MMP: This Time It's Binding

172 Responses

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  • LegBreak,

    Is a tweaked MMP likely to be one of the other options?

    I like MMP, and will vote for it again regardless of tweaks.

    I do support the referendum though; it was promised at the time that MMP was introduced, so needs to be followed through with as an act of good faith,

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Ben McNicoll,

    My dream scenario would be a hybrid STV & MMP system, similar to current MMP, but with no threshold, and STV used decide the electorate vote.

    Seems to me that this would combine the best elements of the better systems, STV being a good way to choose one of a number of candidates for a single position, and a party vote result translating into direct proportionality.

    Obviously the removal of the threshold may enable some overhangs...

    I'm not sure if this has ever been explored?

    Grey Lynn • Since May 2007 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I think that a threshold (say 4%) sets a minimum bar that is more likely to mean a substantial movement is required to get elected rather than single issue irritants, which I'm happy to put my hand up and say, should not in and of themselves justify representation in parliament.

    Then you are not a democrat. Sorry, but you're not. And language such as "single issue irritants" makes that crystal clear.

    Whether our Parliament consists of a few big, broad parties or many smaller, narrower ones is properly a decision for voters - not self-interested big parties.

    (Oh, and full disclosure here: James Caygill is the architect of Labour's current position).

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    And you're a fascist octopus I/S, all slimy and jack-booted.

    Seriously, would you believe that there is not in fact an obvious right answer with all the rest being horrible evil bad things that only horrible evil bad people would ever want to promote?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Can you wear boots on tentacles?

    I make no apologies for my harsh language. In a democracy, the people should rule. I think it is fair to say that some people in this thread are not interested in that, but rather in shutting out voices they consider "irritating" and limiting the people's choices (and in the process, stacking the outcome in their favour). Those views are bad and horrible and undemocratic, and if people don't like being called that, then I suggest they change their minds.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • James Caygill,

    Then you are not a democrat. Sorry, but you're not. And language such as "single issue irritants" makes that crystal clear.
    Whether our Parliament consists of a few big, broad parties or many smaller, narrower ones is properly a decision for voters - not self-interested big parties.
    (Oh, and full disclosure here: James Caygill is the architect of Labour's current position).

    I am a democrat - sorry but I am. I'm also a political scientist by training, including democratic theory. I'm just not and never have been an advocate of direct democracy or its variants. There are plenty of democratic traditions where my views are perfectly justified. I know you know that too. You do yourself no favours by being so rigid.

    FPP is democratic too, just on a different framework. One that is based on the aggregation of local democratic contests. I far prefer MMP - it provides a nationally democratic outcome, ignoring local contests (other than, as Graeme rightly points out, the coattails situation where a local contest provides a disproportional effect on the national outcome).

    Take exception to 'single issue irritants' if you will but I think, in general, single issue parties, or joke parties (and to be clear I'm not trying to say they are the same), are unhealthy for the polity, and outside their single issue are dangerous and biddable.

    Of course the composition of Parliament is a matter for voters - that's the point of this discussion, and the referendum - you can't conduct theoretical discussions outside the context of the system - big parties are made up of voters too you know. At the end of the day if the majority want no threshold, fine, I'm not going to die in a ditch, I just don't think that they do.

    Discussion about the threshold at 0,1,2,3,4,or 5% is still a discussion at the margins. It is not a discussion about whether the parliament will be made up of one, two or four parties. I think we're relatively stable at the moment with party numbers largely dictated by the retirement schedule of leaders, and succession planning, rather than a sneaky plan by big parties (which is pretty unsneaky if this is it) to screw the scrum.

    And for the record (which I know you know) I am one of the architects of Labour's current position. Hence the use of the personal pronoun in my post. But I'm only one - and there's plenty of robust argument inside the party. Which is all good.

    Let's save MMP, and continue to argue about how it can be improved.

    Christchurch • Since Oct 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    Typical of big party antidemocrats to come over all reasonable.

    Sneaky bugger

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • James Caygill,

    Can you wear boots on tentacles?

    I sure hope so

    I make no apologies for my harsh language. In a democracy, the people should rule. I think it is fair to say that some people in this thread are not interested in that, but rather in shutting out voices they consider "irritating" and limiting the people's choices (and in the process, stacking the outcome in their favour). Those views are bad and horrible and undemocratic, and if people don't like being called that, then I suggest they change their minds.

    You can call me all sorts of things - I just take exception to being misrepresented. :)

    I agree with you that a 4% threshold, say, stakes the outcome in my favour - but as I say only at the margins. I know that's unacceptable to you. To me it's not.

    Under all proposals I've heard/read for MMP the people rule - but all contain a judgement about how the people can rule. It's representative democracy after all. We have all sorts of rules in place about how that representation can occur.

    Christchurch • Since Oct 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    James: again, your language betrays you. What is "unhealthy for the polity" is up to the voters. If you consider small parties "dangerous and biddable", then by all means, don't vote for them. But it is fundamentally illegitimate to try and stack the system to stop people from doing so - which is what you are advocating.

    To give a particularly pertinant example, a little more than a hundred years ago the powers-that-be thought that the ancestors of the present Labour Party were "unhealthy for the polity". Fortunately for our democracy, their attempt to stack the system - the removal of runoff voting - failed. Unfortunately, their undemocratic mindset has lived on, and has now colonised their once-victims.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Under all proposals I've heard/read for MMP the people rule - but all contain a judgement about how the people can rule. It's representative democracy after all. We have all sorts of rules in place about how that representation can occur.

    Indeed. But you quite explicitly think that there are some people who just shouldn't be represented. And that is simply undemocratic.

    Either we're all worthy of democratic representation, or none are. Whose side are you on?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • James Caygill,

    I/S I understand your point.

    I guess I'd say that the ancestors of the present Labour Party organised enough to overcome the basic prejudice in the system.

    I'm not at all trying to claim my position is without prejudice. I just personally believe that a 4% threshold, say, can be organised around (or more properly over) as a qualification for national representation.

    Yes I'm advocating a barrier - I'm simply taking the view that the barrier is reasonable - where yours is that no barrier is reasonable.

    Of course the elephant in the room here is that there's another path to representation which is lower - organise geographically and get elected in a seat.

    Christchurch • Since Oct 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I make no apologies for my harsh language.

    But you aren't using your harsh language to mean anything but bad! bad! bad!; it gets rather dull and annoying.

    I mean:

    Indeed. But you quite explicitly think that there are some people who just shouldn't be represented. And that is simply undemocratic.

    is rather arguable; all many-to-one systems of mapping populations to parliament inherently misrepresent people all the time.

    The claim is that artificial barriers to representation above and beyond the inherent size of parliament if horribly undemocratic, whereas the inherent size of parliament issue is not undemocratic, which is a bit odd.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Of course the elephant in the room here is that there's another path to representation which is lower - organise geographically and get elected in a seat.

    Sure. But I think the answer to unfairness is to minimise, rather than maximise it. Or, to use Graeme's example above, to give both kids an icecream.

    As for the barrier being reasonable, once upon a time people exactly like you thought the same about the property qualification and the ban on women voting. Giving the poor a voice would be "unhealthy for the polity" (why, it might lead to them demanding education and healthcare and worker's rights); women were "dangerous and biddable". The "reasonable" position was to exclude rather than include, and to deny the fundamental moral equality on which democracy rests.

    I look forward to relegating your position to the dustbin of history with its predecessors.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Why do we have to have a representative democracy at all?

    How about Particapatory Democracy, Citizen Jury or lets jump in and go for Anarchy.

    Anarchy is the only truely sustainable option for humanity.

    Mung-beans sound good tonight.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Like most things, democracy is a continuum. Various arrangements are more and less democratic, but nothing will be absolutely so.

    That was my point.

    The suggestion I was refuting was than non-proportional democracies aren't actually democracies. I think they can be.

    Those who consider that all non-proportional voting systems are undemocratic must consider that any system with a single winner (like an electorate contest, or a presidency) is not democratic.

    A proof by contradiction, if you will :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Family First's Bob McCoskrie on the referendum..

    Good lord. I actually had to check twice to make sure that wasn't one of Lyndon's clever works of satire.

    Are we sure it's not Bob McCoskrie being ironic?
    [He has a sense of humour and I do think he has it in him]

    He's aggrieved that MPs have argued that they can ignore the result of the smacking referendum because the question was confusing because a voter wanting change in the law had to vote "no", when they're going to use the same type of question - with the same flaw* - this time 'round and are going to act on it. Basically - if a "no" means "yes" referendum is good enough for MMP, then what was the problem with a "no" means "yes" question about smacking?

    Why do we think this is a media release about MMP, and not a media release using the MMP referendum to make a point about the smacking referendum?

    * I suspect they're not actually going to use that question.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • James Caygill,

    I/S, I know my history too.

    But importantly I'm making an argument not about the quality of voters, but their number in aggregation. I think that tends to a different argument.

    And of course I'm not suggesting as you suggest maximising the unfairness (I've already pointed out your inaccuracy there). No one is suggesting (I stand to be corrected of course) that the threshold should be raised.

    Rather, I'm simply settling on a higher level of unfairness than you are prepared to allow. Doing that does not inherently rule my position invalid, albeit not to your taste.

    Christchurch • Since Oct 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Those who consider that all non-proportional voting systems are undemocratic must consider that any system with a single winner (like an electorate contest, or a presidency) is not democratic.

    I consider that they are significantly less democratic. Thus, they should only be used sparingly (weak heads of state, for example).

    For certain things, yes. Where there are strong reasons why representatives of particular bounded constituencies need direct representation (as in geography in historic New Zealand), single member, winner-take-all constituencies should take precedence. Where that need is less, but still exists, a mixed system can exist.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I know my history too.

    But not everyone else does - and I think its important to point out the company you are keeping.

    Rather, I'm simply settling on a higher level of unfairness than you are prepared to allow.

    And, with your preference for no electoral lifeboat, a higher level than we have in practice at present.

    But hey, can't let the hoi polloi have a say.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I tend to think using the words 'democratic', 'undemocratic', 'more/less democratic' isn't really that useful in the context of this discussion. That's a discussion about the meaning of the words, not about how good the various systems under discussion are. It's probably better to be more specific about the various merits than to just talk about the 'level of democracy'.

    I find this amusing because I remember having this discussion in the 80s with a friend about socialism, we discussed whether one system was more socialist, less socialist etc. In the end it was kind of pointless because the problem with a word like socialism is that it is used in so many different ways and we kind of settled on perhaps using the word 'democratic' to really better characterize what we really were about. But now, in NZ, I think the term has become just as much of hot potato, and for that reason, just about as worthless.

    Who cares if MMP is more or less 'democratic'? The question is whether it is better or worse. If you don't go back to that question, then you just defer it - once you've settled which is more democratic (and I doubt that would be settled since it is a semantic debate, and such things are totally characterized by polarized positions becoming more and more entrenched), then you still have to actually justify which is better.

    Can we have that debate instead? I/S I actually agree with you that lower thresholds are better. But I'd say my reasons are because lower thresholds exclude minorities less.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Gregor Ronald,

    I like STV because it always delivers a result, and I think (not 100% sure here) that it's more accurate, proportionally speaking. Computers will process the votes in a few seconds, though verification and safeguards may make that hours.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Colin Ross,

    Steve, you have hit the answer in one !. It is very important that our process continue to be transparent.
    Remove the anomaly of having a single electorate member sweep in a clutch of hangers on, and by all means lower the threshold down a percentage point or so from 5%
    We do not have a Senate or any form of curb on the powers of the Parliament, which makes us very vulnerable.
    Those of us who are old enough to have experienced life under the control of a rampant executive can and must press as hard as possible for a continuation of our present system.
    There is and always will be some waste, some exploitation of the system, but they are at least all out in the open, and it doesn't take very long for the democratic process to sort out the cheats.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2008 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    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.

    Heh. You say that like it's a bad thing. :)

    I knew that when I said it was unfair ACT got so many seats. In reality, I love both WInston & Rodney for the theatre they provide.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    He's aggrieved that MPs have argued that they can ignore the result of the smacking referendum...

    Because, unlike Bob, they bothered reading the relevant legislation? It's about time someone asked Bob and Co. what part of "non-binding" is beyond their pin-head powers of comprehension. Until then, its just another item in the file that proves he has precisely nothing useful to contribute to any serious public policy debate because, on previous form, he's either:

    1) Clinically psychotic.
    2) A compulsive liar.
    and/or
    3) Functionally illiterate and innumerate to a degree that would suggest he suffers from a dense cluster of severe learning disabilities.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Because, unlike Bob, they bothered reading the relevant legislation? It's about time someone asked Bob and Co. what part of "non-binding" is beyond their pin-head powers of comprehension.

    The MMP referendum in 2011 will also be non-binding. Yet the politicians are (presumably) going to accept the result and act on it.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

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