Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Council Elections: STV Q&A

125 Responses

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  • Steven Peters, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    On second thoughts, a ‘four seat threshold’ equates to a little under a 3% party vote threshold. Would this adequately compensate small parties for the loss of the one seat electorate threshold? – maybe not. They may want lower one, so could we have a three seat threshold, as you suggest. Maybe it is a case of ‘Yes we can’.
    But who would oppose such a move, but agree to a four seat threshold (3% of the party vote), or perhaps not go any lower than a five seat threshold (3.75% approx)?

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Steven Peters,

    It's interesting isn't it. Talking about a 3 or 4 seat threshold seems eminently reasonable. It's only when you convert to percentages that you think whoa, that might be a bit small. But I think that's because you automatically compare it to the current, and EC recommended percentages, which, IMhO are way too high. No party is effective unless it has 6 MPs ? Really ?

    Talking about number of seats is much preferable in my opinion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    Yes, well put. If we had a ‘five seat threshold’ (which sounds perfectly reasonable) this translates to roughly 3.7% of the party vote. Yet this would be ‘unreasonably’ low for the Electoral Commission, who would not go below 4%. It was worried about too many parties in the Parliament – or ’fragmentation’ – and to few MP’s in a party for it to be able to function ‘effectively’ in the House. How would they know? Isn’t the role of a party to represent its constituents, not to meet the criteria for effectiveness according to the Electoral Commission (or anyone else, for that matter).

    Secondly, and correct me if I am wrong, under the current 5% threshold, theoretically there could be up to 20 parties in the House, at 4% up to 25, at 3% up to 33. The Parliament could become fragmented at their recommended 4%.

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Steven Peters,

    Yet this would be ‘unreasonably’ low for the Electoral Commission, who would not go below 4%.

    The Electoral Commission thought that anything lower than 3% would be unreasonably low.

    Secondly, and correct me if I am wrong, under the current 5% threshold, theoretically there could be up to 20 parties in the House, at 4% up to 25, at 3% up to 33. The Parliament could become fragmented at their recommended 4%.

    You are wrong. There could be 90 parties at 5%. 70 parties with electorate MPs, one party for each electorate, and 20 parties with list seats :-)

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

  • Steven Peters, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I can see who the lawyer is among us. As an aside, isn't it interesting how the word 'reasonably' (and its converse) is such a 'catch all' phrase, or 'knot', when in reality it requires thorough and precise unpicking. To the majority of parties in the house, the EC's proposed threshold to enter parliament, 4% and abolition of the one seat exemption,. was also 'unreasonable'. A close look at the public submissions on this issue, using the ECs own graph, shows 4% is also unreasonable, in my view.
    .
    Thanks for enlightening me on the number of parties point. The EC should have qualified their pv threshold by saying it was reasonable assuming the status quo party system and electoral seat outcomes, or close to it. Its good to know someone is looking after the status quo - but should they be doing it?

    Currently, electoral seats are divided between national and labour using first past the post. However, for the sake of argument, I was making the assumption that the party vote, and electorates, would be spread evenly between parties. But correct me if I am wrong :)

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    I have spent some time thinking about how people could vote “in tiers”, as you would like to do, and have concluded there is only one way of doing it. Tim McKenzie suggested (in response to you in 2010) that a “Condorcet method, …, could cope”, but there would still be the problem of identifying and extracting the seven individual *winners* (in DHB elections at-large) from the various tiers of candidates, bearing in mind we would all have our own idea as to who should be in our first, second, third, etc., tiers. (The tier of candidates whom you consider would be elected only “over [your] dead body” might well be the candidates *I* would include in my “yes” tier.)

    Also, Condorcet methods fail the later-no-harm criterion – the property whereby later preferences cannot harm earlier preferences. With STV, a later preference can never harm (or help, for that matter) the electoral prospects of a candidate already listed, because the later preferences on a voting document are not even considered until the fates of all the earlier-preference candidates have been decided.

    The only way of doing it, and which would be an ideal solution for you, particularly under NZ STV (which I won’t take up space explaining here), would be to provide the ability for voters to express “equality of preferences”. With this facility, you could create your own tiers of candidates by voting, say, like this—

    A 1, B 1, C 1, D 1

    E 2, F 2, G 2, H 2, J 2, K 2

    L 3, M 3, N 3, P 3, Q 3, R 3

    and, if you really dislike a particular candidate,

    S 4

    Candidates A to D would each be credited with 0.25 of a vote. If A is the first to be elected or excluded, the 0.25 is transferred at reduced or full value to the next preferences – which of course are B, C and D, and not E (… K). As stated above, the vote does not transfer to E … K until the fates of A, B, C *and* D have been decided, as either elected or excluded. Should the vote eventually be transferred to E … K, its full or reduced value would be shared equally between candidates E to K. The same applies should the vote eventually be transferred beyond K, to L … R.

    Not only would this solve your dilemma, and greatly reduce the chances of you “doing [your] head in” (as you said three years ago), it would also be of benefit, not so much for voters who are undecided between their top preferences, but for voters who want to put certain candidates as their bottom preferences, below a whole lot of candidates whom they do not know much about, but for whom being able to give equality of preference would be ideal. Of course, you would still have to read the booklet containing the candidates’ statements, to sort them into your desired tiers.

    Unfortunately, while I have an NZ STV computer program that includes an equality of preference facility (and that is ideal for private elections), the likelihood of the NZ STV calculator used for public elections being re-programmed to include an EQP facility is somewhat remote, I should think.

    With regard to the task of ranking candidates in order of preference, I note the 2010 DIA Local Authority Statistics booklet states the total number of DHB candidates, nationwide, over the last 12 years were 1,085 (2001), 520 (2004), 429 (2007) and 371 (2010). So, at a probable nationwide average of about 18> candidates per DHB this year, ranking some or most of the candidates in order of preference shouldn’t be too hard.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters,

    Following the Australian election, we have the emergence of so-called 'micro-parties', which will have a presence in the Australian parliament, and thereby be of political influence in the overall mix of voting power. This is a term I havent heard before, and I expect we could hear in the rhetoric in any debate concerning a reduction in the partyvote threshold here in NZ..
    How is it that micro parties are able to emerge in the Australian electoral system, and are they are symptom of disproportionality, rather than its opposite. Anyone care to comment? .

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd, in reply to Steven Peters,

    Australian Senate STV is not really true STV; it is Party PR, much like List PR, and MMP. For this reason, I have never paid much attention to it.

    Just so you know where I’m coming from, in my view, most forms of PR strengthen party power and weaken people power. ‘True’ STV (as used in Ireland, Northern Ireland and some local elections in NZ; for you, your local DHB) weakens party power and strengthens people power. For most forms of PR, “PR” is Party Representation. For PR by ‘true’ STV,
    “PR” is People Representation.

    The reason why Australian Senate STV is really just Party Representation, is because the system essentially forces voters (who are required by law to “turn out”) to vote ‘above the line’, where all they have to do is put a ‘1’ in the party box of the party, or group voting ticket, they support. About 95% of voters do this. The alternative is to rank-order every individual candidate (or nearly every candidate), ‘below the line’, in order of preference. When there can be more than 100 candidates standing for election, most voters opt for above-the-line
    This means if a particular candidate of party A, say A4, receives more below-the-line first preference votes than, say, A2 and / or A3, the flow of preferences will ensure that A2 and A3 will end up with more overall votes than A4. Voter-individualism is utterly crushed in favour of the candidate-order determined by the party hierarchies.

    As I have explained here previously, the leaders / prominent candidates of small parties can indeed be elected under STV. Under Australian Senate STV, when the lesser candidates of the main parties have been progressively eliminated, through lack of support, the flow of preferences will often eventually extend down to the minor / micro parties, with whom the main parties have transfer agreements. According to Wikipedia, at the election last Saturday, transfer agreements (and cross-transfer agreements between the minor / micro parties) appear to have resulted in micro parties Motoring Enthusiast and Sports (plus some others) gaining a Senate seat each, despite receiving record-low primary votes of 0.50% and 0.22%, respectively, in what were 6-seat contests where each of the winning candidates had to attain the quota of 14.29%!!

    So, put simply, that is how micro parties are “able to emerge in the Australian electoral system.” Is this a “symptom of disproportionality, rather than its opposite”? No, it is not. Despite polling poorly as ‘parties’, the individual candidates concerned each attained the required quota of votes in order to be elected. The fact they needed transfers from other parties (with whom they had transfer agreements) is neither here nor there.

    For the individual candidates in Australian Senate elections, regardless of which party they are standing for, it is clear that getting a high place on the party list, rather than being liked by the voters, is what matters. That is how party list systems work.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters,

    I am not sure what you mean by 'people power' - are you meaning that you would prefer the system is
    geared toward voters choosing candidates as individuals (and their beliefs) , rather than representatives of a party (and its beliefs). Short of banning political parties, how is this possible?

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd, in reply to Steven Peters,

    Yes, I do mean that, which is exactly why I advocate what, for the time being, I refer to as true-STV. Under true-STV, the voters choose which candidates a party puts up in any given multi-seat electorate will be elected.

    For example, if Labour put up David Cunliffe and Shane Jones in the same, say, three-seat electorate, where it was pretty certain that only one could win a seat, the Labour voters could choose for themselves, collectively, which one they preferred, rather than have that choice imposed on them by the Labour hierarchy, as happens under Australian Senate STV.

    In addition, one of those three seats could be filled by a genuine independent candidate (as often happens in Ireland). No need (or desire) to ban political parties (which do serve a very useful purpose in any modern-day democracy); just let the voters decide how they are to be represented, and by whom. Only true-STV gives voters (people) the power to do that, which is why the Establishment / political parties don't like it.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Wonder if the DomPost simply wants John Morrison as Wellington Mayor? His lips being disconnected from his mouth was reported in the Granny but not the Dom. (Hat tip WCC Watch)

    Morrison’s Showergate continues

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Oops, I meant, "lips being disconnected from his brain".

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters, in reply to Steve Todd,

    The thing is Steve, candidates are much of a muchness - it doesnt reallly matter who they put up, because voters want to see the Party they prefer holding the power strings in Parliament. Under MMP, if voters dont like the candidate their prefered party puts up in their electorate, they can vote for someone else, or not vote for anyone. They retain their prefered party vote choice, regardless of the local candidate (ie they are irrelevant).
    Would an open list party system under MMP tick your 'people power' box?

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    John Morrison

    Is an example of what's wrong with a "no party" system. If he was an overt National candidate (as opposed to a NACT supporter pretending to be independent) he'd be an embarrassment to the party organization (and probably would never have been adopted as a candidate).

    Why is it worse to have candidates who've been selected in a primary process by a parties membership* than ones who are just legends in their own minds?

    * Although party processes to select local council candidates, even in the Greens, leave a lot to be desired. I think it's mostly a case of finding a ward with no candidate, putting ones hand up and not being vehemently shouted down.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd, in reply to Steven Peters,

    Open-list MMP would be an improvement, but not by much. All you're doing then, is casting your party vote by voting for a particular (i.e. one) candidate of your party. Under such systems, the party votes for the party usually still ensure the leading candidates of the party get elected over the candidates who do well on personal votes.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Rich, local elections in NZ are not an example of a 'no party' system. If the political parties that operate at the national level, want to operate at the local level, there is nothing to stop them. If they vigorously joined the fray, STV would enable voters to decide for themselves whether they wanted to be represented on their local councils by overt party people, or by independents, or by a mixture of both. Surely that's better than simply imposing a party system on the people, as you would have it?

    By the same token, if the National Party in Wellington considered John Morrison to be unsuitable to represent / promote the centre-right / conservative / business interests in the city, there was nothing to prevent them from putting up a candidate against him.

    Under STV, whether in single-seat (mayoral) or multi-seat elections, the vote is not split, so, at the mayoral election next month, the centre-right voters could have decided for themselves which one they preferred, without fear of wasting their votes. That's democracy; that's real choice. In this regard, and assuming Celia and John will prove to be the two leading candidates, you watch the votes for Nicola Young flow at least 2 to 1 to John upon her exclusion from the count.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters, in reply to Steve Todd,

    So at the National level, how would STV work under our current 70 electorates, or would new electorates be required with a different population base? . How many MP's would be elected from each electorate, how many candidates could each party put forward in each electorate. Could we still have seperate Maori electorates?
    How would proportionality between parties be ensured? Would there still be a seperate party vote?

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    STV for national elections would require new multi-member electorates. The Royal Commission recommended there be electorates with 3-7 MPs (with 80% of electorates with 5 MPs). We could still have Maori electorates, probably 3 electing 4-5 MPs. There would not be a party vote. Proportionality of the parties of the candidates voters give their first preferences would probably slightly decrease.

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

  • Steve Todd, in reply to Steven Peters,

    Following on from Graeme’s reply, I played around with some figures a couple of years ago and worked out that if STV was being used to elect Parliament now (2008 and 2011), there would be something like 27 South Island MPs, 80 North Island MPs and 13 Maori electorate MPs.

    Based on the Royal Commission’s recommendation that the average district magnitude (DM) of the electorates should be 5, there would be 24 multi-member electorates. The 27 SI MPs could be elected from one 7-seat (Chch) electorate and four 5-seat electorates. The 80 NI MPs would likely be elected from 1 x 7-seat electorate (in Auckland), 14 x 5-seat electorates and 1 x 3-seat electorate. The 13 Maori electorate MPs would likely be elected from 2 x 5-seaters and 1 x 3-seater. The 3-seat electorate would take in the bottom third or so of the North Island and all of the South Island.

    The Royal Commission envisaged the separate Maori electoral roll would be discontinued, but that is not yet likely, even though STV would work best (for everyone) if the separate Maori seats were abolished. If they were abolished, there would likely be (today) 92 NI MPs and 28 SI MPs. The 92 NI MPs could be elected from 1 x 7-seat electorate and 17 x 5-seat electorates. The 28 SI MPs could be elected from 5 x 5-seat electorates and 1 x 3-seat electorate.

    In Ireland, the parties usually put up at least one candidate more than the number of seats they expect to win in any given constituency. Therefore, National and Labour would likely put up three candidates in a 5-seat electorate (four, if one party knows it will win three seats), and four candidates in a 7-seat electorate.

    STV (in Ireland) has been described as “candidate-centred but party-wrapped”. Whereas voters vote for individual candidates, they do so predominantly on a party basis. While near-precise party proportionality is by no means guaranteed, even in Ireland, where the district magnitude is only 3.86 (166 / 43)*, party proportionality is usually remarkably close. It cannot be as near-precise as in party list-based systems, if only because, under STV (in Ireland), proportionality is determined in 3-, 4- and 5-seat constituencies, whereas under MMP, proportionality is determined across a 120-seat nationwide constituency. The trade-off is, of course, that under STV, voters get to construct their own lists (by rank-ordering candidates both within and between the parties, and including independents in the mix), whereas under MMP, they have to accept the ordered lists the various parties present to them, then opt for one of those lists.

    * At the next election (expected in 2016), there will be 158 TDs (MPs) elected from 40 constituencies, giving an average DM of 3.95.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Steve Todd,

    The 3-seat electorate would take in the bottom third or so of the North Island and all of the South Island.

    Wow. Shows how distorted our 19th C system is.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Scott A,

    I love the "Health Board elections are stupid" comment in the original post in the context of politics and elections in the United States of America.

    Thank fuck, is all I can say really, that we don't live in a country where most every public post with legal responsibility is held by an elected candidate. What a mess...

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Steve Todd,

    That’s democracy; that’s real choice. In this regard, and assuming Celia and John will prove to be the two leading candidates, you watch the votes for Nicola Young flow at least 2 to 1 to John upon her exclusion from the count.

    Jack Yan is another to watch, he comes across as having floating voter appeal.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Why do all STV multi-seat electorates have odd numbers ? What's wrong with 4 or 6 seat electorates ?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    Why do all STV multi-seat electorates have odd numbers ? What’s wrong with 4 or 6 seat electorates ?

    Australian Senate Elections have states electing 6 Senators.

    And Wellington's Southern Ward elects two.

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

  • Steven Peters,

    Ireland has STV. We could have the North Ireland, and South Ireland, Eirrre.

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

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