Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Infrequently asked questions

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  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I guess there’s an intermediate version that runs electorate candidates (who promise to resign asap) and an empty list

    Electorate resignations would just lead to by-elections. Perhaps just a list with 1 person on it who promises to resign. The 99 MP party had a list of two (and the Bill and Ben Party).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    well that would be the idea - if "no confidence" wins in an electorate election they would resign as soon as the election reached the point where there would have be a by-election (when the result is declared? when they are seated in parliament? I'm sure there's a correct point) - there would be by-elections until the other parties put up good enough candidates to win - of course being FPP electorates only need NC to get more votes than any other candidate rather than an absolute majority

    When I was a student at Canterbury in the mid 70s student association elections included a "No confidence" option - the first time it won a majority (but not 50%) there were law suits by the poor loser who actually won by persuading the court that NC needed 50%+1 to force a reelection (in my dim and fading memory I think the next runner up may have been a pig - it's a long time ago)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2181 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    student association elections included a "No confidence" option

    I believe Auckland did sometime in the 80s or 90s too. Very popular candidate.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • cctrfred,

    As another "surreptitious distortion", is there any issue with non-Maori nominating themselves on the Maori roll when the option comes up? I have wondered if this would be a way for non-Maori in general electorates with large majorities (most South Island electorates, for example) to then have the ability to influence parliament with their electorate vote for Te Tai Tonga, the most marginal of the Maori seats.

    Christchurch • Since May 2007 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    And finally, while it would cause disproportionality, it wouldn’t actually cause overhang (I’ll get to that later).

    How much later? It has been 3 days.

    I can't figure how a party with more MPs than its proportionality allows can do anything but cause an overhang.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    How much later? It has been 3 days.

    I can’t figure how a party with more MPs than its proportionality allows can do anything but cause an overhang.

    How much later? A couple of paragraphs: I got to it later in my post.

    An example: the Maori Party runs candidates in electorates, but doesn't submit a list (so isn't on the party vote side of the ballot). It wins 4 electorates. It keeps these 4 electorates. The other 66 electorates are each won by Labour or National.

    When the entitlement for lists is worked out, the Electoral Commission works out which parties 116 MPs should come from. National's and Labour's places are filled first by the people who won electorates, and then enough people from the list to take them up to the right number. All of the MPs for the Green Party come from the list. These 116 MPs from National, Labour and the Greens, (66 from electorates, and 50 from lists) and the four Maori Party MPs (from electorates) are the members of the Parliament. 120 total. No overhang.

    Now consider this scenario: the Maori Party runs candidates in electorates, and also submit a list (so isn't on the party vote side of the ballot). It wins 4 electorates. It keeps these 4 electorates. The other 66 electorates are each won by Labour or National.

    When the entitlement for lists is worked out, the Electoral Commission works out which parties 120 MPs should come from. National's and Labour's places are filled first by the people who won electorates, and then enough people from the list to take them up to the right number. All of the MPs for the Green Party come from the list. Two of the 120 MPs should come from the Maori Party. There are 118 MPs from National, Labour and the Greens, (66 from electorates, and 52 from lists) and the four Maori Party MPs (from electorates) are the members of the Parliament. 122 total. 2 Overhang.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • peteremcc, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    There is a currently sitting MP standing for ACT - just not on the list.

    Wellington • Since Aug 2009 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Okay, thanks. I hadn't thought of the proportional advantage of being explicitly electorate only, so ignored that section. Also such an explicitly devious strategy would, I think, put people off the party/parties like you say.

    However without being obvious, this is wrong:

    Because this isn’t Italy, and voters would punish them for it. I’d never vote for them again. I’d encourage everyone else to make the same promise. Second, if it did work without annoying everyone, then the other parties would do it at the next election and we’d basically get supplementary member.

    The Maori Party encourage voters to back their electorate candidates and place less importance on the party vote. I think it is a brilliant strategy that works well and will ensure that Maori Party remain king-makers until such time as the rest of the electorate catches up.

    It doesn't annoy me. It doesn't appear to annoy you either, because I've been reading your blogs for a while now and your condemnation of the Maori Party - not prominent.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    The Maori Party encourage voters to back their electorate candidates and place less importance on the party vote. I think it is a brilliant strategy that works well and will ensure that Maori Party remain king-makers until such time as the rest of the electorate catches up.

    I had a part-written piece I was going to finish and post when the Maori Party and Hone Harawira/Mana Party were in talks about an accommodation where Mana would not stand in the Maori seats in exchange for a deal in Te Tai Tokerau where they wouldn’t oppose Hone: Maori party electorate, Mana Party party vote.

    I was all prepared to talk about how appalling this was. And then it didn’t happen. So I didn’t end up getting all outraged and beagle-y.

    The Maori Party have always campaigned for the party vote. And have been annoyed about pundits telling people that a party vote for the Maori Party was wasted. The electorate vote is more important to them, yes, but that’s far short of a deliberate strategy of causing disproportionality.

    As for the suggestion that voters haven’t noticed, well, the Maori Party doesn’t do too well in the party vote, does it? What more can voters do :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The Maori Party have always campaigned for the party vote. And have been annoyed about pundits telling people that a party vote for the Maori Party was wasted. The electorate vote is more important to them, yes, but that’s far short of a deliberate strategy of causing disproportionality.

    In terms of amount of power, it does make sense to campaign for the party vote. If they win four electorates and all are overhang (ie, no candidates would qualify via party vote), they're 4 out of 124 MPs. If they win four electorates and win about 3% of the party vote, they're 4 out of 120 MPs.

    There may be some strategic reasons to let go of the party vote (like if you think national are going to get 61 MPs and therefore need your four because of the overhang), but difficult to judge.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    While it may be in the Māori Party's interests to campaign for party votes, their voters might do better to give them elsewhere. Electorate vote Māori gets more Māori Party MPs, and party vote Mana gets more Mana Party MPs, without incurring any opportunity cost relating to getting more Māori Party MPs.

    In this way, a Supplementary-Member-like Parliament could gradually emerge without any of the parties deliberately gaming the system. I don't think the voters even need to be aware that that's what they're doing.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    You could get rid of any such shenanigans by having a single-vote system where the party vote is allocated to the party of one's chosen candidate. I'm not sure of the arguments against, except that people seem to like their politics to be ego-driven.

    Anyways, I reckon that if a strategy isn't actually proscribed, it's fair game. Voters are entitled to decide they're being manipulated and not go along with it.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4471 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    You could get rid of any such shenanigans by having a single-vote system where the party vote is allocated to the party of one’s chosen candidate. I’m not sure of the arguments against, except that people seem to like their politics to be ego-driven.

    This is a possibility, although is more likely to be used with a supplementary member system. The usual argument against this goes something like: "why should a voter have to have no say in the local MP who represents them if they want to vote for a minor party overall?"

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    In terms of amount of power, it does make sense to campaign for the party vote. If they win four electorates and all are overhang (ie, no candidates would qualify via party vote), they're 4 out of 124 MPs. If they win four electorates and win about 3% of the party vote, they're 4 out of 120 MPs.

    The Maori Party are all about increasing the influence of Maori in politics. If the Maori electorates split their vote to elect a Maori Party electorate MP, then the Maori roll will always have proportionally more influence than the rest of NZ*.

    * except possibly those who live in Epsom and carry out a similar ploy.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    If the Maori electorates split their vote to elect a Maori Party electorate MP, then the Maori roll will always have proportionally more influence than the rest of NZ*.

    Maori Party voters split their vote considerably less than Green Party and ACT voters.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Maori Party voters split their vote considerably less than Green Party and ACT voters.

    When you say "Maori Party voters", do you mean people who cast their party vote for that party, or people who cast their electorate vote for a candidate from that party?

    I think Angus's point is that voters who split their vote and cause an overhang (by giving their electorate vote to the Māori Party candidate and their party vote to another party of their choice) are disproportionately represented in Parliament.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Not before we adopt STV, which is the only system where independents seriously have a chance of being elected in New Zealand.

    What if there was a party of independents? Such a party would have no policy, but would exist solely for the purpose of allowing independents to stand for all 120 seats in Parliament, not just the 70 geographical ones. The party list could be sorted according to each candidate's performance in an electorate in the previous election, with candidates who've never stood in an electorate before being randomly ordered at the bottom.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Tim McKenzie,

    When you say “Maori Party voters”, do you mean people who cast their party vote for that party, or people who cast their electorate vote for a candidate from that party?

    The same thing I'd mean if I said "Labour Party voters". Maori Party voters are people who vote for the Maori Party. People who vote for the Labour Party are Labour Party voters. In the Maori electorates, some Labour Party voters split their votes and choose a Maori Party candidate.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Maori Party voters split their vote considerably less than Green Party and ACT voters.

    That does make sense though. A Green electorate vote isn't going to get close this election, nor is an ACT one except in Epsom. So people who party vote those parties are more likely to give their electorate vote to the best of the Labour/National candidates, if they think it's a marginal electorate.

    I live in Dunedin North, so I'm going to reward the candidate I like the best with one meaningless vote while the Labour candidate storms home.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tim McKenzie,

    What if there was a party of independents?

    That's a leftfield idea, most creative. I think it wouldn't work, though, because independents would most likely object to the policy of other independents in a lot of cases. They would therefore not see anything that good about working hard to put people higher up the list than them into parliament and missing out themselves. The same would go for the voters. I might like some independent dude at #10, but if I really don't like someone from #1 to #9, then I'm not going to want them to get my vote.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8615 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    Unless the system were also changed to give voters power to re-rank lists.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Maori Party voters are people who vote for the Maori Party.

    In that case, I don't quite see the point of your response to Angus. He was talking about vote splitting by anyone other than "Maori Party voters" --- people who gave their electorate vote to a Māori Party candidate, and gave their party vote to another party. Or were you agreeing with him?

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    Unless the system were also changed to give voters power to re-rank lists.

    That seems like a really good idea, and not just for the independents (who I think a dropped threshold would serve much better). Perhaps you could rank your candidates in the party you chose to vote for, if you so chose, up to as many candidates as you can be bothered with.

    But personally, if we're tinkering with the electorate seat voting system, which is still FPP FFS. perhaps it could go to one of the other systems that gives proportionality a better go.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8615 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    I think allowing voters to rank lists would be great.

    You could actually do this online before the election, entering a voter id (into a secure electoral commission system) and interactively selecting your list ranking.

    After the election, rankings would be validated (you'd have to vote for the party you ranked in order to validate the ranking).

    (There are technical ways to ensure this doesn't reveal people's votes, even to the sysadmins).

    The rankings would then be aggregated - anyone who voted and didn't rank candidates would be assumed to have taken the parties recommended list.

    I do however reckon that most people would just take the default and hence it would all be slightly pointless. But it *would* provide a semblance of control.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4471 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    But it does also pose problems about freedom of association. The Party has a particular list that it endorses. It doesn't endorse other lists. Why should the Party have to campaign for a list it doesn't want?

    (Also problems in terms of representation of minorities, and the fact that it becomes a nationwide-at-large vote, which will inevitably benefit the famous.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1378 posts Report Reply

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