The Dim-Post

June 29, 2011

Amateur electoral system blogging

Filed under: policy — danylmc @ 11:34 am

One of the criticisms of MMP is that it allows politicians voted out by their electorate to get into Parliament on the party list. I haven’t actually seen any evidence that the public considers this a problem, just endless claims to that effect made by political elites. Consider the recent by-election in Te Tai Tokerau. Did the electorate ‘kick out’ Kelvin Davis? Are they outraged that he’s still in Parliament because of the list system? Of course not – on the contrary, they voted strategically so they could have both Davis and Hone Harawira representing them.

So how’s this as a compromise measure, an amendment to the current system if the nation votes to retain MMP in the electoral referendum: if a politician loses an electorate by a significant margin – 25%, say, then they can reasonably said to have been rejected by the voters, and they’ll be struck from the party list for purposes of that electoral cycle. This addresses the ‘kicked out and snuck back in’ complaint – if voters really want to kick someone out they can.

Update: incredibly obvious flaw, pointed out in the first comment: this would stop minor parties from standing in electorate seats. Slightly more complicated solution: you get struck off if you get >25% less than your party’s nation-wide vote?

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60 Comments »

  1. As written, that’s just going to discourage minor parties from standing for electorate seats.

    Comment by Miggle — June 29, 2011 @ 11:39 am

  2. Yeah, that’s true. I guess you could make the margin dependent on the party’s national list vote.

    Comment by danylmc — June 29, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  3. European list PR systems whereby there are no electorate seats sometimes have list striking. This means when you vote for a party you can then turn your ballot paper over to the back and strike out any of the MPs they have listed. If an MP gets over a particular number of strikes they are out (which is based on the number of voters).

    It ensures hated MPs could never come in on the list and is nowhere near as complicated as publicly ranked lists. The fact you may only strike from a party you vote for means that people can’t vindictively strike good MPs from the list because they then have to vote for the party to do so.

    I would be interested to hear those anti-MMP voices point out which specific list MPs are useless in each party.

    Comment by Rob — June 29, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  4. No. Regardless of the wishes of a given electorate, if the rest of the country wants an MP in parliament then that person has a mandate to be there.

    Consider the case of an MP who takes a stand against a power bloc in his own community — for example, if an MP on the West Coast took a stand against mineral exploration on “keep NZ 100% pure” grounds. That MP might be very unpopular indeed within his electorate, but would still represent a substantial constituency in the rest of the country.

    A geographic electorate does not deserve a veto over a given MP’s ability to represent the interests of a constituency elsewhere. If the rest of the country wants him out, they can choose not to cast party votes for the party, which will also provide good incentives to parties to not keep around time-serving loyalists who are hated by the general public..

    A measure such as you suggest will simply create a chilling effect. MPs who aren’t certain they can win, or nearly win, an electorate will be discouraged from contesting it, which delivers a very powerful incumbency advantage. the whole argument is base protection, primarily for National, who has the largest base of electorates to protect.

    L

    Comment by Lew — June 29, 2011 @ 11:46 am

  5. No harm in pointing the idea out, but I don’t think there’s any real need for such a scheme. I went to a talk in Auckland last night – Nigel Roberts on the upcoming referendum. He pointed out that in the last election only one candidate was returned to Parliament in this way. Even if you think that MPs returning via the list is a bad thing, and I don’t, one MP out of 120-odd isn’t much to worry about.

    Comment by Ethan Tucker — June 29, 2011 @ 11:49 am

  6. A striking out system is rather simplistic as you can only voice a negative opinion. It seems to me you’d get unpredictable outcomes if people really wanted someone to get in to parliament and just stuck out everyone above them.

    I think the best option is some sort of publicly run primary system held before each general election. Each party would put forward a list of candidates and every voter has the opportunity to select their preferred list ordering for their preferred party in an STV election.

    Comment by Miggle — June 29, 2011 @ 11:52 am

  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_list

    Comment by Mike — June 29, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  8. A measure such as you suggest will simply create a chilling effect.

    Save us all from ‘chilling effects’. Politicians wouldn’t have to win, or nearly win – just not suffer an overwhelming defeat.

    Comment by danylmc — June 29, 2011 @ 11:56 am

  9. Which MPs have got in on the list despite being overwhelmingly rejected by their electorate? (not counting minor party MPs). Has it ever happened?

    Comment by Newtown News — June 29, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  10. I seriously doubt that this is an issue which anybody besides people who hate MMP actually thinks is important.

    & if people who want to keep MMP but change the list system, then they can, because MMP will be reviewed after its retianed.

    Which leaves people who hate MMP, like Peter Shirtcliffe & activist lawyers for the National/ACT parties (well, they’re the same thing now.)

    Comment by Hobbes — June 29, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  11. Which MPs have got in on the list despite being overwhelmingly rejected by their electorate? (not counting minor party MPs). Has it ever happened?

    Overwhelmingly? I’m not sure. I think the example on people’s minds is Winston Peters in 2005, who was voted out by Tauranga by a not huge margin but got over 5% so he came back to Parliament. But if you’re winning >5% you’re getting over 100,000 votes, so I’m not sure why Tauranga should get to veto the votes of all those other people.

    Comment by danylmc — June 29, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  12. The review of MMP if it’s kept will only look at 3 things:

    1. The 5% threshold and if it’s too high
    2. Whether to continue to allow sub 5% parties to get list MPs if they win an electorate
    3. Whether to continue to allow MPs who don’t win an electorate to become list MPs

    Comment by Newtown News — June 29, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

  13. But Winston Peters was in a minor party too.

    Comment by Newtown News — June 29, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  14. Also, on the ‘striking out” comment somebody made earlier – funnily enough until 1990 we actually voted by putting a line through all of the names of the candidates we didn’t like, and leaving the name of the one we liked.

    Winston Peters was elected to parliament for the first time in 1978 thanks to this system – on the first count he lost to Roger Douglas’ brother, the Labour candidate for Hunua, but he overturned the result because there were a number of Labour voters who had ticked Douglas’ name instead of crossing out all the others – these votes were invalidated and peters won the recount.

    Just think, if we’d made that simple change to our voting system a decade earlier (we’d been doing that for over a hundred years), we would never have had to deal with Winston Peters.

    Comment by Hobbes — June 29, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  15. Just realised my amended idea would preclude minor party candidates from running in electorates to try and boost their party vote, so I don’t think that ones a winner either.

    Comment by danylmc — June 29, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  16. I think it’s quite a good system as it is, you vote for a party, and you trust that party to do it’s job – one of the least concerning things would be if a party you trust happened to have 1 name on there that you didn’t like…and if that is a major issue for you, don’t give them your party vote. It would be interesting though if there was some way that along with your party vote, you could give a preference to the list ordering, but the only way to do that, would be online, but would give people another little bit of democratic power…

    Comment by djmatus23 — June 29, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  17. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Comment by Ianmac — June 29, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  18. Darren Hughes lost Otaki by a 1000 vote margin then returned on the list. He was hugely popular at the time though despite that so not really a good example. Probably the most prominent recent example of one of the major parties MPs doing that though.

    Comment by Rob — June 29, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

  19. Also, if you want to see Peter Shirtcliffe spitting with rage to a bunch of lily-white ACT Party supporters in a cafe, here’s a lol-worthy video

    Comment by Hobbes — June 29, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  20. Danyl – the solution you are looking for is an open list: give voters the option of choosing an candidate from the list as part of their party vote, and then those elected through the list will have personal mandates as well.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — June 29, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  21. The review of MMP if it’s kept will only look at 3 things:

    1. The 5% threshold and if it’s too high
    2. Whether to continue to allow sub 5% parties to get list MPs if they win an electorate
    3. Whether to continue to allow MPs who don’t win an electorate to become list MPs

    The review of MMP will also look at:

    4. Whether we should have open lists.
    5. Whether the ratio of list MPs vs electorate MPs should change.
    6. Whether to do something about overhang.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — June 29, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  22. “The review of MMP if it’s kept will only look at 3 things:

    1. The 5% threshold and if it’s too high
    2. Whether to continue to allow sub 5% parties to get list MPs if they win an electorate
    3. Whether to continue to allow MPs who don’t win an electorate to become list MPs”

    Nope.

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2010/0139/latest/whole.html#dlm2833513

    ” Scope of review

    (2) In addition to the matters specified in subsection (1), the Electoral Commission may, in undertaking the review, consider other aspects of the mixed member proportional representation voting system.”

    http://mydeology.co.nz/2011/06/mmp-the-whale-gets-one-wrong/

    Comment by James Rawiri Meager — June 29, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  23. Also, this is a really good article by John Armstrong, he makes the point that this whole “back door list MP” thing is basically just a made-up bogeyman by the anti-MMP lobby because they’ve run out of things to try and scare people with & this is the only option left, apart from openly saying that, I dunno, FPP would be good because it’d mean there’s less women or brown people in parliament?

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10735152

    Comment by Hobbes — June 29, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  24. 2005 was the bumper year for this kind of thing. Darren Hughes is a good example, but there was also Jim Sutton, Georgina Beyer, Russell Fairbrother, etc.

    When I’ve put this to my students in classes on MMP they usually draw a distinction between MPs who stand but are never elected, who they seem to see as fair game for list seats, and MPs who hold electorate seats but are rejected, but nonetheless hang around on the list. So I would say the best way to address this deficiency (which personally I think is bollocks, but assuming for the moment we view it as a real deficiency) is to simply apply Danyl’s initial rule, but only to MPs who were elected to the same electorate the prior election.

    Comment by Hugh — June 29, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  25. Don Brash will “sneak back in” on the list in 2011, if he keeps his promise to stand in an electorate, where he will get thumped.

    He will then become a high-ranking Cabinet Minister, with perhaps the weakest personal mandate in NZ history.

    So the Cliffe-Shirts will have a new Exhibit A for the anti-MMP cmapaign – in the form of their own hero. Irony overload.

    Comment by sammy — June 29, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  26. So we all agree there’s not really a problem, and any solution to the tiny issues that may potentially occur is 1000x more problematic than the issues themselves?

    Comment by garethw — June 29, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  27. @4 perfectly put
    You’re supposed to vote FOR something/someone, not AGAINST someone/something anyway
    If the lists were not published then these people might have a point, but they are.
    There’s mileage in messing with the thresholds, of course, and any system benefits from fine tuning.

    Comment by Roger Parkinson — June 29, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  28. I’m basically with Lew on this one. The argument is a red-herring though – you usually find that when people rant about this “issue”, they’re really just pissed off that there are Greens and Maoris in parliament. It’s personal prejudice gussied up to look like a massive flaw in the system.

    Comment by Purple-Shirted Eye Stabber — June 29, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  29. You’re supposed to vote FOR something/someone, not AGAINST someone/something anyway

    I don’t know about that – I like Popper’s argument, that democracy isn’t about getting good governments, it’s about getting rid of bad governments.

    I would say the best way to address this deficiency (which personally I think is bollocks, but assuming for the moment we view it as a real deficiency) is to simply apply Danyl’s initial rule, but only to MPs who were elected to the same electorate the prior election.

    Like I say in the OP, I’m also dubious as to whether this is a real public concern, or something that’s been fabricated – but precluding incumbents who lost by a high margin would be a good solution to the other problems raised.

    Comment by danylmc — June 29, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

  30. @ Hobbes

    …this is the only option left, apart from openly saying that, I dunno, FPP would be good because it’d mean there’s less women or brown people in parliament?

    It’s all about market efficiency.
    By expending resources to directly target Turia, Turei, Mahuta, Sepuloni (and maybe Melissa Lee?) Shirtcliffe can get a two-fer!

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

  31. This is just a red-herring created by people who (wilfully or not) do not understand MMP.

    List MPs who get in *have* been endorsed by the voters. The candidate has been endorsed, or rather the party’s list has been endorsed, by the voters who voted for that party on the party vote.

    Sure, a List MP might well have been rejected as an electorate MP *by the voters of that particular electorate*. But that isn’t relevant to their capability to be a List MP, which is a nationwide endorsement.

    Comment by Richard — June 29, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  32. Danyl – I think it is fabricated, and it is certainly nonsense. In the National Party, list MPs are told they should run for a seat, usually a safe Labour one. This means that, at least once every three years, list MPs have to get out in front of a community and connect to some extent. It also means that safe Labour seats have a National list MP where there is a connection with the community. A good example is Trade Minister Tim Groser – “the MP for Geneva” – who stands in New Lynn. Of course he will lose (although he did beat David Cunliffe for the party vote on election night 2008) but it means Groser keeps in mind that the path to him getting to Geneva, Beijing etc as Trade Minister runs through LynnMall. Plus the New Lynn National Party and wider New Lynn community has a National Cabinet Minister who stays connected with their concerns and interests. The idea Groser shouldn’t be allowed into Parliament as a list MP because the people of New Lynn “reject him” is silly. Brash, Cullen, Groser, Joyce, Green MPs … overall Parliament has gained from list MPs.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 29, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  33. I don’t recall – are the Party Lists provided to you in the voting booth?

    Comment by garethw — June 29, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  34. I wonder if, just expanding on what Matthew said, there’s a sort of invisible hand (haha I can’t say that with a straight face) phenomenon at work which ends up sorting this out on its own – think people like Judith Tizard or Damien O’Connor being dropped way down the list, or Melissa Lee’s inevitable (hopefully?) demotion in comparison to people like Groser, Finlayson, David Parker etc who are rewarded both their competence by getting good list positions despite standing in marginal/hard electorates.

    Comment by Hobbes — June 29, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

  35. gareth I think you’re allowed to take them in – the electoral commission supplies a copy of the party lists with the little card they send to you a month or so before the election which has your voting details on it.

    Comment by Hobbes — June 29, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

  36. If you really want to stop MPs who are unpopular in their electorates from getting into Parliament, the best way to deal with it is to do away with party lists, and fill the ‘list’ seats with the unsuccessful candidates who came closest to winning their electorates.

    I wouldn’t recommend this, though, because it would mean I wouldn’t really know which candidates I was supporting when I cast a party vote.

    Comment by Kahikatea — June 29, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

  37. I would prefer a repêchage system, whereby the list be not fixed by the party, and instead once the constituency and party list votes are tallied and a determination is made as to which parties get list seats, those seats be allocated to the candidates who polled the highest without being elected. This would mean less power to political parties, and would mean that the list MPs had a mandate as well. It would also mean that every MP had had to campaign in a constituency, rather than a few visits around the country.

    Comment by Grant Michael McKenna — June 29, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

  38. Gee, Kahikatea- you made the same proposal while I was writing mine. I would say that the ignorance as to who would get in is not much of a problem- if there were a hated candidate it would be a cause for people not to vote for a certain list, and it does mean that we have to rely on the good sense of our fellow New Zealanders.

    Comment by Grant Michael McKenna — June 29, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

  39. That means that parties can’t bring in ‘expert’ MPs, Groser, Finlayson etc.

    Comment by danylmc — June 29, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

  40. To consider Hugh’s examples of MPs who have done this. As mentioned about Darren Hughes was popular but was standing in a National leaning seat and would have been elected on any form of open list system. An MPs personal ideology seems to matter less and less with time as MPs must stick to party lines which makes it hard to overcome ideological differences your party has with voters even if you are a great MP.

    Georgina Beyer actually didn’t stand for an electorate in 2005. If she had then she still probably would have won it. At any rate she retired soon after.

    Jim Sutton similarly resigned soon after.

    Russell Fairbrother at the next election stood only in his seat coming off the list and stood for Napier once more. On failing to win it he was out of Parliament and stayed out.

    Certainly it is difficult to find a situation where MPs not winning seats and coming in on the list is a problem even if incidents of it can be found.

    @Kahikatea that would also mean electing people on the basis they are running against someone unpopular.

    Comment by Rob — June 29, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  41. Danyl,

    Your original idea is actually used in Japan, although they have SM instead of MMP and the limit is 10%.

    The effects are exactly as predicted: Competent minor party MPs likely to get below 10% of the vote (mainly a problem with the Communist Party) stand as list-only, and less competent, less popular candidates are forced to front the electorate contests for those parties. This increases voter dissatisfaction, firstly nationwide with list-only MPs getting into Parliament over rejected electorate MPs, and secondly in electorates with people being forced to vote for less competent, less popular electorate MPs (Japan has only one vote, not two like NZ’s MMP, so it’s sort of liked being forced to electorate-vote for the candidate of the party you want to list-vote for). The idea just doesn’t work in practice.

    Solutions are to get rid of list MPs (so no more SM or MMP), or get rid of electorate MPs (so move to 100% closed list), or let voters choose party list orderings (so move to open list).

    Comment by Kiwi Poll Guy — June 29, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  42. If we are looking for a solution, surely we first have to properly identify the problem, rather than seek to simply cure a symptom?

    Firstly, is there a problem beyond one of perception and an easily whipped up populist hate of politicians? In other words, what is this desire to get rid of “rejected” MPs who “sneak back” into parliament on the party list actually born from?

    It seems to me that what this actually expresses is a desire to hold politicians accountable to the people, and a general instinctive distrust on the part of the voters of careerist politicians. I think one of the strongest planks of brand Key is actually his mediocrity and amateurism – it reassures voters he isn’t a high and mighty political careerist planning on living it up forever on the public dollar. Conversely, one of the biggest problems that Labour has is the way it has allowed itself to be branded with the perception that it is colonised by just such clever-clogs career politicians.

    My personal view is the best way to re-assure voters that politicians “will stay connected” and not forever “sneak back” into parliament on the party list is not to try and think up convoluted jiggery-pokery around the electoral system, but instead simply introduce term limits that make it absolutely clear that politics is not a life long employment option for people who can game their parties internal political dynamics to ensure they get a high place on their party list and thus effectively have a job for life.

    Now, it may be that a term limit is only applied to list MPs – say, a maximum of nine years as a list MP with no limit on electorate MPs. Or it may be that a term limit is applied to all MPs who do not achieve full cabinet rank or a party leadership. Let’s face it, if you don’t make your mark in nine or twelve years then you are unlikely ever to do so, so off you go! Also, it seems to me term limits would ensure a healthy turn over of MPs and talent. Do we really need dinosaur’s liker Roger Douglas in parliament on the back bench? Surely, if Phil Goff is rolled and sent to the back bench then the immediate kicking in of the term limit would be good thing to force him from parliament?

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 29, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  43. Groser keeps in mind that the path to him getting to Geneva, Beijing etc as Trade Minister runs through LynnMall…

    I take it the fact that the people of LynnMall reject him as Trade Minister, or indeed even as an MP, every year isn’t seen as an obstacle, then?

    To me this idea of a ‘connection’ seems like a small-scale bit of political theatre. Push Groser out on a stage in front of an audience that’s not representative of the electorate as a whole, have him make the same speech he makes everywhere with some meaningless shibboleths about ‘community’ and local interest stories tacked on, and then rhapsodise about the deep ties he has to a community which likes him so much it decides to give its votes to the other guy anyway.

    Comment by Hugh — June 29, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  44. So let me get this straight, Sanctuary. You think the best way to address these problems is not to prevent losing electorate MPs from remaining in parliament, but to prevent winning electorate MPs from remaining?

    Do you really think somebody’s going to say “Wow, it pisses me off that my unpopular electorate MP got tossed out but is still in Parliament, but that doesn’t matter because another popular long-running electorate MP got fired?”

    PS: Just to be specifically rather than broadly dismissive, your idea for an exception for MPs who make it into Cabinet means that electorate MPs who side with their electorate over their party, and aren’t rewarded with high office within that party, will be able to effectively be removed by their party after long enough by simply not being given a Cabinet post (not that they’d be likely to get one anyway if they routinely hack off their party by prioritising their electorate).

    I can only really conclude you didn’t think this through at all.

    Comment by Hugh — June 29, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  45. There is a bit of irony about 4 and a half minutes into that Shirtcliffe clip posted above – where he advocates a preferential voting system to determine which electoral system should challenge MMP. He actually dismisses the straightforward FPP option as not providing a clear winner…

    Comment by Sam — June 29, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

  46. Actually – that’s about 4 minutes in, and not so ironic as I thought – given that I had assumed until slightly further into the clip that Shirtcliffe was an advocate of FPP…

    Comment by Sam — June 29, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  47. “…You think the best way to address these problems is not to prevent losing electorate MPs from remaining in parliament, but to prevent winning electorate MPs from remaining..?”

    I can only assume you missed my sentence that began “…Now, it may be that a term limit is only applied to list MPs…”

    Secondly, If you had actually thought about what i had written and put your brain into gear before posting then you would have worked out that if it were decided the time limit were to apply to all MPs there is nothing preventing a popular local MP who is sidelined by his party doing a Harawira or a Dunne or an Anderton and returning as a party leader after a bye election. – This would sidestep the time limit, and arguably achieving a direct mandate to be the the renegade MP for wxyz ishealthier for our democracy than simply resentfully smoldering as an outcast on the back benches.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 29, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  48. I didn’t miss it, Sanctuary, but I chose to go with your proposal without the “maybe”. Doubtless if I’d gone with the “maybe” version you’d be saying “God, I only said ‘maybe’ it should be limited to List MPs, lighten up!” I think the dynamic applies, though – I can’t see why people would be happy some other List MP got fired unless they just hate List MPs. And if that’s the case, I think the only way to tweak MMP to make it respond to their concerns is to tweak it into being FPP, or SM perhaps.

    And you’re quite right. Now that I’ve Actually Thought (TM) and Engaged My Brain (TM) it still seems you’re in favour of giving parties the right to effectively expel electorate MPs. The fact that these electorate MPs can just form their own parties doesn’t seem a good remedy. If you think an MP who prioritises his electorate over his party can legitimately be expelled for that reason I’d question why you want to have electorate MPs at all.

    Comment by Hugh — June 29, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  49. Well Hugh, to step back from the sniping – this seems to be your primary objection to a term limit: A party can effectively expel long serving electorate MPs who step out of line. I can’t see what is so terrible about this. After all, if your party hates you and you are so useless you can’t hold your electorate seat even with the advantage of long term incumbency then AFAIC I can’t see why yopu particularly deserve to be in parliament. So I think my general point still holds. If you have not made an impact in nine or twelve years then you never will. “An impact” can include being a solid and popular local MP who can win his or her seat without a party rosette. An impact can be being a party leader or a cabinet minister or or maybe even a senior shadow cabinet member. Who knows? Not everything is like Nike Athena and can spring fully formed from the head of Zeus you know.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 29, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  50. Leaving aside the merits of whether it’s correct or not, there are better ways to allow parties to expel sitting MPs who have electorate support. And really, my main objection is that you are not addressing the objection that people vis-a-vis the MMP system. Your solution to the problem isn’t a good solution because it doesn’t solve the problem, or rather, it only solves the problem if we accept your fairly tenuous contention that the real problem is actually another, outwardly entirely separate problem.

    Comment by Hugh — June 29, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  51. I don’t know about that – I like Popper’s argument, that democracy isn’t about getting good governments, it’s about getting rid of bad governments.

    Which is exactly what happens under MMP. In 1999 we got rid of a bad government which was past its use-by date. Those on the right would say we did the same in 2008 as well. And the replacement coalitions were given clear mandates to govern.

    The arguable cases are 1996 and 2005 – tight elections where the outcome hinged on coalition talks (though less so in 2005, where the numbers clearly favoured Labour, and it was just a question of the exact combination). But those governments also had majorities, though weakened ones, and correspondingly more policy vetoes from their coalition partners. And to the extent that those parties were believed to have made the wrong choice, they were punished at the next election.

    Comment by Idiot/Savant — June 29, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  52. Graeme @21 and James @22:

    I’m quite happy to have been misinformed here as I’m a supporter of open lists. I wonder whether the politicians who will ultimately decide this (assuming/hoping MMP wins) will be totally against it. On the one keeping closed lists leaves power with the party bosses, but on the other having party lists frees them from that responsibility. No one can complain about too many gays or unionists on the Labour list, or too few Aucklanders on the Green list, because it will be the voters who ranked them.

    And in general I believe that any system that gives an incentive for carpetbagging is a bad thing.

    Comment by Newtown News — June 30, 2011 @ 6:22 am

  53. Anything that gets rid of the Green carpet baggers is good.

    Comment by will — June 30, 2011 @ 6:23 am

  54. Will, I think you some up the motivations of the anti-MMP movement. Most people who are opposed to MMP just hate the Greens. It’s not enough for them that the Green Party are just a minor party with 5%-8% of the seats who never get into government, they’re opposed to the Green Party having any representation at all, and their own partisan biases far outweigh any considerations of what might be fair.

    Comment by Newtown News — June 30, 2011 @ 7:01 am

  55. Most people who are opposed to MMP just hate the Greens. It’s not enough for them that the Green Party are just a minor party with 5%-8% of the seats who never get into government, they’re opposed to the Green Party having any representation at all

    This.

    Comment by Purple-Shirted Eye Stabber — June 30, 2011 @ 10:22 am

  56. You know, one problem with open lists might be that people don’t complain about too many gays and women on the Labour list because there aren’t as many, which would be bad.

    Comment by Keir — June 30, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

  57. I don’t think that would happen. Activists for gay rights could vote for gay candidates and they could end up ranking quite high on the list. And Westland people would likely vote for a West Coast candidate giving him/her a high enough place to get in on the list.

    Comment by Newtown News — July 1, 2011 @ 1:31 am

  58. This discussion about party lists is all bullshit. If you don’t like a particular party list don’t vote for that party. What is hard about that?

    I like MMP as it is the first time in my voting life (which started in 1972) that I have had a vote that counted. (I always seem to end up living in an electorate which is a national safe seat.)

    And doesn’t this emphasis on electorate mps just reinforce a narrow provincial pork barrel approach to running the nation. MMP changes the emphasis to looking at the country as a whole.

    Comment by Andrew R — July 2, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

  59. Danyl -there is still a problem with your updated model: “you get struck off if you get >25% less than your party’s nation-wide vote?”. No National MP is going to stand in Mangere and no Labour MP is going to stand in Epsom. A better measure is the difference between your personal vote in the electorate and the party vote in the electorate.

    For example, Jacinda Ardern got absolutely thrashed in Waikato at the last election. Lindsay TIsch got 63.44% and Jacinda got 22.93%. But Labour’s party vote in that electorate was 22.57%. It can hardly be Jacinda’s fault that she got thrashed – she outpolled the Labour party in the electorate.

    Comment by Gavin Long — July 3, 2011 @ 3:06 am

  60. There has been some criticism of MP’s who are stand on both the list and electorates. Some people call them failed MP’s. Is this fair or valid. I don’t think, so because not all electorates are equally winnable. Winabilty depends on the demographics of the electorate, not the quality of the candidate. For example a highly qualified labour candidate standing in a’ blue ribbon’ national seat will usually not win but would be valuable for the party and the country. Not all candidates from the left or the right have an equal chance of being elected in a particular constituency because of the socioeconomic’s of that electorate. This is is where the party list is valuable, because it allows talented individuals to get into parliament either from unwinable electorates or by way of the list only. Lists members are elected. We are voting for the party the person is standing for.
    Another point about the lists they are democratically elected by the party and usually represent a geographic gender and ethnic spread. In a way canditates are chosen by the party in the same way as under FFP. People vote for parties, not candidates, as such i.e. National and Labour voters usually vote for their party regardless of the candidate.

    Comment by Peter — November 15, 2011 @ 6:20 pm


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