Cracker by Damian Christie

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Cracker: Mix Your Members

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  • giovanni tiso,

    (Italy comes to mind, though Giovanni would know 10 times as much as I do - I think we discussed this some months ago and he said that it was stable in terms of not having frequent elections, but the makeup of the government frequently shifted as parties ended up in or out of governance agreements, I studied it a little in 1993 but not since)

    We had the same parties, they just bickered internally and forced endless early elections in the hope to gain more power within the ruling coalition. But Italy is not a good comparison, we had a very strong Communist Party and if it ever looked like they had whiff of winning an election, bombs would start going off. So it was Tories all the way! I trust nobody is going to shoot down a plane if it looks like Labour has a chance of turning the tables in two years.

    Although if the referendum question is asked artfully enough, who knows?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Combines the proportionality of MMP with a simple means for the voters to write the party list.

    Wouldn't it just put in candidates who ran in marginals?

    Which isn't really very useful.

    Admittedly I think all these attempts to muck around with the internal workings of political parties are daft: if you want a say in the National or the Labour or the Green list, you can join the party. If you won't join, then I see no reason why they should be forced to listen to you.

    In particular, why should we be able to keep out Roger Douglas? He's clearly the kind of guy Act voters want in parliament, and maybe the rest of us disagree, but so?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    I haven't made up my mind on the 'Baden-Wurttemberg' version of MMP, but it's seems worth looking into.

    Nevertheless, I think I'm pretty much in agreement with Keir over the disquiet over the "list" aspect to MMP. The list is one way in which the party indicates what sort of party they are; if you vote for that party, you vote for the type of party that makes that kind of list. If you don't like that they put Douglas, or whomever, on their list, maybe you shouldn't be supporting them.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    So far the only argument I've heard for the lowest practical threshold of 0.8% (unless we raise the number of MPs) that isn't "I don't like minorities having any say", has been "It gives stability".

    I'm surprised this is considered such a powerful argument. It's not like the instability means rioting in the streets or open revolution, it just means there would potentially be more elections, and only laws that were actually liked by the majority of the parliament could pass. To me that sounds like a good thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10630 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    soz, read "only argument against against the lowest practical threshold..."
    Doh

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10630 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I don't like minorities having any say

    Ben, that is an unfair reduction. My objection is twofold: that they have a disproportionate say, and that their numerical size is often correlated with their unpleasant beliefs. You may feel that one or both of those claims is factually untrue, but it is not the case that I object to minorities participating in principle.

    I am well aware that it is discriminatory to set any threshold -- I'm open to one lower than 5%, I simply want to set a considered compromise.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Nevertheless, I think I'm pretty much in agreement with Keir over the disquiet over the "list" aspect to MMP.

    Sorry, I never really got people who complained that list MPs are "undemocratic" because the list is supposedly drawn up in the proverbial smoky back room by a cabal of party hacks. As opposed to the US-style open primaries they use to select electorate candidates?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I'd lower the threshold (say 4%) and abolish the stupid electorate rule whereby the threshold magically disappears for your party. Rodney gets to bring Rodney and nobody else, ditto Anderton, and that way we also get rid of those silly shenanigans like Wellington central for Prebble back in the day when Bolger told National voters not to vote for the National candidate.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It's actually a Springsteen song...I don't usually associate his music with "hot-n-sexy"...but maybe that's because I'm a guy?

    Nah, it'd be because it's just a hot-n-sexy song. It's called 'Fire' for goodness sake.

    In that sense the Pointer Sisters' version is the definitive one, just like Patti Smith's 'Because the Night' is, more so than Bruce's.

    (Yes, alright, Patti co-wrote that with Springsteen. Don't be so nitpicky.)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Nah, it'd be because it's just a hot-n-sexy song. It's called 'Fire' for goodness sake.

    In that sense the Pointer Sisters' version is the definitive one, just like Patti Smith's 'Because the Night' is, more so than Bruce's.

    Probably showing my age here, but there's a great mix tape (or 'playlist' for the kids) of cover versions that kick the originals up to whole other place. I'd have to reserve a goodly number of slots for Grace Jones: Private Life (The Pretenders), Love Is The Drug (Roxy Music) and La Vie En Rose are slightly icy and fuck-sweat hot all at once.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Ben, that is an unfair reduction.

    I'll give you that in light of your follow up that it's disproportionate say for minorities you don't like. I wouldn't like that, nor do I like disproportionate say for majorities, and it wouldn't be how it works in MMP (because of the P). At least you've got some work to prove that it goes that way on average. The "holding to ransom" angle is frequently brought up, but it doesn't seem a particularly cogent point - if the coalition is really that finely balanced, then anyone can hold it to ransom, and they probably should, if it's over principles they believe in. That's about the only time they do get any say whatsoever, after all. Which goes to the point that the coalition leader needs to work harder in MMP to forge a decent deal. Clark broke new ground for NZ in this, I think. The "unthinkable" angle of just approaching the more moderate Opposition party really seems hard for people to grasp, but it's not impossible at all.

    and that their numerical size is often correlated with their unpleasant beliefs

    This seems to just be a reiteration of the point that they are in a minority, expressed a different way - using "unpleasant" as perhaps defined by what "most people would not like". A good example being gay sex. That gays should be allowed to do their thing has been considered an unpleasant belief many a time, probably on account of it being rarer than the other way.

    Now I'll give you that some beliefs that are in a minority are indeed highly unpleasant. Some beliefs that are in a majority are highly unpleasant too. The idea with the system is to give them power proportional to the number, rather than to ensure pleasant beliefs are held all round. I suggest that very little has been done in this thread yet to prove that under MMP they have disproportionate power.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10630 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    In a happy coincidence I recently read something relevant to this – “Electoral Systems: A Comparative Introduction” by David M. Farrell. It is a pretty quick read but worth it if you want a brief introduction to the research on the 4-5 (I forget) general classes of electoral system, alongside some conclusions about how each of them rate in terms of political stability, representation and effects on wider issues like economic performance.

    This might be a good place to start sharing ideas for background reading or research for those of us who were not involved in the previous referendums or discussions.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1019 posts Report Reply

  • dcnbwz,

    my take. If it's mentioned then they're worried. As most major parties have been for quite a while.

    MMP is the best thing that's happened to nz for ages in terms of democracy. It's still been hijacked along the way, but it's way better than fpp.

    uk • Since Sep 2009 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    So far the only argument I've heard against the lowest practical threshold of 0.8% (unless we raise the number of MPs) that isn't "I don't like minorities having any say", has been "It gives stability".

    I'm surprised this is considered such a powerful argument.

    We have a party-based, representative democracy system. One of the advantages of that kind of system is that there can be some kind of stability and continuity in government. Our democracy is not just a way of making discrete decisions, but also of making long or medium term policy on things such as the environment, economy, foreign affairs etc. As David put it, we need “to make sure that an executive has a decent stab at implementing its policies and a decent chance of making them work.”
    Frequent elections, bickering and changing coalitions, fragmenting of parties etc are bad for that aspect of democracy. Stability isn’t the only important aspect, but it is important, and so concerns that removing the threshold would undermine that are certainly significant.

    I do think 5% seems unnecessarily high, however. So I’m in favour of maintaining a threshold, but a lower one.

    I'd lower the threshold (say 4%) and abolish the stupid electorate rule whereby the threshold magically disappears for your party. Rodney gets to bring Rodney and nobody else...

    I was also in favour of getting rid of the electorate rule, but apparently that results in every electorate seat leading to an overhang. Dropping the threshold to 2.5 to 3% would reduce the anomaly.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    ... "every electorate seat" won by a party that gets less than 5% of the vote would be an overhang, I meant.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    ... "every electorate seat" won by a party that gets less than 5% of the vote would be an overhang, I meant.

    There's no reason to draft a hypothetical electoral law like that. You could treat electorate seats won by parties not crossing the threshold the same as we currently treat seats won by independents (who don't create overhang).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    Seems good. So proportionality would be maintained over the remaining seats? I'm in favour then. But I'm still in favour of reducing the threshold.

    (Now, I've got beer to drink and rugby to watch.)

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Indeed. Any guesses on who the local session singers are?

    Probably the Yandall Sisters. They were on just about everything, back then.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Steve, you go a little further here with why stability is so important that it requires dropping proportionality for minorities (under the threshold, whatever that is). You say the stability provided by a threshold leads to a chance for parties to implement their policies and make them work, and this is supported by the claim that frequent elections and other interparty wrangling make it harder to implement policy and make it work.

    But my response to that is that the reason for most of these collapses is shitty policy, not "too much democracy". The extra democracy just helps to point out how shitty so much policy is, that it runs roughshod over the interests of the minorities, and if in doing so it makes the coalition fragile, then it is actually not something that has majority support after all.

    Which goes to the idea that policy should be worked out in much greater detail, over a longer period of time, in cases where it is controversial, rather than the more established and time-honored Kiwi method of "ramming it through".

    I will agree on this though - NZers generally, and NZ politicians in particular, may not be ready for full proportionality. We may just be a nation of rammers-through, who really don't have a taste for working hard on seeking broad support for ideas, however long that might take. As I recall the joke being over in Ozzie when I was there in the 90s, that NZers "like the taste of the whip".

    I, however, do not like the taste of the whip, and will continue to try advocating the idea of the carrot for minorities instead.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10630 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    I'm not concerned at our readiness for "full proportionality" in itself. I'm purely interested in the point - made by others here and that I'm taking for granted - that overseas experience demonstrates more instability with low/no threshold. If that is not the case, then I'm all for removing the threshold altogether. (I am not swayed by the "keeping out extremists" angle at all.) But if that is the case, then it would seem it is not merely a matter of shitty policy, or the character of the nation.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    "Probably the Yandall Sisters. They were on just about everything, back then."

    That was my guess too....for much the same reason... I just didnt pipe up because I knew I mis-remembered the name.... "Randell Sisters" was sticking in my mind, but I knew it was wrong...

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

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