Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Referendum Fact Check 4: The MMP Debate

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  • Paul Campbell,

    Thinking about it more I think that party lists are giant red herring - you can look at them before the election and decide if you like them - and if you're voting for a party you trust them and the list they produce, if you didn't vote for them then you don't have much interest in who they choose for their candidates (other than maybe sour grapes).

    The alternative is a separate US style primary vote ....

    On the other hand reading the above I realise that yes we should have STV in national elections, but only as part of the local representative vote in our MMP system - all the complaints about FPP apply to that too - my local representative might be elected to parliament with the backing of 1/3 an electorate's worth of votes while a list MMP is elected with a full electorate's worth - if anything a list MP is MORE representative even if he/she didn't get in as a local representative

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2611 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Winston Peter's isn't so much an argument for ending MMP as for introducing an upper voting age limit.

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

  • BenWilson,

    I'm really enjoying this series, Graeme. Very informative.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10646 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Wain, in reply to BenWilson,

    Ditto what Ben says... struggled to understand the STV bit as alluding to our cousins over the ditch (which makes me wonder how many Aussies get it too) but very good analysis.

    Alas, I doubt very, very much that most folks will think anywhere near as hard about the referendum - let alone their actual vote... which is where democracy is sadly far too representative all round IMHO. Who was it said the best argument against democracy was five minutes with the average voter, Churchill?

    Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Richard Wain,

    Who was it said the best argument against democracy was five minutes with the average voter, Churchill?

    Heh, that was a post war quote, after he got voted out. He never did get that guys like him are only of value when full scale war is unavoidable, or already happening, and at most other times he was a cold, ruthless barbarian. His life is practically a litany of deliberate attempts to block progress, almost all of them involving large scale violence.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10646 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    Hussar, Hussar…

    …and at most other times he was a cold, ruthless barbarian. His life is practically a litany of deliberate attempts to block progress, almost all of them involving large scale violence.

    Happy to let Gandhi starve to death he was a crushing Boer, indeed.
    But Churchill ‘Occupies History’ as he also:

    … assisted in passing the People’s Budget becoming President of the Budget League, an organisation set up in response to the opposition’s “Budget Protest League”. The budget included the introduction of new taxes on the wealthy to allow for the creation of new social welfare programmes. After the budget bill was sent to the Commons in 1909 and passed, it went to the House of Lords, where it was vetoed.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7902 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    He was a very complex character and shouldn't really be judged by the standards of the 21st century. ( I doubt many politicians of that era would show up well on that basis. Lloyd George was seen by the Nazis as a potential quisling, practically all labour movements had a clear racist bent, Asquith opposed universal suffrage, Attlee started work to make an atom bomb, etc).

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

  • merc,

    And our guy sells schools to pay for his power...or something.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Richard Wain,

    struggled to understand the STV bit as alluding to our cousins over the ditch (which makes me wonder how many Aussies get it too) but very good analysis.

    I really only included it because it meant I got to correct Nigel Roberts.

    In short, under STV you rank candidates.

    Under STV in New Zealand, you can rank as few as one, and as many more as you want.
    Under STV in Australia you have to rank everyone or else your vote is invalid. But they do let people make a couple of mistakes and still count.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Thinking about it more I think that party lists are giant red herring ... The alternative is a separate US style primary vote ….

    There are other alternatives. As I note, we could have open lists, where the people who are elected off the party list are those who got the most support indicated via ballot papers. Every party's list would be on the inside of the ballot box (or you could have read it previously) and you could indicate the number of your favourite list candidate of the party you were voting for and that would help push them up the list.

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

  • Hilary Stace,

    I listened to this debate and kept thinking. 'I wonder what Graeme would say', so it was a pity they didn't ask you to fact check on the spot. So thank you for your analysis.

    I think it is interesting that those who come from the least democratic parties complain about accountability on the party list. I had a friend standing for the LP list a few elections ago and it certainly was no jack up - just lots of meetings and speeches for those interested and every list spot was extensively haggled over. The other assumption is that electorate candidates are somehow more democratically selected. But that is an even harder process for someone who is talented and maybe a hard party worker, but not mainstream eg disabled or from an ethnic or other minority, or without the means to organise a large support group. And without intervention/affirmative action policies this has traditionally favoured white middle class men. I noticed that when the replacement for Simon Power was chosen recently, it was reported that John Key and Peter Goodfellow chose their personal favourite - which hardly seems an open democratic process.

    The other thing about that debate was realising how much I miss Michael Cullen's witty one liners.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I understand with compulsory voting, the Aussies regard anything from a tick instead of a cross to drawings of penii on the ballot paper as an "informal vote"?

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

  • merc,

    Compulsory voting = game changer.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    Lazy question. Are we forced to vote for one of the four if we want to retain MMP? Is our vote invalid if we do not choose one? Cant seem to find any information on this on the referendum site

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 208 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to BlairMacca,

    Schedule 1 of the Electoral Referendum Act specifies the form of the ballot paper. It explicitly says:

    You may vote in both Part A and Part B or you may vote in only Part A or only Part B.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BlairMacca,

    Lazy question. Are we forced to vote for one of the four if we want to retain MMP?

    No. You can vote in either question or both questions. Also, an invalid vote in one of the questions will not render a vote in the other question invalid as well.

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

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to BlairMacca,

    oh, and on the referendum site under the heading What will I be asked?, it says (bold emphasis added):

    There are two questions you will be asked. You can choose to answer both questions, or only the first one, or only the second one. You will be asked to tick the option you prefer.

    So a KeepMMP vote, with no alternate chosen, will be valid.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to merc,

    Compulsory voting = game changer.

    I'm not so sure. Academic opinion is divided. It seems likely to me that compulsory voting isn't beneficial so much to one side as it is to the incumbent. People who kinda think the government isn't too bad, but aren't big fans of it, are those who are less likely to vote, people who dislike a government, even if not vehemently, are more likely to vote. Governments tend to lose when the opposition gets its voters out and the government finds many of its voters stayed home. Compulsory voting would protect parties from some of the apathy that they sometimes experience at various stages of the election cycle.

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

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    So there's nothing to the received wisdom that sunny days favor Labour?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10646 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    So there’s nothing to the received wisdom that sunny days favor Labour?

    There could easily be something to that, but I suspect it's not major.

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

  • merc, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    That's a wad of assumptions there. Mainly for me I don't like the compulsory vote thing because I think the non-vote (must register to vote though) is also a vote.
    Besides the usual nastiness behind forcing people to vote for people they cannot countenance.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I reckon it comes from the UK, where walking 40 miles 'cross 't Pennines in't bare feet in't snow in order to vote might have been a deterrent. For the same reason 96 hour shifts down't pits were not allowed to span polling day.

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

  • Shane Riddle,

    I was at the debate. On the radio you miss the faces Cullen made while Richardson was speaking, how Cullen & Bolger whispered in seeming solidarity to one another while Richardson was talking, a lot, and anti MMP guy passing notes to Richardson.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Regarding Cullen and the 20%-with-no-seats-to-show-for-it call, I think he's confusing the NZ Party, which got 12% of the vote in 1984 but no seats, with Social Credit, who got 20% in 1981, but only held two seats. Both unthinkable in this post-FPP world, but as you point out, not the same thing.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    This detailed level of beautiful nitpickery has largely gone past me but certainly encouraged me to read up on the details of the systems offered so thank you for that...

    But the one thing that always gets me in these discussions is the "Winston chose the Government" line. No, a majority of Parliament (as elected by an incredibly proportional voting system) including Winston's MPs chose the Government. Just because the representatives of 40% of the population can't fathom the idea of working with the representatives of another 35% of the vote doesn't make the outcome Winston's fault.
    You want to lead a Government? Garner confidence and supply from >50% of a proportionally elected Parliament. If you've historically straight-jacketed yourself to a position where you won't engage the other "major" representative of the people and have to go to "minors" then that's your own choice.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

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