Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Election Fact Check #8: Electoral Law Consensus

17 Responses

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    So what was the last piece of electoral law enacted following substantial parliamentary opposition? Well that would be the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act, which received the Royal assent on 15 December 2010. And when did the House pass the Electoral (Finance Reform and Advance Voting) and Electoral Referendum Bills? 15 December 2010. That’s a rather short-lived period of hard-won agreement on electoral law consensus.

    You can probably guess how tempted I was to insert the phrase: “It’s the same day, David!”

    And in all it's glory, Hillary Calvert's third reading speech on the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill:

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

  • DeepRed,

    In addition to scrapping the coat-tailing exemption, changing the electorate seat system from FPP to a preferential system – though potentially confusing – would eliminate spoiler votes and reduce the need for marginal seat campaigning.

    There was mention in an old PA post about the furore in the Auckland local body elections – 2001 I think it was – between City Vision and the Green and Water Pressure Group blocs when the latter two broke an accord in Eden-Albert not to run spoiler candidates in marginal wards, and consequently these marginal wards went to CitRats loyal to John Banks.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4351 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I also think using “smuggling” was as unfortunate as it was (probably) carefully chosen. I’d also note the occasion for Goff’s wee brain fart – a certain cup of tea – has absolutely nothing to do with electoral law. The Greens could tacitly encourage their supporters in key marginals like New Plymouth, Waitakere and West Coast-Tasman to vote strategically for the Labour candidate. They’d be mad to do so (IMO & YMMV, of course), but there’s nothing “undemocratic” or illegitimate about doing so.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Darlington,

    Labour leader Phil Goff is calling for a law change to stop minor parties "smuggling" in MPs when they're "not entitled".

    Only a rep of one of the two main parties would have the gall to refer to minor parties "smuggling in" MPs in numbers proportional to the votes they received. The sooner these geriatric hangovers from FPP days are eradicated by retirement, the better.

    Since Nov 2006 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    's More of that Labour party entitlement complex, eh. But as it stands ACT's not going to be smuggling Brash in anyway. ACT voters don't seem to want him.

    Since Nov 2006 • 480 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to tussock,

    ACT voters don’t seem to want him.

    Well, Tussock, I could be graceless and point out that if current polling means anything a hell of a lot of Labour voters don’t want Phil to be Prime Minister – and a reasonable chunk want to being Helen back from Turtle Bay in chains. :)

    Would you find “ill-informed democracy concern-troll, in the hope that a cheap shot at an easy (and unpopular) target gets him some favorable press” be more agreeable to you?

    And here's another reality check: If National sheds ten points or so over the next two weeks (i.e. what happened to Labour in 2002) Phil might find that MP smuggling isn’t such a heinous crime against democracy after all. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    Graeme, rreat frisk of David Farrar

    Not a good idea for Goff to use the word "rort" which is defined
    "a financial impropriety, particularly relating to a government programme"

    When the loyal Labour Supporter Jim Anderton has been rorting us all with his so called seperate party leadership pay-outs, you know the party where when he goes the next best person to replace him is a real Labour person

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

  • Alex Coleman,

    I do think we should get rid of the threshold, and I'm therefore not happy about Goff's proposed fix, but I also think he's not too far wrong with his smuggling claim that everyone is high horsing about.

    From memory, and i'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but the exemption from the threshold for parties that win an electorate is designed to maintain proportianality. It's not some sort of admission that the 5% threshold isn't real, or doesn't matter. I don't like the threshold being so high, but it is there for some reason.

    There is little reason for National to be having cups of tea and talking about being 'not unhappy' about things except for the fact that it grants access to the exemption. It's like, to me, tax law. The deal does seem to go against the spirit of the threshold rule using an artificial deal in place simply to get an exemption to the general rule. And again, it's not a general rule that I like, but it is the one that's on the books.

    The Wigram example isn't really a good one, for reasons that plenty of people talk about. Banks, nor Hide before him, were to Epsom what Anderton was to Wigram. It certainly wasn't a widely believed idea that Labour could have taken the seat off Anderton at a canter if they just asked the voters for the seat.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 214 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    "If there's a Labour Government, we'll take that rort out the system. You'll have to get five percent to get more seats than simply the electorate seat that you win - that stops the rort."

    I'm not surprised that Labour would take this line, but it's a nail in their coffin for me. The high threshold already delivers a significant wasted vote, and could be argued to discourage a further significant percentage from voting at all because of lack of effective choice. I've never been the least bit convinced that it does any good at all to democracy in this country. If thresholds were eliminated, tactical voting would be virtually eliminated in this country. People would party vote for whomever they wanted, knowing that their vote counted for neither less, nor more than anyone else. Then the only wasted vote would be with the electorates which are still FPP style and waste huge proportions of the vote even still. If the way the electorate members were selected could be reformed to a more representative system (ie practically any other system than what we have) then the Labour/Nat stranglehold on those might melt away too.

    Of course that is the exact opposite of what Labour and National want. Both of them have always desperately struggled to keep their built-in advantages, and improvements that we have achieved have been very hard won.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8584 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    As Graeme said, there is a serious debate to be had around whether you need the threshold (with or without the electorate exemption) at all. Shame our frontrunners for New Zealand's Next Top Politician aren't interested.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    does my bum look big in this coalition

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16739 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    At the risk of sounding like a scratched CD, too many people in National and Labour need intensive grief counseling. Yeah, I understand why you're not willing to accept that FPP is dead and move on - it served you well for a long time. However fifteen years stuck on denial, anger and spasms of bargaining just isn't healthy.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Same goes for political media. Stop reporting poll results as if FPP still applies, you plonkers.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16739 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Sacha,

    Same goes for political media. Stop reporting poll results as if FPP still applies, you plonkers.

    Kind of. They talk about National being ahead of Labour, but they still show the overall seats of each party.

    One of the things I’d quite like about a change to FPP would be watching political journalists trying to explain how their polls translate into seats under FPP. They can understand MMP: votes translate into seats using the Electoral Commission’s on-line calculator, you need pol sci and stats degrees to even have a chance of understanding a nationwide poll under FPP.

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

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    watching political journalists trying to explain how their polls translate into seats under FPP

    They wouldn’t even try to do so, but would just look to find a new Malcolm MacKerras to talk to an electoral pendulum. Brian Easton used to do them, oh, 25 years ago from memory.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Would you find “ill-informed democracy concern-troll, in the hope that a cheap shot at an easy (and unpopular) target gets him some favorable press” be more agreeable to you?

    Oh definitely, I'm all for fairness and accuracy in reporting. One can hope it doesn't signify worse to come for the "how to fix MMP" questions though.

    ...

    The weird thing about FPP is they had such high turnouts, despite all the safe seats. I guess disinterested people weren't enrolled in the first place.

    Since Nov 2006 • 480 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I really have no idea what John Key is talking about, but I'm pretty sure he's wrong.

    I get that with him a bit.

    However fifteen years stuck on denial, anger and spasms of bargaining just isn't healthy.

    I prefer to say we're at 18 years, since that's when the vote was that actually got rid of the damn thing.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6201 posts Report Reply

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