MMP: This Time It's Binding

172 Responses

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  • Grassed Up,

    RB: "Sure. But the referendum can't do that. It'd be baby, bathwater, etc. That was the point of the question above."

    Might interest you to look at paragraph 88 of the Cabinet Paper from Justice outlining the options for a referendum ... "It may be useful during this public discussion [prior to the referendum] for the Government to indicate whether it would be willing to undertake a review of MMP to clarify and address these issues [with the existing system], if the public votes to retain MMP. This would assist voters to make an informed choice. It would also reduce the likelihood of change from MMP to an alternative voting system if most voters generally agree with MMP, subject to some amendments."

    Given that last sentence, watch what the Government does/does not do very closely!

    Since Nov 2008 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Dinah Dunavan,

    like Winston Peters or loathe him

    I miss him. The recklessly nostalgic part of me is thinking of giving NZ First my party vote next time just to get him back on my radio. ACT and the Maori party are capable of some seriously wtf media releases and comments but nothing beats Winston for obfuscation.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I find it funny that the press/National ... assumes that National will win the next two elections.

    They only have to win the next one. The presumptive 2014 referendum would be binding.

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

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I find it funny that the press/National ... assumes that National will win the next two elections.

    Just as the 2002 election was such a foregone conclusion to the media, that you could be forgiven for thinking they regarded the actual vote as an impertinent waste of their time. Democrazy, got to love it...

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

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Well -- like Winston Peters or loathe him -- some people would say that NZ First getting twice as many votes as Act but no seats was unfair.

    Others might say that ACT getting half as many votes & any seats other than Epsom was the unfair bit. Depends how you look at it I suppose.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Is it totally impossible that one of the options in the second referendum could be "the status quo"?

    One of the options in the second referendum will be the status quo. Anything else would require a supermajority in Parliament.

    I'm asking if the first referendum could guarantee change, or if the second, having laid out the options in more detail, could actually give the opportunity to reject change?

    The first cannot guarantee change, and no matter the result of the first, the second will provide an opportunity to reject all change.

    Also, is it impossible for one of the other options in the second referendum to be 'tinkered with MMP'?

    Impossible? No. It won't be written that way, but if our answer to the first of the questions in 2011 is "let's keep MMP, we don't want a binding referendum on replacing it" then I see no reason why the next Parliament - instead of drafting, for example, an Electoral (Single Transferable Vote) Amendment Bill for us to accept or reject in 2014 - couldn't draft an Electoral (Changes to MMP) Amendment Bill instead.

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

  • Phil Lyth,

    Ben Wilson: Any second referendum will be 'MMP against the favoured alternative.' From Simon Power's announcement:

    "The first referendum will ask two questions: the first will ask voters if they wish to change the voting system from MMP. The second will ask what alternative voting system they would prefer, from a list of options.
    . . .

    "If a majority of voters opt for a change from MMP, there will be a second referendum at the 2014 general election. This will be a contest between MMP and the alternative voting system that receives the most votes in the first referendum. It will be binding.

    "If a majority of voters prefer the alternative voting system to MMP, the 2017 general election will be held under the alternative voting system.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Others might say that ACT getting half as many votes & any seats other than Epsom was the unfair bit. Depends how you look at it I suppose.

    Indeed. It particularly depends on whether you take an expansive view of democracy or a narrow one.

    Pretty obviously, I'm in the former camp. Excluding people from our political system is undemocratic and unjust. While I hate Rodney / Winston / Tamaki / insert preferred hate figure here, their supporters have as much right to democratic representation as I do. The only limit to that representation should be the implementation detail of the size of parliament - not arbitrary restrictions designed to exclude, marginalise, and silence.

    People who think there should be greater restrictions on representation need to explain why they are deserving and others are not. Good luck with that - because to me it just looks like special pleading and an aristocratic claim to greater moral worth than others.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    This suggests an obvious political strategy: Protect MMP, de-elect National.

    The problem with that is that other parties are buying into the referendum. Labour and the Greens have come out in support. So it would be a dead rat to swallow to get, say 51% for change in 2011, and to not have a second referendum in 2014.

    The better solution is to campaign for a keep-MMP victory in 2011. 55% - 45% has a nice ring to it.

    While STV is theoretically appealling, MMP has proven to be robust and workable in practice. So let's keep it.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    I'm guessing the thread should stay live till nearly then …

    Section 92 Redux, anyone?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Family Fist's Bob McCoskrie on the referendum:

    “The question ‘do voters want to retain MMP’ is confusing because a voter wanting change in the Electoral system will have to vote NO,” says Bob McCoskrie. “It's a pretty weird referendum when yes means no and no means yes.”

    No, really?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Originally we needed a better way of selecting the parliament so they actually represented "us" and there were fewer of them. We ended up getting more MPs.

    Would one call the Labour Coalition a successful MMP government, I feel they did little more than stay in power for 9 years?

    In my view the success of MMP has to date been the influence the minor parties have had particularly NZ First and the Greens.

    MMP also provided in part the pathway for the Maori Party. Their influence along with that of Act will be interesting/scary/very Zen.

    I do not favour a return to FPP and the recreation of a one party parliament.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    The thread should remain up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Would one call the Labour Coalition a successful MMP government, I feel they did little more than stay in power for 9 years?

    Yes, I would. They achieved a large amount of their policy goals, constrained intheir final term by a lack of common ground with their support parties (and even then, they found somewhere they could keep working together). In the process, they also showed what a more consensual Parliament looked like. Wheras ATM we're seeing the opposite: a government with an easy majority ramming through whatever it wants under urgency - just like they did in the 80's.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    @Phil Lyth, thanks for that. I hadn't understood that the first referendum had 2 questions and the second was the enabler (just like last time). I had thought there were only 2 questions period.

    @Graeme Edgeler

    It won't be written that way,

    You're sure? I know it wasn't last time, that the changes were all radically different to FPP, but is there something that says it must be this way? MMP Redux just can't be one of the options?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Indeed. It particularly depends on whether you take an expansive view of democracy or a narrow one.

    Huh? No, it depends whether you value and how you define equity; it arguably isn't equitable that if my party vote goes to NZ First it is wasted but if it goes to Act it isn't, merely because of tactical voting by National supporters in Epsom.

    And I might yet agree that my vote should be wasted; it is rather that I feel that the Act voter's should also be. That seems intuitively fair even if it isn't proportional, and people can value fairness without being anti-democratic etc.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    People who think there should be greater restrictions on representation need to explain why they are deserving and others are not.

    It's not automatic that people who think there should be restrictions on representation are 'in' arguing against those that are 'out'. A Libertarian or an Alliance voter might argue for a threshold which would exclude their party depending on the votes.

    There will always be restrictions on representation. The number of MPs in parliament always sets a minimum barrier, of about 0.8%. Anyone who gets below that won't make it under any system you set up.

    I think most people would like to see the threshold reduced. I suspect NZ could handle if it went down to 'enough to get one MP', but like others, I'd be happy with 2 - 3%. The less minor parties the more stable a government I think. I'm happy to balance that with a couple of minor parties missing out as a result.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Good luck with that - because to me it just looks like special pleading and an aristocratic claim to greater moral worth than others.

    Well there is the old chestnut of "stability" that everyone always brings up. There might even be truth in it, but I don't think stability is worth quite so much as others do, when the price of it is marginalization of minorities.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    Originally we needed a better way of selecting the parliament so they actually represented "us" and there were fewer of them. We ended up getting more MPs.

    No, the first referendum was very clear that there would be 120 MPs in an MMP parliament. 60 electorate and 60 list. I have some recollection that the Commission recommended a 120 MP parliament even if FPP was retained, but that might not have made it to Govt proposals. And MMP still won.

    And that better (ie, more representative) representation was achieved is hard to argue against.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Keir: you are missing the point. This isn't about whether we treat people equitably (equals "equally shittly"), its about whether we treat them equally and give everyone an equal democratic voice.

    Yes, the ACT - NZ First outcome is inequitable. But that's not the question - the question is what to do about it. And here it boils down to democracy: do we respond by counting people in or out? I'm for giving people a voice. But that's because I recognise that unless I do, I have no moral basis for demanding a voice for myself.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    MMP Redux just can't be one of the options?

    Strikes me that this would be like (or worse, perceived to be like) those 1980s/1990s one day cricket tournaments that used to happen in Aussie (have those died away?): the host nation would get to field two teams, Australia and Australia A. That combined with various other tactics, eg the scheduling so only the visiting nations playing on consecutive days, meant everything was rigged for the Aussies.

    So don't think MMP Redux would fly as an option.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    It's not automatic that people who think there should be restrictions on representation are 'in' arguing against those that are 'out'.

    No. But it seems to be the most common position in practice.

    There will always be restrictions on representation. The number of MPs in parliament always sets a minimum barrier, of about 0.8%. Anyone who gets below that won't make it under any system you set up.

    Indeed, and I explicitly acknowledge that. But people aren't arguing about that - they're arguing that there should be restrictions above and beyond those imposed by the size of Parliament. And again, I think the onus is on those arguing for such limits to justify them, and say why people (and almost always people other than themselves) should be silenced.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I think most people would like to see the threshold reduced.

    Nope -- if you think its "unfair", you do away with it entirely and learn to live with the prospect of Kyle Chapman and Brian The Bish having direct influence over your life or leave it alone. It seems to me that just tinkering with it is trying to have a bob each way and as my Nan nused to say the only place you can do that is at the races.

    Well there is the old chestnut of "stability" that everyone always brings up. There might even be truth in it, but I don't think stability is worth quite so much as others do, when the price of it is marginalization of minorities.

    Serious question, Ben: What exactly do you mean by "marginalization of minorities"? I've also got some bones to pick with the idea of a 'wasted' vote -- just because there have been precisely two occasions on which my electorate vote was cast for the person who ended up winning (and even then, I had to move literally 100 meters inside an electorate that last elected a Labour MP for one term in 1946) I don't think it was wasted.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    You're sure? I know it wasn't last time, that the changes were all radically different to FPP, but is there something that says it must be this way? MMP Redux just can't be one of the options?

    Am I sure the bill introduced by the government to set up their 2011 referendum won't have MMP redux as as option in its second question? Yes.

    Does it have to be done this way? No.

    Could the select committee looking into the 2011 referendum bill recommend changes so a different MMP system was an option? Yes.

    And would that be a perfectly valid way to hold a vote on our electoral system? Yes. I just don't see it happening.

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

  • Idiot Savant,

    Well there is the old chestnut of "stability" that everyone always brings up.

    Yes - including the Royal Commission. But they were writing in a two-party era, where change seemed frightening. Having actually experienced six-party politics, and even ten-party politics briefly, I don't think we have anything to fear. Parties simply have to talk to one another, that's all. Again, foreign thinking to big-party supporters who see minor parties as an impediment to ramming through their programme - but that attitude is why we changed in the first place.

    We've seen that governments can get confidence and supply quite easily despite wild differences with support parties. We've seen that they can govern effectively, and formulate and enact a policy programme despite those differences. We've seen that they can survive party breakups and changes of allegiance. Contrary to initial fears, we haven't seen frequent collapses or Israeli-style insanity. Our political culture does not swing that way; parties know we expect them to cooperate and keep their deals, and that we will punish Winston-style shenannigans.

    MMP has given us stable government. And lowering the threshold and letting our democracy expand to its full potential won't change that.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

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