The Dim-Post

November 22, 2011

Vote MMP

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:46 pm

Rather than re-hash all the familiar reasons to vote for MMP in the upcoming referendum, here’s a new one I haven’t seen discussed.

MMP is not a perfect electoral system – because there ain’t no such thing. But it’s pretty good, and because we’ve been using it for fifteen years we know what most of the flaws are – and if we vote to keep it we get a commission to figure out how to fix those flaws.

But if we vote to get rid of MMP and replace it with STV, or Supplementary Member or whatever, those new systems might solve some of the problems with MMP but they’ll introduce new as-yet-unforseen problems that politicians will readily identify and exploit. So in another fifteen years we’ll still be complaining about the unfair electoral system and demanding that something be done about it.

If we keep MMP and fix the current problems we avoid another fifteen years (plus) of electoral system teething problems with whatever we replace it with.

51 Comments »

  1. Quite right. In addition, FPP looks to be well ahead in terms of the Part B preferences, so it’s pretty unlikely that a change from MMP would be a change for the better.
    And who knows, maybe the independent review of MMP actually will improve how it operates.

    Comment by EJH — November 22, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  2. Yes. A few wee tweaks will help, then all we need to do is learn to use it more effectively as voters rather than leaving parties to use it to suit themselves.

    We could do with a few more pivotal electorates where votes count for something and the parties have to work hard for support. Some independent or semi independent MPs would be good – as long as they are capable of acting independently and capably.

    Comment by Pete George — November 22, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

  3. Major political change given a few years before being turfed out for yet more major political change in the different “direction”? My, that doesn’t sound like New Zealand 😐

    Comment by garethw — November 22, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

  4. MMP needs more than a bit of tweaking, it needs massive pruning. The major and minor parties have a vested interest in keeping some of its toxic aspects and you can bet your boots they’ll tilt the playing field when it comes to appointing the commission of inquiry.

    You pose a fair argument but I still favour STV.

    STV has all the advantages of MMP AND it allows the voters to choose who becomes an MP rather than the parties. It also allows voters to spread their votes among candidates in a way which would suit me this time around.

    Comment by Alan Henderson — November 22, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  5. “We could do with a few more pivotal electorates where votes count for something and the parties have to work hard for support.”

    Errr … you do know how the Party Vote works under MMP, right? That it is this that determines the spread of representation across Parliament? Because arguing that MMP is good, but we need more marginal electorates to really encourage party activity is (with respect) plain weird. Unless you are suggesting the Epsom model be adopted in a few more electorates – despite the near general hatred of the “electorate lifeboat” exception to the representation threshold? Or perhaps you want more overhang seats, like those held by the Maori Party – despite the disproportionality this creates?

    Actually … just tell me. What do you mean?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 22, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

  6. The post’s argument falls down in another way. The tweaking required would be such a revolution that it would be like starting afresh anyway. Maybe as many loopholes to exploit as a new system.

    Comment by Alan Henderson — November 22, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

  7. “The major and minor parties have a vested interest in keeping some of its toxic aspects and you can bet your boots they’ll tilt the playing field when it comes to appointing the commission of inquiry.”

    The “commission of inquiry” already has been appointed. It’s the Electoral Commission: http://www.elections.org.nz/sitehelp/about.html. This body will conduct any post-referendum review of MMP – whether Parliament listens to it is another story.

    “STV has all the advantages of MMP”

    Not quite. It isn’t as proportional a voting system … see here: http://tryingtoreason.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/on-stv-and-proportionality/.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 22, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  8. In a rational world under MMP everyone would vote for a rabidly parochial local independent with their electorate vote, and whatever party they work their party vote.

    As every electorate MP bumps a party MP out of the house, every electorate vote is wasted.

    I haven’t thought about this hard enough to see whether it would result in a 60 seat overhang or an infinite seat overhang to enacted proportionality. But this is NZ, not the rational world, so I won’t bother.

    Comment by Rick Rowling — November 22, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

  9. “Or perhaps you want more overhang seats, like those held by the Maori Party – despite the disproportionality this creates?”

    Or maybe he’s a UF supporter?

    Comment by Hugh — November 22, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

  10. Rick, it would result in an overhang equal to the total number of electorate seats.

    If people were doing this in a major way, I would suggest we move to one-vote MMP, which means you vote for a candidate and your party vote automatically goes to that candidate’s party.

    However, it will probably never happen, it hasn’t in Germany, though their political scientists have come up with a name for it (Ultraproporzeffekt).

    Comment by Kahikatea — November 22, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

  11. Kahikatea,

    Then why not just do away with electorates, and have one vote direct for the party you like most? Because if people really WERE voting in a major way for “rabidly parochial local independents”, apportioning votes to parties based on how people vote for candidates would lead to some messed up outcomes … .

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 22, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

  12. Alan, re “You pose a fair argument but I still favour STV.”

    The trouble is that if you vote for a change from MMP you won’t actually be supporting a change to STV, but a change to whatever the majority decide which is highly unlikely to do better than FPP which is supported by the grey masses or SM which those who realise that supporting FPP is too intellectually bankrupt to maintain credibility but actually would “not be unhappy at all” if FPP were adopted.

    Even if STV were better than MMP, it is going to come third in that race so anyone vho votes for changing to STV is actually voting for SM/FPP.

    Comment by nommopilot — November 22, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

  13. “why not just do away with electorates, and have one vote direct for the party you like most?”

    Yes, Andrew, why not this?…

    Comment by nommopilot — November 22, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

  14. The biggest problem we have is lack of quality of MPs. Capable people are put off because of the intense oppositioin and media scrutiny, because they don’t want to have to weedle their way through a party, and because parties that appoint party patsies amongst other things. Masny people just can’t be bothered with the partisan crap and restrictions.

    None of the parties are brimming with quality. Greens have got a reasonable list but otherwise the quality is mixed to not great at all. Labour missed an opportunity to cleanse and rebuild this last term, and they are still promoting party picks more than fresh new talent.

    The lists are poorly used. It’s nuts that MPs like Key, English and Goff have electorates they are supposed to represent as well as all their party and (for those in government) ministerial responsibilities. The list would be more effective as an executive level for a party rather than padded with also-rans. Then electorate MPs could do more to look after their electorates.

    Ideally I’d like to see a party of semi independents comprising of people their for their abillity to run a country rather than get bogged down in ideology. In reality most of the parties overlap far more than they differ now anyway. They don’t argue over capitalism versus socialism, it ‘s more trying to find an effective and pragmatic mix.

    But we’ll keep trundling away much the same unless enough voters wake up to voting smarter rather than reverting to habit or basing votes on reality TV type popularity contests.

    And another thing needs attention – the media needs to be made accountable and responsible, there are too many egos picking their own agendas and asserting too much influence. They don’t care about trashing anyone or any party they choose. Karl du Fresne was right in his article in the Dom today. Media is an integral part of a modern democracy and shouldn’t have free reign to do as they please.

    Comment by Pete George — November 22, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

  15. This argument is the best one for keeping MMP.

    Letting the politicians loose on an electoral system is like letting
    a stoat rule the chicken run.

    The system is not perfect. No government system is.

    Personally I could live with STV but I am not prepared to vote for change
    on the off chance that is what will happen.

    Democracy demands eternal vigilance on the part of the electors.

    Our MMP system has some minor irritating factors but generally works well in reconciling different viewpoints.

    It ain’t broke. don’t fix it.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — November 22, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

  16. nommopilot: The trouble is that if you vote for a change from MMP you won’t actually be supporting a change to STV, but a change to whatever the majority decide which is highly unlikely to do better than FPP

    Andrew or someone else could correct me if I’m wrong, but I think a failure to stick with MMP this referendum will result in the government possibly calling a later referendum to choose between MMP and the alternative system, so it’s not an automatic switch to FPP and it’ll still be a challenge for those who wanted FPP to beat out everyone who really really doesn’t.

    I think it’s a shame in some ways that we’re using an FPP system for the second part of the referendum, instead of something like PV. In future I wonder if it might be worth looking at the possibility of using alternative systems for referendums where it’s necessary to pick one or more options from multiple choices. I’m not too sure what the legal issues are around this right now.

    Comment by MikeM — November 22, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

  17. “…Ideally I’d like to see a party of semi independents comprising of people (known) for their abillity to run a country rather than get bogged down in ideology. ..”

    What a load of balderdash! Just the sort of glib, shallow nonsense I would expect from a small-town twit inexplicably besotted with the bouffant fool of Ohariu! Ability to run the country? According to who? The Business Round Table? Federated Farmers? The CTU? The guy at the petrol station? This utopian idea of an apolitical, supreme council is rife in authoritarian middle aged white men – because being authoritarian middle aged white men what they really mean is a group of people just like them.

    Society is more complex than that. It has competing values and imperatives. Your one-party state of the omnipotently wise might work on a hokey planet in the Star Trek universe, but here on earth someone who I think might be just peachy to run country is going to drive someone else to apoplexy.

    And that is why we have a democracy.

    I think MMP is an excellent electoral system. It has delivered better and more exact representation of the entire population and it has done a fine job of halting the executive hijacking of power that went on under FPP. The only unitended consequence that I don’t like is the creation of an insulated class of career mangerialist politicians, who short of the total extinction of their party are guaranteed a seat in the house via the list. So if could tweek it, I would like to see the threshold lowered to 3%, the inability to be both on the list and stand in an electorate, the electorate seat lifeboat provision done away with, term limits on list only MP’s and the Maori seats abolished.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 22, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

  18. No one pretends that MMP is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that MMP is the worst acronym in western liberal democracy except all those other acronyms that have been tried from time to time.

    Comment by Conor Roberts — November 22, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

  19. Danyl’s argument is very valid and one I agree with too.

    Comment by Nick K — November 22, 2011 @ 10:17 pm

  20. “STV has all the advantages of MMP”

    Nah. One advantage of MMP is that you can elect a really good local MP from a really sucky party without it changing the result. STV doesn’t have that.

    Even if STV were better than MMP, it is going to come third in that race so anyone vho votes for changing to STV is actually voting for SM/FPP.

    I predict that STV will defeat SM. SM may not come last, but I reckon it will be close.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — November 22, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  21. So if could tweek it, I would like to see the threshold lowered to 3%

    Why have a threshold at all? If a group of wackos living in the same electorate can elect a crazy person, shouldn’t a group of wackos distributed across the country be able to do the same?

    Personally I’m not convinced that having the occasional flamboyant representative (and representatives of real people are what they are) in the house is a danger to democracy. Realistically they only have serious dog-wagging power if they larger parties refuse to meet on common ground.

    Comment by MikeM — November 22, 2011 @ 10:30 pm

  22. @MikeM: “Andrew or someone else could correct me if I’m wrong, but I think a failure to stick with MMP this referendum will result in the government possibly calling a later referendum to choose between MMP and the alternative system, so it’s not an automatic switch to FPP and it’ll still be a challenge for those who wanted FPP to beat out everyone who really really doesn’t.”

    This referendum is “non-binding” in that if people vote to reject MMP in Part 1, the next Parliament still would have to pass legislation to enable another referendum (in 2014) between MMP and the most popular alternative. But I’d wager a years salary that it would do so … welshing on it would bring down seven kinds of plague on its head.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 22, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

  23. “Why have a threshold at all? If a group of wackos living in the same electorate can elect a crazy person, shouldn’t a group of wackos distributed across the country be able to do the same?”

    Yes!

    Comment by nommopilot — November 22, 2011 @ 10:38 pm

  24. “so it’s not an automatic switch to FPP and it’ll still be a challenge for those who wanted FPP to beat out everyone who really really doesn’t.”

    voting for a change is still a big step on the way back to the good old days of first past the post. Oh the funtimes…

    Comment by nommopilot — November 22, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

  25. There’s another reason not to “vote for change”. The review of MMP Danyl references ONLY happens if people vote to keep MMP. If people vote “no” to MMP, then MMP as it stands is put up against the most popular alternative. So by voting for change, you are likely to get a choice in 2014 between MMP with present flaws and FPP.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 22, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

  26. The review of MMP Danyl references ONLY happens if people vote to keep MMP.

    Only happens *automatically*. Labour has previously said they’ll hold it anyone if they’re in government, and there’s nothing to stop National having this review (or agreeing to have the review as part of a deal with, for example, the Greens. More legislation would not be needed.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — November 22, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

  27. Best reason to keep MMP?
    National doesn’t like it, because according to a complaint from Bill English: “The MMP electoral system has forced governments to secure public support for major policy changes.”

    Also all the crazy and career politicians will just hide inside the larger parties, rather than setting up their own. Winston Peters was elected in nine times as part of the old FPP National Party, for example.

    Comment by Flynn the Cat — November 22, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

  28. @ Graeme: Yes, well, Labour aren’t going to be in Government, are they? And National isn’t going to need to do a deal with the Greens, is it? And do you really think National are going to go back and rework Simon Power’s referendum process (+ spend money on this)? So – I stand by my claim … the review of MMP Danyl references ONLY happens if people vote to keep MMP.

    @ Flynn: I don’t think it’s really accurate to describe English’s comments as “a complaint” … in fact he says “Insofar as MMP forces you to pay attention to taking the public along with you, then in the long run that may not be a bad thing.”

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 23, 2011 @ 7:29 am

  29. @ Andrew

    “Yes, well, Labour aren’t going to be in Government, are they?”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The whole situation is so volatile that I wouldn’t bet on that. I won’t be at all surprised if Fa’aGoff pulls a Lazarus stunt.

    When you factor in Epsom, Ohariu, Winston First, possible release of the tea party tapes, debate performances, ACT’s self destruction and who knows what else, anything can happen over the next 3 days.

    Whatever does happen will be a total cockup but it will be fascinating nevertheless.
    🙂

    Comment by Alan Vallis — November 23, 2011 @ 7:47 am

  30. There’s two votes on the ballot: one about whether to keep MMP or not, and the other is what to change to if there is going to be a change.

    As a MMP supporter, how should I vote for vote 2? At the moment I’m thinking FPP because in a run-off between MMP and FPP, MMP stands a good chance. It stands less of a chance against SM and I’m not sure how MMP would fare against about STV. Possibly local body elections have put people off STV (which is not to say it would be so complex for national elections as parties would help electors do their ranking).

    Comment by MeToo — November 23, 2011 @ 8:13 am

  31. I think I’m going to leave the second question blank. I really don’t want a statistic to come up saying 60% of the people who voted in the referedum voted SM (or STV or whatever) and therefore we should change from MMP….

    Nice post Danyl.

    Comment by nw — November 23, 2011 @ 8:25 am

  32. Yes I like it another good reason to vote MMP
    But like MeToo where should my other vote go, no vote or vote for the worst

    Comment by Raymond A Francis — November 23, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  33. Ah, the ironic dilemmas of the referendum part B being adjudicated via FPP.

    FPP’s going to win that one, so you might as well vote what you believe.

    Comment by bradluen — November 23, 2011 @ 8:30 am

  34. MeToo, and Raymond A Francis:

    I recommend voting honestly, not tactically. What you should vote for depends on what it is you like about MMP. If you like MMP because it has a dual vote, where you get to choose both an electorate MP and a party, vote for SM. If you like MMP because there are list MPs, vote for SM. If you like MMP for diversity, or proportionality, or fairness between voters, vote STV, unless you hate numbers.

    Tactically, I would think FPP has a better chance of defeating MMP in a run-off than STV does, so if you’re voting that way, go for STV.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — November 23, 2011 @ 8:58 am

  35. Wot Graeme said … but not voting at all in Part B because you want to improve MMP’s chances in any 2014 run-off seems silly to me. No-one will remember what participation rates were, so it won’t work.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 23, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  36. I will vote for MMP – and then STV. The older reactionaries will vote for FPP, the National Party drones for SM. Voting for STV will ensure none of the alternatives will get much of a boost.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 23, 2011 @ 9:07 am

  37. Only skimmed other comments, sorry if this is already mentioned…
    I’ll be interested to see if other “safe” electorates get used in future elections the way Epsom is right now. Greens is polling too well to be “the Labour small party”, but if a small leftist party were to form, get party vote support up to ~3-5% mark, and then run a candidate endorsed by Labour (this might be where my theory falls over… would anyone listen?) in a safe Labour electorate with the promise of complete coalition servitude, then at least both sides would be exploiting the same loophole.

    National basically can’t lose in Epsom. They either get a single candidate who will always vote with them (Goldsmith, or Banks on his own — ie. Act don’t meet party vote threshold) or if Act does OK on election day they effectively get more seats. I still prefer MMP, but slightly bothered (or maybe just fascinated) by satellite small parties that are just a means to get more seats for the patron party.

    (I also know this isn’t the first time it’s been done in Epsom, but this year it’s getting a lot more press)

    Comment by kimshepherd — November 23, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  38. Alan Henderson, have you actually looked at what happens under STV? In Australia I’ve participated in quite a few STV elections and they produce uniformly unproportional results. To quote the song “John Howard, you couldn’t even get 49% of the vote”… but he was Prime Munster nonetheless. Oz uses single-member electorates in the lower houses and multi-member in the upper (mostly). The single member seats almost all work just like FPP seats, with the occasional upset (and the fact that it’s called an upset should tell you all you need to know). In multi-member seats you get a better proportional spread, but it still costs smaller parties seats to the advantage of bigger ones.

    You also get the weird preference flow effect, where a microparty with 1% or so of the vote can collect a stack of preferences from a major party and end up in parliament ahead of parties with 10x as many primary votes. Which makes the effect of the threshold in NZ’s MMP pale in comparison. I’d have Winston First any day over Family First and Steve Fielding’s faith-based bigotry.

    Comment by MozInOz — November 23, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  39. If you are pro-MMP, not voting in the second question is a mistake – this part will disproportionately be left blank by pro-MMP people, but answered by anti-MMP people. So anti-MMP people get to pick the option that MMP runs off against…

    The only clear choice for me in part 2 is *not* to vote for SM because I really do think it stands a chance in a contest against MMP – it’s soft-FPP combined with soft-MMP, so will appeal to those who have any concerns about MMP at all (I see polls show little public support for SM though.)

    For the electoral system experts out there: if MMP fails at the first hurdle, will there be an actual run-off between MMP and the most favoured alternative? Or can politicians just decide to adopt the favoured alternative? Because that changes my choice.

    Comment by MeToo — November 23, 2011 @ 10:32 am

  40. I’m really hoping MMP wins – if it loses then the most likely scenario is that it goes up against FPP in three years which it will win hands down. However in between the government will use the prospect of a referendum in 2014 to not fix the aspects that are wrong with MMP currently – meaning that ironically a ‘vote for change’ is actually a vote for nothing to change until at least 2015…

    If I could change MMP however I pleased I would go with a 123,123 ranking system on the Electorate and Party Votes (just rank your top three candidates or parties – whether you rank the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis party 7th or 9th is statistically irrelevant to the outcome). This would make the 5% threshold fairer and encourage smaller parties to thrive by ensuring that those people who vote for a party with just a few percent don’t risk wasting their vote and it would get rid of all the electorate sideshows by meaning that you can have viable third party or independent candidates who don’t act as ‘spoilers’.

    If I were to pick a new electoral system altogether I would go with open list proportional and eliminate electorate seats altogether. This would be strongly opposed by a certain parochial element – but I figure you could probably bring them round by explaining that removing the distortions to the proportionality of parliament created by having electorates would also mean removing the distortionary effect of having dedicated Maori seats.

    Oh – and one more thing – the big complaints about unfair party listing processes is not a problem with MMP per se, it’s a problem of the machinery of those parties. Only the Greens have a proper democratic list ranking process that encourages quality candidates (not party lackeys) and encourages mass party membership and political engagement. Just look at the decent debate the Republicans in the US are having over who they want representing them. Imagine if Phil Goff had been required to go through that kind of Primary process rather than just being anointed leader by queen Helen…

    Comment by Richard 29 — November 23, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  41. At the moment I’m thinking FPP because in a run-off between MMP and FPP, MMP stands a good chance.

    I/S is doing this for the same tactical reason, but I can’t bring myself to lend fake support to the people who back FPP. We’d never hear the end of it if FPP had 90% support in part 2 but was still kept out by a 60% MMP vote in part 1.

    I think the FPP chances would also depend on the mood of the nation at the immediate time of the run-off. If a majority National government has just finished selling off screeds of state assets, completely privatised schools and hospitals in an unpopular way, and roasted the brains of every 10th baby born that year for “scientific research”, voters might want to thwart FPP. If it’s been another do-nothing-be-safe National coalition government that stumbles through smiling and perpetually hints and how frustrated it is to have to compromise with others, FPP or other alternatives might stand a better chance. My feeling is that the core of FPP supporters are dying out over time and just want to lump the rest of us with their crappy system, or maybe not.

    Comment by MikeM — November 23, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  42. “For the electoral system experts out there: if MMP fails at the first hurdle, will there be an actual run-off between MMP and the most favoured alternative? Or can politicians just decide to adopt the favoured alternative? Because that changes my choice.”

    there will be a second referendum, pitting the most favoured alternative against MMP. Under the 1956 electoral act, you can’t change the electoral system without doing this (except with a 75% majority in Parliament, which wouldn’t happen).

    Comment by Kahikatea — November 23, 2011 @ 11:16 am

  43. MozInOz: Australia’s 12-senators-per-state distribution contributes to disproportionality. It’s explicitly designed to be un-proportional, so it’s not surprising that using a proportional system doesn’t change that.

    Comment by derp de derp — November 23, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

  44. Under the 1956 electoral act, you can’t change the electoral system without doing this (except with a 75% majority in Parliament, which wouldn’t happen).

    The 1956 Electoral Act has been repealed. The Electoral Act 1993 does have a number of reserved sections, but the existence of MMP is not one of them.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — November 23, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

  45. @Graeme: “The Electoral Act 1993 does have a number of reserved sections, but the existence of MMP is not one of them.”

    Oh, really?

    s.268: Restriction on amendment or repeal of certain provisions
    (1) This section applies to the following provisions (hereinafter referred to as reserved provisions), namely,—

    (f) section 168, relating to the method of voting.

    s.168: Method of voting
    (1) The voter, having received a ballot paper,—

    (b) shall there alone and secretly vote—
    (i) by marking the party vote with a tick within the circle immediately after the name of the party for which the voter wishes to vote; and
    (ii) by marking the electorate vote with a tick within the circle immediately before the name of the constituency candidate for whom the voter wishes to vote.

    Care to explain how you could change from MMP to (say) STV without altering this? (I’ll give you that you could go to SM without changing s.168, but anything else?)

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 23, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

  46. Andrew:

    I’ll give you that you could go to SM without changing s.168, but anything else?

    Couldn’t you go to FPP or a pure list system as well without changing the method of voting? Sections relating to how the vote is counted and how list members are elected don’t seem to be reserved, so you could chuck the bits in s174, s174C, & s178 about counting party votes and s191-193 about allocating list seats, and then you’ve got FPP.

    Comment by derp de derp — November 23, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

  47. derp-de-derp – you are right about that … s.168(2)&(3) has provisions for where the ballot paper just consists of the electorate vote (i.e. a by-election under MMP) or the party vote (i.e. an election in an electorate where there is only one candidate running) … so I guess these could be press-ganged into covering a switch back to FPP (or a switch to list-only MMP). But you can’t do PV or STV without changing s.168.

    HOWEVER … there’s another problem. Section 268(1)(c) entrenches s.35 … which governs how the number of electorates are determined in NZ. So, this means you could only switch to a 70 seat FPP Parliament, and rules out switching to a list-only MMP system.

    Of course, there’s always the option of a bare parliamentary majority just repealing s.268(1) altogether, then doing whatever the hell it likes …

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 23, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

  48. I’m happy with my statement. I asserted that the existence of MMP was not entrenched.

    We could do all of the following things without touching a reserved section:

    1. Get rid of the party vote.
    2. Get rid of the right to nominate electorate candidates (but not electorates).
    3. Get rid of the electorate vote.
    4. Lower the number of list MPs to zero.
    5. Change the party vote so that it only applies to the list seats.
    6. Change the form of the ballot paper (s 150, and schedule 2, form 11) so that it advises people to vote with numbers, and change the counting of the votes so that a majority is needed which is ascertained by looking at the numbers.
    7. Increase the number of MPs elected from each electorate.
    8. Create a second House of Parliament, elected in a completely different way🙂

    Given these things, I cannot see how my assertion can be disputed.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — November 23, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

  49. “1. Get rid of the party vote.”
    True … but only if you’re prepared to have 70 electorates returning MPs to Parliament.

    “2. Get rid of the right to nominate electorate candidates (but not electorates).”
    True … but nonsensical. Note the Representation Commission would still have to do its job.

    “3. Get rid of the electorate vote (but not electorates).”
    True … but nonsensical.Note the Representation Commission would still have to do its job.

    “4. Lower the number of list MPs to zero.”
    True … but only if you’re prepared to have 70 electorates returning MPs to Parliament.

    “5. Change the party vote so that it only applies to the list seats.”
    True – SM can be introduced without touching the entrenched sections.

    “6. Change the form of the ballot paper (s 150, and schedule 2, form 11) so that it advises people to vote with numbers, and change the counting of the votes so that a majority is needed which is ascertained by looking at the numbers.”
    That would impliedly repeal s.168(1). Can Parliament impliedly repeal that which it cannot expressly change? Highly unlikely.

    “7. Increase the number of MPs elected from each electorate.”
    But only by means of ticks, with voters limited to ticking a single candidate in each electorate.

    “8. Create a second House of Parliament, elected in a completely different way.”
    How’s that “getting rid of MMP”?

    Thus, while your assertion can’t be disputed in a narrow, technical sense, the fact is that the only way to get rid of MMP without changing entrenched provisions of the Electoral Act would be to move to SM (with 70 electorates only, but) or FPP (with 70 electorates only, but). So … true, but trivially so.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 23, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

  50. We could also move to single non-transferable vote (my point 7). Maybe this is the half-way house we are looking for🙂

    That would impliedly repeal s.168(1). Can Parliament impliedly repeal that which it cannot expressly change? Highly unlikely.

    Does this mean that the Maori seats are entrenched, because the membership of the Representation Commission for the setting of Maori constituency boundaries is in a reserved section?

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — November 24, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  51. Hmmm … interesting question! I guess you could argue that repealing the Maori seats without doing anything about the representation commission membership does not create the sort of direct contradiction necessary for implied repeal to kick in (i.e. you can have a legal rule saying “no Maori seats” alongside a section saying what the representation commission must look like when its purpose is to determine the Maori seats … it’s just this purpose will never arise). It’s messy, but both legal rules can apply without one being breached.

    The problem with just changing the instructions on the ballot paper whilst not changing s.168 is that you’d then have two completely contradictory pieces of law in operation … raising the question, which one is paramount? And while usually the later-in-time would be, can that be the case where the earlier in time is entrenched?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 24, 2011 @ 11:15 am


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