Polity: Government votes not to improve MMP
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Except, of course, this isn't the reason Labour supports abolishing the one-seat rule, given that they announced they'd legislate to do that before the review was conducted, and indeed, before the referendum was held (as noted here http://publicaddress.net/legalbeagle/election-fact-check-8-electoral-law-consensus/).
Given that the Electoral Commissions proposals would reduce the overall proportionality of Parliament, I'm not exactly unhappy about this. And if Labour had seperated their desire to kneecap national's coalition partners from the straight democratic argument in favour of a lower threshold, their bill might have succeeded.
Germany isnt strictly speaking a similar system to ours as they operate a 'regional MMP' version. Lists and electorates are bundled by the federal states. This normally produces a overhang for the CSU who only contest seats in Bavaria, winning all of them, while their partners the CDU stay well clear.
A regional MMP is used in Scotland as well, even though its not much bigger in population than NZ, the result is to give SNPa majority with around 53% of the seats but only 45% of the votes.
This is the kind of reform National will be most interested in
Germany can have a multi-electorate lifeboat rule because they have more electorates and more MPs. New Zealand does not have that luxury. (And, as Steve points out above, there's a federal overlay to Germany's system that is missing in NZ.)
And as for so-called “coat-tailing”: if the bigger parties can bring in friends and cronies of more popular politicians to make up their numbers as required by their popular vote (I’m looking here especially at the National party list, though Labour would have the same issue if they had managed a higher popular vote), why shouldn’t smaller parties have the same freedom? The only problem I see is the unfairness of the result compared with that for parties that fail to get over the 5% minimum – and a better resolution of that anomaly would be to reduce the minimum even further (e.g. to 1%).
James Caygill, in reply to
Easy answer to the proportionality issue: include a change to s191 of the Electoral Act to ensure that the size of Parliament changes to maintain proportionality.
Limiting parliament's size to 120 is a stupid idea - a populist one sure, but stupid. It gets more stupid the more the population grows.
lowering the threshold is that it could lead to instability
Which begs the question of whether stability is a good thing. Dictatorship for life is very stable too.
Essentially if you can't get agreement in parliament to get laws through then you probably should have another election rather than having the current situation where National passes whatever it likes into law ... or kills whatever it dislikes.
Bart Janssen, in reply to
of course, this isn’t the reason Labour supports abolishing the one-seat rule
Who gives a rats arse WHY they want to do the right thing.
linger, in reply to
There’s a trade-off involved, given that we have (i) a small population and (ii) a frighteningly small pool of capable individuals interested in running for public office for the good of the country rather than for their own benefit.
Increasing the size of our Parliament would probably allow increased representativeness, but would almost certainly reduce efficiency of day-to-day running of the country. (C. Northcote Parkinson, in The Law, estimated 23±2 as a committee size limit above which it was impossible to do any productive work.)
For any functionality beyond representativeness, you don’t need hundreds of idiots; you need a smaller number of capable people. One weakness of democracy is that there's no separate, objective quality control on candidates other than the popular party vote (and/or electoral representative vote -- for which nominations are determined also by the party's selection process). It’s pretty damn obvious that popularity of a party with voters does not entail capability of a member in the job. (And as the Greens are perhaps now discovering, there’s no guarantee of capability even in their more direct hiring process where individuals are popular with the party membership.)
Rob Stowell, in reply to
Given that the Electoral Commissions proposals would reduce the overall proportionality of Parliament, I'm not exactly unhappy about this.
Me too. I'd like the threshold lowered (or done away with at .8%) because it makes parliament more proportional. Losing the lifeboat/coat-tail provision makes parliament less proportional, so tying the two together just muddies the water. It feels like it's part compromise, part pandering to public distaste for coat-tailing, and part pure expedient opportunism. Bah humbug.
James Caygill, in reply to
"Representation" is the primary function of the House of Representatives in my opinion.
Parliament doesn't run the country, it legislates and oversees. The Executive runs the country.
Besides in my experience idiot is in the eye of the beholder - we generally disrespect politicians because we're thinking of the side we don't support. In a pluralist democracy I'm pretty relaxed about a Parliament where I consider a reasonable number to be idiots. They're generally idiots because they don't agree with me all the time - which they probably shouldn't if they're representative.
More importantly the change isn't likely to lead to a House of 250 people - just allow it to increase as needed to stay generally proportional.
linger, in reply to
Would you say Parliament is doing an effective job of overseeing anything at present?
James Caygill, in reply to
I don't pay enough attention to know at a detailed level - but Select Committee oversight seems to be functioning as well as it ever does (certainly the big change to Standing Orders at the intro of MMP was a massive improvement).
I'd still like a few tweaks to Standing Orders to empower SCs more, and I'd like more scrutiny in a few places - but they're not complaints that are aggravated by more MPs.
I don't see how a threshold change would necessarily reduce the proportionality of parliament.
It would depend (assuming no change to votes) on:
- number of votes for parties with no electorate MPs and 4-5% of votes
- # of votes for parties with no electorate MPs and 1MP quota (0.6%?) -4% of votes
- # of votes for parties with electorate MPs and 2MP quota (1.3%?)-4% of votes
- # of votes for parties with electorate MPs and 4-5% of votes
Then you've got possible changes to voting habits if people think a vote will or won't be wasted.
In general a 4% threshold/no coat-tailing system would certainly be less arbitrary and wouldn't favour concentrated over broad-based support as the current system does?
Rich of Observationz, in reply to
Parliament isn't (mostly) a committee. Parliaments with five times as many members work fine (and there is a good argument that the less "efficent" parliament is, the better the laws that come out).
Also, if you have more MPs, you'll have more competent ones. If a party doesn't want to select competent people, or can't find any, then that's their problem.
Steve Curtis, in reply to
Given that the Electoral Commissions proposals would reduce the overall proportionality of Parliament, I’m not exactly unhappy about this.
. Reducing the threshold INCREASES proportionality as those who are between 4-5% are now included. Of course having no threshold is even more proportional but of the Weimar kind ?
Labour had separated their desire to kneecap national’s coalition partners from the straight democratic argument in favour of a lower threshold
Labour had previously benefited from coattails before and they could again. ( Dunne and MP could support Labour).
The lower threshold isn't a democratic argument, thats only proportionality. The non democratic part is when coattails mean some votes count more than others plus distort proportionality.
“Representation” is the primary function of the House of Representatives in my opinion.
There's another wrinkle to throw into this, and that's to do with the physical size of electorates. People living in Taumarunui have as much representation per capita as do people living in Auckland Central, but people living in Taumarunui get to have their elected representative within reasonable physical distance of them (ie. making it possible for them to actually see their elected representative) about once a month. That's because Taumarunui is about 3 hours drive from the major population areas in the Rangitikei electorate. (I know whatof I speak: I spent an awful lot of time on the road during the election campaign last year.) The effect of distance on representation is even more pronounced in some of the South Island seats, and in a majority of the Maori seats.
One advantage of having a somewhat larger house might be reduced physical size of some electorates.
FTR, I'd like to see the threshold reduced, to maybe 3%? Enough to get you two and a bit seats under our current system.
I'd like to see a preference system. If your party doesn't make the threshold then it gets transfered to another choice. Would let people vote for smaller parties without fear their vote will be waste if they score below the threshold. You could even keep the threshold at 5%
Another option within the current law is party groupings of smaller parties into a larger "party" that was on the ballot. Similar to The Alliance, Peter Dunne at times and Internet Mana. But personally the actual parties to be on the ballot rather than those sort of shenanigans (or the current ones with the coat-tail electorates) .
Wonder how National would have voted on this had Hone won his electorate last time around?
Looking at those graphs, why would you set the threshold at 4% rather than 3%?
One change that needs to go ahead is to convert the existing FPP electorate system to PV or STV. That would eliminate vote cannibalising, especially the infamous Eden-Albert debacle in 2001.
I don't think people would be interested in the level of complication of a multiple voting system in electorates.
With a fair voting system for list MPs, it isn't necessary. Reducing the threshold and removing coat-tailing reduces the ability to game the system.
I still favour a single vote MMP system, where the party vote goes to the list of ones chosen electorate candidate, which is:
- even simpler for the voter
- provides an incentive for parties to run effective electorate candidates and campaigns
- removes pretty much all avenues to game the system, in particular the "pseudo-independent party" scam of Dunne and Seymour
Yes, it removes the ability to hedge ones bets by split voting, but why is this an essential feature of democracy? That option is only available to a small minority of voters, anyway. For most of us living in safe seats, the candidate is entrenched and how we vote at electorate level makes little difference.
I'd also add that such a system would reduce the perceived need for a threshold, because in order to successfully contest an election, a party would need to field a fairly complete set of electorate candidates, which would (absent the Kim Dotcom option of paying candidates a six figure stipend) require a reasonable level of grass-roots support.
TracyMac, in reply to
While I think the Aussie PV system is a bit crap, the great unwashed seems to have no problem at all ranking their preferences. So the "simplicity" argument in favour of MMP doesn't hold up for me.
STV solves all the MMP problems all these manoeuvrings are supposed to fix, but that's obviously not on the table at all right now. Shame.
Moz, in reply to
Aussie PV system ... the great unwashed seems to have no problem at all ranking their preferences.
Really? Have you ever seen an Australian election? The defining feature of those is the donkey vote (write 1 in the first box you see, exit the booth). If you look more deeply there is a huge morass of ugly just under the surface, starting with the "just vote one" campaigns by both major parties and some of the minors, and ending up somewhere in preference harvesting and dishonest party names ("save the forests" run by a logging industry front group, for example). We have a federal senator right now who was elected because he was first on the ballot and had "liberal" in his party name... which got him 5%-10% of the vote. The actual "Liberal Party" share dropped accordingly.
Moz, in reply to
I still favour a single vote MMP system, where the party vote goes to the list of ones chosen electorate candidate
I think that would make things harder for new parties and very small parties. In the worst case a party polling a consistent 1% across the country would need to stand 60 candidates in order to collect those votes and get one person elected. For a party that's polarising that could be difficult - being "The Green" in Bluff wouldn't be a lot of fun, but it would beat being the "Foreshore Reform Party" candidate in Northland. I suspect many people would beat that candidate.
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