proposed is to prevent MPs from sub-5% parties ‘coat-tailing’ on an electorate MP, which would probably make more sense.

    Well, that is what the post was about...

    I must say I was a little uncertain also that was what you meant by the end of your article. I thought you were saying: keep threshold, get rid of coat-tailing. But you might have meant: get rid of threshold, therefore coat-tailing not an issue.

    Idiot/Savant, if I recall correctly, has argued for the latter, with a default 1/120th 'natural' threshold.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Steve Parks,

    I must say I was a little uncertain also that was what you meant by the end of your article. I thought you were saying: keep threshold, get rid of coat-tailing. But you might have meant: get rid of threshold, therefore coat-tailing not an issue.

    I was saying get rid of the single seat exemption.

    I would also say get rid of (or lower) the threshold, but I support removing the one-seat rule irrespective of any change in the threshold.

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

  • Ian MacKay,

    It makes me nervous to think that should a review of MMP be earned, then whichever party is in power can get to cherry pick those factors which suit them. As in: "we have consulted widely, and carried out Select Committees but this is what we have decided." Sound familiar?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Ian MacKay,

    It makes me nervous to think that ... whichever party is in power can get to cherry pick those factors which suit them.

    Same is true even if there isn't a review, and is also true in respect of all the other systems. If New Zealanders choose "change" and STV in the referendum I suspect we'd be likely to see different systems designed in a National-Act government than a Labour-Green one.

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

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