The Dim-Post

February 14, 2012

MMP Review

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:09 am

The Electoral Commission has a new website where you can submit on the MMP review. The issues under discussion are:

  • the thresholds for the allocation of list seats,
  • list members contesting by-elections,
  • the rules allowing candidates to both contest an electorate and be on a party list,
  • the rules for ordering candidates on party lists,
  • the effect of a party winning more electorate seats than its party vote share entitles it to,
  • the effects of the ratio of electorate seats to list seats on proportionality in certain circumstances, and
  • other matters referred to the Commission by the Minister of Justice or Parliament.

My worthless take on these:

Thresholds: I think that if you win enough votes to get a seat, you should get a seat. The fear is that this will lead to Italian/Israeli style proportional politics, with loads of tiny parties wielding disproportionate power and leading to fragile governments and repeated elections. Well, maybe it’ll work like that: New Zealand’s experience of MMP is that coalition partners don’t really get much, other than a Ministerial salary and limo and some token policy, and the voters tend to punish them into oblivion in subsequent elections.

The status quo – the Conservatives got about 33,000 more votes than ACT, but ACT gets two Ministerial roles, two Associate Ministerial roles, while the Conservatives don’t even get an MP – just isn’t democratic. The arbitrary cut-off at 5% and the electorate seat loophole leads to strategic voting, in which people in some electorates vote for parties they wouldn’t normally support, because it might give their preferred party more MPs in a coalition arrangement.

If this doesn’t work out we can always change it a couple elections down the line.

List members contesting by-elections: Why not? It’s about who you want representing your local electorate. Why should List MPs be excluded?

The rules allowing candidates to both contest an electorate and be on a party list: Again, why not? I tend to think this is a complaint made by people who just don’t like MMP, rather than a valid problem with the system. If an electorate candidate loses by a couple of percentage points have they really been deselected by the electorate? What if the vote happened to split (as it tends to with Green/Labour MPs)? Under the current system many electorates get multiple MPs representing them, which can only be a good thing.

The rules for ordering candidates on party lists: Like the previous two issues, this is a way to control the way politicians and parties operate under the MMP system. But we already have a way to do that – voting. If you vote out an MP in your electorate and they’re high on their party list then you can chose not to vote for that party. And successful parties will respond rationally to this and chose not to stand extremely unpopular MPs on their lists. If ordering candidates is really important to voters, then parties that do so in a democratic manner will flourish over those that don’t.

In principle, the more complex and proscribed the electoral system, the more you create unintended consequences and loopholes that politicians will find and exploit. The election itself is the correct feedback mechanism to tell parties and MPs you don’t like the way they’re doing things.

I don’t really have opinions on the final two issues.

103 Comments »

  1. I think I would prefer something like the Israeli system where you vote for parties only. Decide on what should be the electorate size and then divide that into the votes each party gets. That will decide the number of seats. For instance if electorates are 30,000 people and your party gets 90,000 votes you get three seats
    It would be a cleaner system. Forget the electorate voting all together. Would also stop the electorate gerrymandering that seems to happen when the new seats are drawn up.

    Comment by Ron — February 14, 2012 @ 7:33 am

  2. I tend to think this is a complaint made by people who just don’t like MMP, rather than a valid problem with the system.

    Yup.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 14, 2012 @ 7:42 am

  3. Thresholds: I used to support the threshold, on the same grounds as you do – stability of government in this case trumping (slightly) better democracy. But the ACT farce has changed my mind. The threshold should be reduced to a formula of 1/60th of enrolled voters in order to qualify for a seat.

    List members contesting by-elections: Agree with you.

    The rules allowing candidates to both contest an electorate and be on a party list: Agree with you, with the proviso that we introduce term limits for MPs who appear on the list. Under the current system, the two main parties have a core of around 15-20 MP’s who can never be voted out. This creates an entrenched political elite in each party that is self-serving, increasingly corrupt and managerialist in it’s approach to policy. It also makes a career as a professional politician an attractive proposition. The likes of a Holly Smith can come into parliament with zero life experience and become a lifelong politician as long as the Greens stay above the current threshold. I don’t think career politicians are good for democracy. Nine years elected off the list is long enough. If you have not made an impact by then, you never will. If you win a seat, you deserve to represent that seat as long as the voters of that electorate are prepared to return you.

    The rules for ordering candidates on party lists: Agree – and the issue of high list candidates being repeatedly returned is covered by term limits.

    the effects of the ratio of electorate seats to list seats on proportionality in certain circumstances: A triviality, this seems mainly a dog whistle attack on the Maori seats.

    other matters referred to the Commission by the Minister of Justice or Parliament: I would like to see the end of the South Island quota and the simple fixing of electorate seats at one per 1.5% of enrolled voters, plus the maori seats.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 14, 2012 @ 8:01 am

  4. ” And successful parties will respond rationally to this and chose not to stand extremely unpopular MPs on their lists.”

    Successful being the operative word.

    Comment by ihstewart — February 14, 2012 @ 8:01 am

  5. Not sure what a previous response is about. Hollie Smith is a perfectly respectable songstress and can enter politics if she wants but as far as I know she hasn’t. I wonder if you mean Holly Walker? who is a member of Greens but on reading her CV it sounds like she has way more experience than say John Key.

    Comment by Ron — February 14, 2012 @ 8:12 am

  6. personally I think it would advance our democracy more if this review included election finance. then we could make a real push to a) stop parties using blind trusts to hide their donors and b) make parties include spending on market research in the election budget, thus lowering the maximum that national, for example, cd spend significantly. with these issues the only really impt one seems to be the threshold. and maybe the south island thing but hard to get worked up about what won’t be a real problem for years….

    Comment by Amy — February 14, 2012 @ 8:36 am

  7. I pretty much agree with Danyls thoughts.

    One of the keys to getting the best out of any electoral system – and whether we tweak MMP or not – is how it is implemented. That’s up to parties to use whatever system we have to provide party members and voters transparent practical democracy (and not to misuse it to suit their own internal power plays). And it’s up to voters to vote more and vote smarter and better informed.

    Two related things not on the list but a big part of our political (and especially electoral) processes are polling – especially in the weeks leading up to an election – and media, who are as abusive of our democratic system as any other group. Both polls and media can and do directly influence the outcome of elections.

    Comment by Pete George — February 14, 2012 @ 8:50 am

  8. The one that bugs me is list MP’s fannying around with some psuedo official presence in the electorate they lost (see Charles Chauvel in Ohariu etc).

    If you are a list MP you should have to move to Wellington or commute on your dime. You essentially applied for a job that is based in Wellington and like anyone else who apllies for a job in a different town you should have to move there (happy to pay for a moving truck for their stuff).

    If the party that was the loser in an electoral seat wants a presence there then it should be up to the party to fund the office. List MP’s should not be given dough for that.

    List MP’s are not regional representatives and if we stopped treating them like they are we might see an end to this vote for 1 get one free argument that gets thrown around during the campaign.

    Comment by King Kong — February 14, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  9. @Ron – My apologies to you and more importantly to that fine artist Hollie Smith, I did indeed mean Holly Walker. My reason for choosing her is that people (for example Bryce Edwards) like to make a point of railing against “out-of-touch” mangerialist politicians in labour like (most obviously) Trevor Mallard or Grant Robertson, yet in the same breath they hail Holly Walker as some sort of angel whose elevation into in the political firmament as a careerist politician is an unalloyed joy to be celebrated with Hosannas to Gaia. I wanted to illustrate that if someone agrees that we don’t want any career politicians, then it should be clear that it is exactly that – we “don’t want any career politicians” and not we “don’t want any career politicians THAT WE DON’T LIKE”.

    @Amy – I am not sure electoral finance reform comes under the ambit of MMP reform.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 14, 2012 @ 9:10 am

  10. “The one that bugs me is list MP’s fannying around with some psuedo official presence in the electorate they lost (see Charles Chauvel in Ohariu etc).”

    Why? In most cases, large numbers of people in those electorates still wanted that person to represent their views, and they might have issues that the elected MP is ignoring. All MPs are supposed to travel and talk to people and get with the issues, or they’re useless in parliament, and if a party’s going to divide its list MPs geographically then they may as well go to where people know them.

    Comment by MikeM — February 14, 2012 @ 9:31 am

  11. Holly Walker is a Rhodes Scholar with a degree in Development Studies from Oxford and an electorate in one of the most socially deprived regions of urban New Zealand. At number 12 on the Green list, I don’t think she expected to enter Parliament at this election, and she hardly has the kind of job-security she might enjoy in some other, more lucrative, career. “Career politician” perhaps, but I’m rather glad we have talented, passionate, and committed people entering parliament on our behalf (disclaimer: I happen to know Holly Walker). Of course, MMP also gives us the likes of Richard Prosser and Andrew Williams, but for that we have no one to blame but ourselves.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — February 14, 2012 @ 9:32 am

  12. “The rules allowing candidates to both contest an electorate and be on a party list: Agree with you, with the proviso that we introduce term limits for MPs who appear on the list. Under the current system, the two main parties have a core of around 15-20 MP’s who can never be voted out. This creates an entrenched political elite in each party that is self-serving, increasingly corrupt and managerialist in it’s approach to policy. It also makes a career as a professional politician an attractive proposition. The likes of a Holly Smith can come into parliament with zero life experience and become a lifelong politician as long as the Greens stay above the current threshold. I don’t think career politicians are good for democracy. Nine years elected off the list is long enough. If you have not made an impact by then, you never will. If you win a seat, you deserve to represent that seat as long as the voters of that electorate are prepared to return you.”

    I’m with you on this, except that I think *all* MPs should be subject to term limits. I fail to see how having the likes of Peter Dunne bouncing around parliament for 30 years, throwing his hat in with whoever is in charge at any given moment, benefits anyone. So what if he’s been voted in by an electorate? Why should the people of Ohariu get to keep foisting idiots like him on the whole country?

    Increase each term to four years, and allow a maximum of three. If you can’t achieve anything in twelve years, you shouldn’t be there.

    But yeah, otherwise I’m with Danyl and Sanc on most everything, especially the threshold bit.

    Comment by The Green Blazer — February 14, 2012 @ 9:37 am

  13. “…“Career politician” perhaps, but I’m rather glad we have talented, passionate, and committed people entering parliament on our behalf (disclaimer: I happen to know Holly Walker). ..”

    I think this is a bit of a QED on my point, don’t you?

    “Get rid of the dork who is a trougher sneaking back in on the list even though everyone him/her; All hail entrenching into parliament forever the talented, passionate, and committed Holly Walker!”

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 14, 2012 @ 9:40 am

  14. Lets try that last bit again….

    “Get rid of that dork (insert politician Higgs Boatswain doesn’t like here) who is a trougher sneaking back in on the list even though everyone hates him/her; All hail entrenching into parliament forever the talented, passionate, and committed Holly Walker!”

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 14, 2012 @ 9:42 am

  15. Re accountability of list MPs, Jack Vowles analysis of the situation in NZ reveals that counter to some public comment, there isn’t actually a problem:
    http://www.jackvowlesdomain.co.uk/Accountability_MMP.pdf

    An extract from his conclusion:
    “…list MPs are more likely to be defeated or stand down and be obliged or pressured to resign for impropriety than are
    electorate MPs.

    …. Even with the list as a bolt-hole in some cases, list MPs are still more likely to face removal from Parliament than electorate MPs. Those electorate
    MPs who do survive on the list mostly do so for only one term and, if not, there may be good reasons for their parties to ‘keep them on’. And if there are
    imperfections in the process of accountability for list MPs, the process by which electorate MPs are held to account is not perfect either.

    The most secure and therefore unaccountable MPs are those whose electorate seats are invulnerable to even the strongest electoral surge against their party: a
    significant proportion by most estimates.”

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  16. I’m with you on this, except that I think *all* MPs should be subject to term limits.

    Agreed.

    And further to your point MeToo, what appears not to have been taken into account in the term limitation discussion is the effective capture exerted on the party apparatus by careerist troughers like Mallard, who then justify their presence by ‘winning’ a safe seat.

    It’s certainly can’t be his personality that holds Hutt Sth captive.

    I’m pretty sure you could dress the cold, dead corpse of Ayn Rand up in a Labour rosette in Mallard’s stead and it would hold the seat in perpetuity.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 11:45 am

  17. “I’m pretty sure you could dress the cold, dead corpse of Ayn Rand up in a Labour rosette in Mallard’s stead and it would hold the seat in perpetuity.”

    would probably manage to steal some of the ACT vote as well🙂

    Comment by nommopilot — February 14, 2012 @ 11:53 am

  18. Threshold: Either none or 3%.
    Coat-tail rule: Get rid of it.
    On list and running locally – No problems with this. If you change it so people can’t be on both, then what you will see is parties with no chance of winning locally simply not standing anyone at all in the local seats. Why waste a good candidate if they can’t also be on the list?
    Party lists: I can see opening them up to some kind of preferential voting provided you gave that party your tick.
    Local electorates: Get rid of them. My local MP has *never* actually represented my views and values. The list MPs do a MUCH better job for me.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — February 14, 2012 @ 11:59 am

  19. …who then justify their presence by ‘winning’ a safe seat. It’s certainly can’t be his personality that holds Hutt Sth captive.

    I have trouble understanding the logic of “safe seats” under MMP except by reasoning that humans don’t always act rationally. Is that the only reason that safe seats still exist? Or maybe Hutt South voters actually like Trevor Mallard and think he does useful work for them.

    Comment by MikeM — February 14, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  20. its a sad day when i agree with sanctuary
    i too think the threshold should be 3%
    but we also have to accept as voters that governments might not last 3 years
    but its the trade off between demoracy vrs governence

    Comment by graham lowe — February 14, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

  21. @Ron: having just list MPs isn’t MMP. The original Royal Commission rejected such a system without giving the voters a chance to consider it, which has apparently ruled it out for all time. (I don’t understand why when we had a choice of two mixed systems, two preferential voting systems and FPP).

    Comment by Rich — February 14, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  22. I favour a threshold of enough votes to elect a parliamentary party. One person is not a party, so I’d put the threshold at the quota for two seats.

    Comment by Rich — February 14, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  23. I have trouble understanding the logic of “safe seats” under MMP except by reasoning that humans don’t always act rationally.

    You did catch the results of the last election, right?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  24. On list and running locally – No problems with this. Why waste a good candidate if they can’t also be on the list?

    I agree. If candidates can’t stand for both the list and an electorate many would take the safer list route, and it would substantialy devalue many electorate contests.

    Local electorates: Get rid of them. My local MP has *never* actually represented my views and values. The list MPs do a MUCH better job for me.

    That’s for you. Many people strongly support (and are well represented by) their electorate MP, so scrapping them would disenfranchise just as much as elimininating list MPs would be against your interests.

    Comment by Pete George — February 14, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  25. Wow, find myself agreeing with so much here. Sanc is worried about the deadwood toughers: with a lowered threshold, would dynamic-types strike out and form new parties with likeminded folk? They need not fear splitting and thus wasting the votes. Is that what is happening at the moment: “don’t vote socialists/libertarian, you’ll only waste your vote, stick with Labour/National”?

    Conversly, could lowered thresholds lead to local parties concerned primarily with local issues, creating problems in a national arena? The “Stop Kapiti Expressway Party” that just doesn’t have the time or inclination to worry about monetary policy, health or education?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 14, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  26. I’m with you on this, except that I think *all* MPs should be subject to term limits.

    I don’t agree with this.Where one voter might see staleness, another may see experience. There’s absolutely no reason to think that a third or fourth term MP is less capable than a new MP. Where would NZ First be without Peters? If (unlikely) they got elected they would be floundering in inexperience.

    A three term or twelve year limit would mean Greens would have to ditch Metiria Turei – is she past her used by date?
    David Cunliffe would not have been able to stand in the last election.

    Electorates and parties should be free to decide who they stand – normally a balance of experience and freshness seems sensible.

    And another point – it’s difficult enough as it is getting sufficient candidates of sufficient quality to stand. Term limits would furthur dilute the collective capability of Parliament.

    Comment by Pete George — February 14, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  27. Term limits would furthur dilute the collective capability of Parliament.

    I didn’t know you were a satirist, Pete.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  28. “Is that the only reason that safe seats still exist? Or maybe Hutt South voters actually like Trevor Mallard and think he does useful work for them”

    Safe seats are safe because electorates are not evenly demographically distributed. For the same reason that Epsom is never going to return a Labour candidate (without some kind of aberrant ACT/Nat vote split) the people of Hutt South are very unlikely to return a National candidate. Mostly it’s to do with house prices.

    And because electorates (except in “special” cases like Ohariu) are still largely 2 horse races with some complications due to vote-splitting.

    I think the one of biggest problems with our version of MMP is the fact that the electorates still don’t allow much competition from smaller parties. I would like to see larger electorates (say, 20) with 3 electorate candidates elected in each, decided by STV. Parties could field up to 3 candidates.

    This would make things more complex, but it would allow voters to vote for the candidate they want to without feeling like they are damaging their “team’s” chances. ie. I could vote for a green candidate knowing that if they weren’t successful my 2nd preference would still support the labour candidate. It annoys me to have to vote “strategically” instead of for the people I actually support. Most of the small parties are small because the risk of wasting your vote means people will not risk voting for them (also why we should scrap the threshhold).

    Comment by nommopilot — February 14, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  29. ps Definitely consider increasing terms to 4 years to increase the number of years these feckers actually get on with work rather than campaigning… although lowered threshold many lead to more frequent elections. Does this mean we should dabble with a lowered-threshold rather than none? 2% or 66,000 votes?
    If lowered threshold allow fresher talent into parliament, limits on the number of terms an MP can serve may not be necessary. If they are a good MP or Minister, surely we want to continue to see them use their talents? If they turn a bit stale over time, switch one’s vote with the confidence that it is unlikely to be “wasted”?
    How about the Electoral Commission running the blind trusts for parties? As part of the registration system, you get that service from the EC. Could the law require ALL donations go through the EC? Outlaw “private” blind trusts: a party decides whether all its donations will be are either fully-reported and public (received & receipted via EC), or private and blind/undisclosed (also via the EC).
    One can then decide whether to (attempt) to buy a policy (or knighthood, etc) by donating to the fully-reporting Purple Party, or support the blind-trust funded Orange Party, which has a manifesto of which one approves.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 14, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  30. Pete’s responding to Hugh and Merv on the other thread.

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  31. Some communities do not exist geographically, rather they are bounded by shared beliefs and preferences. Why should they be denied representation?
    http://afinetale.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/every-vote-counts.html

    Comment by alex — February 14, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

  32. Some communities do not exist geographically, rather they are bounded by shared beliefs and preferences. Why should they be denied representation?

    They aren’t denied representation.
    It’s called the party vote.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  33. alex – they should have equivalent representation whether they stand for an electorate or a list orientated constituency.

    I don’t think we should start from the current setup and argue tweaks to better representation from there. We should start from a position of every vote counts as equally as possible, and only move from there if there is a decent argument why we should.

    Tail wagging, nutty small parties and list via the back door are not valid arguments, invariably they are unsubstantiated claims by people who want their party’s chances enhanced at the expence of others – and they are the ones who complain most when the other lot/s gets in.

    Comment by Pete George — February 14, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

  34. “Tail wagging, nutty small parties and list via the back door are not valid arguments”

    LOL

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  35. @Clunking Fist,

    The Electoral Commission already runs a “blind trust” style avenue for donations to political parties. See here: http://www.elections.org.nz/rules/parties/donations/make-donation-protected-from-disclosure.html

    As for “blind trusts” giving directly to parties, this was basically undercut by the much-maligned Electoral Finance Act, in provisions retained by National in 2009. Basically, if you give more than $1500 to a trust in order to fund a donation to a party, then it has to know who you are and tell the party when the donation is handed over. If you then give more than $15,000 to a party (directly or via a trust or in combination) then the party has to identify you in its annual disclosure.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 14, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  36. “Tail wagging, nutty small parties and list via the back door are not valid arguments”

    You stood for United Future which is an utterly nutty party currently wagging the government (although not too vigorously – just sensible wagging levels, of course), so you would be expected to argue that.

    “We should start from a position of every vote counts as equally as possible”

    So: No electorates, 1 vote for party only? Party lists decided by their membership or internal constitutions? No threshhold?… I could actually get behind that… potentially

    Comment by nommopilot — February 14, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

  37. Agree on all Danyl’s points except the rule about candidates sitting on the party list AND and in an electorate.

    This stinks because it denies voters the opportunity to get rid of a rubbish MP. I’m sorry, the argument that a party won’t keep waste-of-space time servers on its list just doesn’t carry any weight.

    I also think 100 MPs each representing 1% of the vote has a clean, metric feel to it. Before anyone suggests that’s anal-retentive, I’m fine with the overhang rule remaining.

    Comment by billbennettnz — February 14, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  38. So: No electorates

    Why exclude those who get their representation from electorates? Scrapping electorates could lead to centralising political power and neglecting the provinces. Like the TV media we could end up with everything being dictated from Auckland, with a bit of token say in Wellington.

    No electorates seems to be a favourite suggestion of Greens, because they don’t do electorates, except to use them for campaign publicity.

    In any case ditching electorates is not an option in the forseeable future.

    Comment by Pete George — February 14, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  39. Gregor 32 – Well actually, given that some communities are denied representation because their support is spread across the country, rather than in a small geographic pocket, your comment is rather foolish.

    Comment by alex — February 14, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  40. alex – WTF are you talking about?

    The party vote isn’t geographically dependent last time I checked.
    The might be denied representation by a threshold @ 5% but not because of where they live.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  41. This stinks because it denies voters the opportunity to get rid of a rubbish MP.

    Ever lived in a safe seat? MMP isn’t alone in ensuring party hacks stay in Parliament.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 14, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

  42. Some communities do not exist geographically, rather they are bounded by shared beliefs and preferences

    I’ve advocated this – that any group that can define itself and get an electorate sized group of people to sign up can have their own non-geographical electorate. (Farmers? Students?). This could encompass Maori seats.

    Of course it would never really happen, but the choice would exist.

    Comment by Rich — February 14, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  43. @billbennettnz:”Agree on all Danyl’s points except the rule about candidates sitting on the party list AND and in an electorate. This stinks because it denies voters the opportunity to get rid of a rubbish MP. I’m sorry, the argument that a party won’t keep waste-of-space time servers on its list just doesn’t carry any weight.”

    Why not? Its bourne out by actual evidence. In the elections since 1996, an average of 5 MPs per election have been defeated in electorates, but returned on the list. The vast majority of them then either resign before the next election, or are dropped so far down the list as to miss reelection at it.

    So – consider Labour in 2008 … its defeated electorate MPs who came back on the list were Darren Hughes, Steve Chadwick, Lynne Pillay and Damien O’Conner. Hughes went (in extraordinary circumstances … but was he really a “waste-of-space time server”?), Chadwick didn’t stand in 2011, Pillay is back, and O’Conner retook his electorate (calling into question how personal the rejection of him was in ’08). Given this, the problem is … ?

    @GregorW – I think alex’s point is that there should be no threshold, so that a “constituency” of people who happen not to live beside each other are just as able to elect an MP to represent them as are the citizens of Dunedin North/Dunedin South/etc. So his target IS the 5% threshold.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 14, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

  44. to represent them as are the citizens of Dunedin North/Dunedin South/etc.

    That raises an interesting theoretical concept of flexible electorates – would Dunedin city be better served by a single 2 MP electorate rather than be split in half?

    It would get complicated by changing population patterns.

    Comment by Pete George — February 14, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  45. @AG

    I get that.

    I guess it the inference that some ‘communities’ are denied their democratic rights by not having the party they voted for in parliament is what I find strange.

    Unless the hypothetical ‘constituency’ puts all of their ideological eggs in one basket, I’m don’t see it as a big deal. It’s like saying ‘All people who vote Green do so for the same reasons’ which is sort of absurd.

    Then again, maybe I’m reading too much into it.

    So I agree, set the threshold lower. The operative question is ‘at what level’? And at the same time, do you get rid of the skew (which will always exist to some degree) by trashing the electorate seats?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

  46. Sanctuary wrote: “The likes of a Holly Smith (sic) can come into parliament with zero life experience and become a lifelong politician as long as the Greens stay above the current threshold.”

    And so long as the Green Party members don’t decide to get rid of her. If we’re unsatisfied with her performance, we could decide not to vote for her to get such a good list position next time, like we did with Ian Ewen-Street. And if we continue to support her but voters don’t, they can either (a) join the party to get their own say on the party list, or (b) stop voting for us because they don’t like our list-ordering.

    Comment by kahikatea — February 14, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  47. Pete G: “That raises an interesting theoretical concept of flexible electorates – would Dunedin city be better served by a single 2 MP electorate rather than be split in half?”

    Nothing theoretical about it … it’s what NZ had 1903.

    @Gregor W: “I guess it the inference that some ‘communities’ are denied their democratic rights by not having the party they voted for in parliament is what I find strange.”

    I guess the argument is that if 30,000-odd voters who share the common feature of happening to live in Dunedin North or South or wherever get to have their own MP in Parliament, and 13-14,000 of those voters get to decide who that MP will be, then why shouldn’t 30,000 voters spread across the country who happen to like the One True Issue That Matters Party get their MP in the House as well? If it goes beyond this, then I’m lost, too.

    My own personal thought is that a party vote threshold can only be justified in terms of institutional needs – either the need for a stable environment for coalition formation (which is why Germany, home of MMP, retains a 5% threshold for national Bundestag elections, despite having junked them for European and local council elections) or the need to ensure there are genuine party teams in Parliament that can properly carry out the full range of their representative duties.

    @ kahikatea: “And if we continue to support her but voters don’t, they can either (a) join the party to get their own say on the party list, or (b) stop voting for us because they don’t like our list-ordering.”

    Or (c) form armed cells and wage revolutionary war from our base in Te Urewera. Oh dear … too soon?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 14, 2012 @ 7:00 pm

  48. Nothing theoretical about it … it’s what NZ had 1903.

    Theoretical this century. Certainly won’t happen with this review.

    Comment by Pete George — February 14, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

  49. > If you vote out an MP in your electorate and they’re high on their party list then you can chose not to vote for that party. And successful parties will respond rationally to this and chose not to stand extremely unpopular MPs on their lists.

    But what about the Labour Party? Shouldn’t their supporters be allowed to fix their list for them?

    Comment by Kiwi Poll Guy — February 14, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  50. “But what about the Labour Party? Shouldn’t their supporters be allowed to fix their list for them?”

    hopefully the party will realise the need to do this while it still has supporters…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 14, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

  51. “My own personal thought is that a party vote threshold can only be justified in terms of institutional needs”

    I agree and I think we should try abolishing it and see if there is an institutional need.. I doubt it, and I would love to see an end to the ridiculous circus that is Epsom every fricking election

    Comment by nommopilot — February 14, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

  52. @nommopilot: “I doubt it, and I would love to see an end to the ridiculous circus that is Epsom every fricking election… .”

    Sure – but you can end the Epsom problem just by getting rid of the “electorate lifeboat” alternative to the threshold. In other words, winning Epsom only gets you one seat – Epsom. There’s no necessary connection between doing this and having any particular party vote threshold in place.

    Comment by Grassed Up — February 14, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

  53. Andrew Geddis wrote: “…Or (c) form armed cells and wage revolutionary war from our base in Te Urewera. Oh dear … too soon?”

    Indeed it is way too soon to start planning armed cells and revolutionary war to overthrow Holly Walker. She hasn’t even done her maiden speech yet.

    Comment by kahikatea — February 14, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

  54. @AndrewGeddis – “In the elections since 1996, an average of 5 MPs per election have been defeated in electorates, but returned on the list. The vast majority of them then either resign before the next election, or are dropped so far down the list as to miss reelection at it.”

    Fair enough, but that still means 5 MPs per Parliament are automatically lame ducks. It would be better all round if there were none. (Although I accept this is a hopelessly idealistic view)

    Comment by billbennettnz — February 15, 2012 @ 9:27 am

  55. [i](Although I accept this is a hopelessly idealistic view)[/i]

    No, just a small-minded and pointless one.

    Comment by Jake — February 15, 2012 @ 9:50 am

  56. In my electorate, we had Russel Norman and Finlayson running against Annette King.

    Neither stood a realistic chance.

    If they weren’t allowed on the list, neither would have run in the electorate and we would have had absolute nobodies with absolutely no chance

    I think such a ban would only serve to further entrench the safeness of electorate seats.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 15, 2012 @ 9:54 am

  57. @Jake – Sorry, you’re going to have to spell it out to me. Why do you think not wanting lame-duck MPs is “small minded and pointless”?

    Comment by billbennettnz — February 15, 2012 @ 10:00 am

  58. You’re going to have to explain why you’re using the term “lame duck” first, because as far as I know that is an American term used to describe a President whose party has lost control of both houses, and who therefore cannot act legislation, or who is in the last two months of their final term, and has essentially passed power over to the incoming President.

    What this has to do with New Zealand political structures is beyond me. I mean, really, if Paula Bennet had lost to Carmel Sepuloni by nine votes, instead of the other way around, it would hardly represent a comprehensive rejection by the electorate, and shouldn’t result in the termination of her political career, as much as some of us might like to see the back of her. It makes no sense, and simply implies the thinking of someone who doesn’t understand how MMP works.

    Comment by Jake — February 15, 2012 @ 10:05 am

  59. Especially, I would add, if your solution to the problem is to break the entire system by introducing rules that would prevent people with no chance of winning an electorate from running in one, which has been amply outlined in comments above. Solving a non-problem by breaking the system. Not idealistic, just dumb.

    Comment by Jake — February 15, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  60. From Merriam Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lame+duck

    Definition of LAME DUCK

    1: one that is weak or that falls behind in ability or achievement;

    The term is often used in politics to describe someone who is simply sitting out their time.

    Comment by billbennettnz — February 15, 2012 @ 10:11 am

  61. @Jake. I realise I don’t have your intellect, so you will have to explain the logic in this one: ” introducing rules that would prevent people with no chance of winning an electorate from running in one…. Solving a non-problem by breaking the system.”

    How can preventing something that has no chance of happening from happening break the system?

    Or am I missing some piece of information here?

    Comment by billbennettnz — February 15, 2012 @ 10:17 am

  62. I think you’ll find that your link shows that the political definitions are the ones I described, and don’t apply to newly re-elected MPs.

    Comment by Jake — February 15, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  63. Okay — if the rules are that if you don’t win your electorate then you can’t come in on the list, no one who can get on the list would ever run in an electorate. Carmel Sepuloni, Russell Norman, Jacinda Arden, etc etc, gain a lot of political capital out of running in electorates, and in the case of Sepuloni and Arden had good shots at winning them. They also do good work in those electorates despite being electorate MPs. Without being able to run in electorates, they would not be able to make those connections and every single electorate would become safe, as the only candidates that would ever run would be people with no profile cutting their teeth.

    If, as an alternative, you say that it’s okay to run in an electorate, lose, and come in on the list, but it’s NOT okay to be an electorate MP, lose the electorate, and come in on the list then a) you’re preventing a problem which is not a long-term problem b) interfering with the party’s ability to make their list on their own terms, which is after all the point of MMP and c) scaring good MPs away from marginal electorates which, after all, might swing.

    So, say Paula Bennet lost by nine votes in Waitakere. That’s not many votes. It probably wouldn’t spell the end of her political career although it might have been an embarrassment to National in an otherwise bonanza year. Personally, I don’t like Paula Bennet one little bit, but I accept that turfing her out of parliament on such a small margin is contrary to the principles of MMP, and that she could well enjoy a political career and even take back the electorate in three years. It seems foolish to me to take nine votes (or even one vote) as the basis on which political careers are one or lost.

    And, more to the point, it’s FPP thinking — that system is gone, and a return to it has been roundly rejected. It also makes the system needlessly complicated, to prevent a problem that only occurs for a small percentage of MPs.

    We would all like a higher quality of MPs in parliament, but the way to do that is to get parties to select better candidates, not to find convoluted ways to rig the system at the margins.

    Comment by Jake — February 15, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  64. “Or am I missing some piece of information here?”

    Winning an electoarte is not the same thing as running in one. If you discourage high profile candidates from running in seats they are not likely to win, you prevent them from winning them.

    It’s more likely that a party will win a seat from an encumbant if the challenger has name recognition and is a proven performer, so why discourage those people from running when they have a small chance?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 15, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  65. Sorry for my tone, Bill. I’ve had a long day.

    I just wrote a long post explaining my reasoning, but wordpress seems to have swallowed it, at least temporarily. Basically, either of the solutions to the “problem” would create disincentives to run in electorates that you either know you can’t win, or worry that you might, at some point, lose, and make people flock to the lists, leaving electorates largely uncontested. Seeing as competition in electorates is still a vital place for the battle of ideas, even if the electorates themselves are irrelevant to the composition of parliament, this is a bad thing. Especially because the “problem” only effects a small percentage of MPs anyway — and some of those lose only by small margins, other go on to retake the seat. Are those MPs lame ducks, by any definition?

    I think it is better to take the advice of kahikatea above — if you don’t like the candidates the party you favour is selecting, then get involved in the selection process, rather than attempt to fiddle at the margins.

    Comment by Jake — February 15, 2012 @ 10:35 am

  66. @61… 3 of the candidates contesting Auckland Central are now MPs, all of them up-and-coming politicians garnering a lot of respect.

    If there was a rule against standing on list and electorate then Jacinda Ardern and Denise Roche would both be unable to enter parliament which seems like a fairly obvious flaw with the rule. Are either candidate lame ducks?
    Basically, since most electorates are still 2 horse races, small parties would be discouraged from entering any of their quality candidates in the electorate races, which would prevent them engaging effectively in electorate based debates which would further decrease the quality of our electoral experience.

    If a party has too much dead wood for you, don’t vote for them…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 15, 2012 @ 11:13 am

  67. The most interesting solution I’ve seen to this “problem” of defeated electorate MPs returning on the list is the suggestion that if an electorate MP loses their seat AND receives less votes personally than what their party receives in their electorate then they are banned from entering through the list.

    This has the effect of weeding out anyone particularly unpopular in their local electorate but also protecting them if losing an electorate is largely a result of a national swing against their party.

    Idea blatantly stolen from here: http://fruitsandvotes.com/?p=5946 – recommended read.

    Comment by Bren — February 15, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  68. @65

    I’m still unconvinced that this is really a problem. If a party promotes unpopular people on their list they will be punished by a loss of party support. Look at Labour: the signs were clear from immediately after the election that they needed a change – not just in leadership, but in their whole way of doing things… They had to stumble along for a whole term before doing anything about this. Had they changed their leadership and made some real progress on reforming their party structure immediately after their election loss they may have had a chance in 2011…

    Making complex rules like the one you suggest is more likely to result in people being arbitrarily kept out of parliament. I’d prefer less complexity and less distortion. Let the electorate decide if a party’s list is good enough to win their vote and whether they want to vote for a party that allows their membership some say in the process of ranking their candidates….

    Comment by nommopilot — February 15, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

  69. @nommopilot

    Agreed. I guess I should have noted that I actually support what we have now. I don’t think change is necessary. If you read the blog post I linked to, I came with the impression that the author also supported the status quo. I felt that this was the best alternative I’ve seen – certainly better than banning dual candidacy or ranking list candidates by the number of electorate votes they receive which I keep seeing spouting over the blogs and on the new MMP site.

    Comment by Bren — February 15, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

  70. @Pascal’s bookie

    Exactly. While down the road in Wellington Central we’d lose Grant Robertson to a safe seat or list-only place, and instead have a different newbie every three years. (as no established MP would risk a marginal seat).

    Comment by Rich — February 15, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  71. There should be as few restrictions as possible for people standing for either list or electorate.
    There should be as few distortionary rules on threshholds as possible – preferably none.

    Limits, threshholds, any sort of rules, are open to manipulation – by those who set the rules and by those using the system (parties).

    The starting point should be full proportionality and minimal restrictions, and they should only be restrictive rules if there is a solid case for doing it (that excludes party vested interests).

    Comment by Pete George — February 15, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

  72. @jake – Yep, that makes sense to me. As you say the problem is small. I can see how this could keep good people away from electorates. On the other hand, it’s annoying when an electorate votes against a candidate to see them get back on a list vote.

    Comment by billbennettnz — February 15, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  73. bill – I think more often you get good defeated electorate candidates getting in on the list.

    In Dunedin North as expected David Clark won the seat on the Labour ticket – he’s a nice guy with good credentials and god political prospects but you couldn’t say he won on personal merits.

    The top two defeated candidates go in on the list:
    – Michael Woodhouse, now National whip, who has an electorate office and told me he’s a virtual electorate MP in practice, he’s a dedicated Dunedin MP
    – Metiria Turei, Green co-leader who is busy with her constituents (Greens countrywide more than in the electorate).

    Few should be annoyed at what Woodhouse and Turei offer. Party vote got them both in to parliament – but party vote probably also got Clark in, if he stood for any other party he wouldn’t have won.

    Comment by Pete George — February 15, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  74. “god political prospects” is a typo but I’m sure Rev. Clark would have a laugh at that.

    Comment by Pete George — February 15, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  75. @70 “On the other hand, it’s annoying when an electorate votes against a candidate to see them get back on a list vote.”

    No one is able to vote against a candidate. You can only vote for someone, and each electorate only gets one. If you’re annoyed by the election of any particular MP, welcome to democracy.

    personally, I’m annoyed that heaps of the MPs who got in got in…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 15, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  76. No one is able to vote against a candidate. You can only vote for someone, and each electorate only gets one. If you’re annoyed by the election of any particular MP, welcome to democracy.

    Exactly.

    Frankly, I’m more offended by the fact that a few thousands of people in Ohariu and Epsom can foist a pair of rotten opportunists on the rest of the country than a handful of 2nd place getters supposedly “sneaking in via the back door.”

    Comment by The Green Blazer — February 15, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

  77. @The Green Blazer

    A few thousand people in Ohariu and Epsom have as much right to vote for who they like as anyone else.

    It’s interesting that from those two electorates there are five who sneaked in “via the back door” on the list. One of them (who got 10.45% of the electorate vote) then tried a hugely opportunstic party leadership bid.

    Which MPs are not opportunists?

    Comment by Pete George — February 15, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

  78. A few thousand people in Ohariu and Epsom have as much right to vote for who they like as anyone else.

    I don’t dispute that. I don’t think there’s a lot wrong with MMP as it is.

    I merely find it odd that people can get pissed off that a small number of ineffectual seat-warmers can supposedly “sneak back into” parliament, yet don’t have a problem with the likes of Dunne and Banks holding the balance of power, even though only around 30,000 people in the whole country voted for them.

    Comment by The Green Blazer — February 15, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

  79. Hey Pete, before you label those 5 MPs opportunists who got in via “the back door” perhaps you could read the electoral Cmsn website where it explains how MMP works. The list isn’t a back door, it’s one of 2 front doors. I mean, it’s not like the lists are secret or anything. Or voters don’t know how MMP works. Or that if they vote strategically they might get more than 1 MP.

    Comment by MeToo — February 15, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  80. “yet don’t have a problem with the likes of Dunne and Banks holding the balance of power, even though only around 30,000 people in the whole country voted for them.”

    I thought many people do have a problem with that.

    Comment by MikeM — February 15, 2012 @ 11:13 pm

  81. MeToo – I was “quoting” TGB’s description (and others use it too). I don’t have a problem with electorate candidates getting in on the list.

    MikeM – yes, many people do have a problem with that. Many people have a problem with candidates and parties they don’t like getting into parliament no matter how it happens. Instead of saying ‘bugger, I wish people didn’t vote for them’ they say ‘the system must be wrong’.

    I think many complaints about the way MMP works are really complaints about voters not doing what the complainers want. Many anti-MMP complaints are actually anti-democracy complaints.

    I think diversity of parties and diversity of MPs is good and healthy. If larger parties are forced to work with small parties to advance their legislative programs that’s good, it’s healthy for democracy, even though the results aren’t always what I agree with. It forces more decisions out into the open and forces open discussions as opposed to private caucus decision making.

    I’d like to see us do away with arbitrary distorions of MMP like the threshold. If voters choose a bunch of small parties and one MP parties that’s fine. If it it means the ruling major party has to find sufficient democratic support for all of it’s legislation then good.

    Most anti-MMP gripes are hissy fit politics. Just like the continuation of anti campaigning on things like National Standards and asset sales – hissy fit politics.

    Sure it’s a part of the system to try and influence and change policies – but it should be recognised that minority groups trying to undermine policies that were campaigned on and have majority support in parliament are actually being undemocratic.

    Just like opposition parties or MPs who try to undermine the government and who try to destroy the careers of democratically elected MPs are being unpatriotic. There’s a difference between examining and testing the Government’s performance (accountability) and trying to subvert our democracy.

    Comment by Pete George — February 16, 2012 @ 6:49 am

  82. My main objection to MMP at present is the case of the ACT party two elections ago gaining extra MPs by winning the Epsom seat whereas NZ First which got more votes gained none whatsoever. This was grossly unfair insofar as party votes cast in the Epsom electorate were worth a lot more than party votes cast elsewhere.The problem of course is the 5% threshold. This problem would be largely rectified by reducing the threshold to say 3% because at this level 6 years ago NZ first would have gained MPs as well – more than ACT in fact thus overcoming a blatant injustice.

    Looking at it in another way if a party can gain 3 or 4 or more MPs under MMP it really deserves to have representation in parliament. Such numbers can clearly have an impact on parliamentary business whereas 1 or even 2 MPs are less likely to.This another reason for lowering the threshold to 3%.

    I still believe a political party should get a “reward” for winning an electoral seat by having the proportion of the total party votes taken into account as well under all circumstances which is the case now. But I think it should be less of an incentive than it is at present. If the 3% threshold was adopted, the most MPs a political party could get is 2 if it won an electoral seat but got less than 3% of the party votes. This would be a fairer “reward” when compared with other parties which get no representation in parliament at all.

    Apart from this I am happy with MMP in other respects.I do believe voters have considerable control over what political parties are currently doing with their list candidates and members. Voters can take this into account alongside policy intentions when voting in the ballot box. For example,if voters don’t like a party list they can vote against that party. Regarding the issue of candidates being both on the party list and on an electorate voting paper it would be a pity if a “good” candidate could not enter parliament by one of these processes if he/she was eliminated by the other one. Furthermore I see no reason for restricting political parties as to who they put forward to stand in general elections or by-elections.

    I have no opinion about the other issues that have been raised.

    Comment by Michael BARTLETT — February 19, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  83. “I still believe a political party should get a “reward” for winning an electoral seat by having the proportion of the total party votes taken into account as well under all circumstances which is the case now.”

    But the problem with this is that the potential “reward” goes as much to the voters of a given electorate as it does to the party concerned. So, people in Epsom, Ohariu, etc potentially are able to get twice the bang for their electorate vote as anyone else – which is against the “all votes are equal” proportionality that underlies MMP. So if you REALLY think 1-to-2.5% of the party vote is enough support to justify extra representation in Parliament just because the voters of (say) Epsom have decided to (say) endorse a deal done between National and ACT, then why persevere with any sort of threshold at all?

    The only reason for the electorate exemption was to take account of regionally strong, but nationally weak, parties (such as a “Southland First” or the like). These don’t exist in NZ (cf Germany, where we imported the system from), so the need for the exemption isn’t there.

    Comment by Grassed Up — February 19, 2012 @ 11:17 am

  84. So, people in Epsom, Ohariu, etc potentially are able to get twice the bang for their electorate vote as anyone else – which is against the “all votes are equal” proportionality that underlies MMP.

    But that’s voter enterprise which any electorate is free to do – it’s not Epsom’s fault that other electorates don’t use their vote as effectively.

    Comment by Pete George — February 19, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  85. “But that’s voter enterprise which any electorate is free to do – it’s not Epsom’s fault that other electorates don’t use their vote as effectively.”

    I read @GrassedUp’s comment as referring to a fault in the system rather than cheating by Epsom electorate voters. One of the Maori Party’s main strategies is to exploit overhang, and good on them for doing it, but I still see it as a fault in the system that lets it happen..

    Comment by MikeM — February 19, 2012 @ 11:56 am

  86. MikeM – any system will have faults if people or parties choice to exploit them. Voters have let parties use our current MMP system to their own advantage too much.

    Ideally every electorate and every party list should have the power of the voters hovering over them. It’s only the voters who can make that happen.

    Comment by Pete George — February 19, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

  87. “any system will have faults if people or parties choice to exploit them. Voters have let parties use our current MMP system to their own advantage too much.”

    I don’t agree with your way of looking at it, Pete. As is, the system creates a dilemma which means people may as well vote with every advantage they can, because if they don’t then someone else will.

    Systems have faults, but are you suggesting above that we shouldn’t try to fix one fault because it might lead to another? Or have I misunderstood?

    “Ideally every electorate and every party list should have the power of the voters hovering over them. It’s only the voters who can make that happen.”

    Yep. I just happen to think that voters in some geographic electorates shouldn’t have more overall influence than voters in other geographic electorates.

    Comment by MikeM — February 19, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

  88. @Pete G: “…any system will have faults if people or parties choice to exploit them. Voters have let parties use our current MMP system to their own advantage too much.”

    And that’s pretty much the point of eliminating the “electorate lifeboat” exception to the threshold. For all you say “it’s not Epsom’s fault that other electorates don’t use their vote as effectively”, the fact is Epsom and Ohariu only use their electorate votes the way they do because they are given very strong signals to do so by the parties involved. So it’s not that they are “choosing” to be clever, it’s that they’ve been selected by the parties (for historical reasons, as much as anything) to be used in a way that does an end-run around the otherwise too-tough party vote threshold to the benefits of the parties involved. And sure, the voters also may benefit from that behaviour … but to pretend other electorates could do so (absent similar party-dealing at a national level) is naive nonsense.

    Now we’re reviewing MMP, we should recognise this fact and ditch the electorate lifeboat whilst reducing the party vote threshold. That reduction may be to none-at-all, or some figure less than 5%. But if there is a reduced threshold, there is no place for an exception to it.

    Comment by Grassed Up — February 19, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

  89. Grassed Up – why have any exceptions at all? Therefore no threshold. I haven’t heard a good reason not to. ‘Someone else might get some influence and I mightn’t real unrestrained’ is not a good reason.

    Metirea Turei is trying to promote more Green authoritarianism today apparently:
    “We will be the ones who decide how we engage with government. From the outset, we need to make it really explicit that we are the ones that make the decisions.”

    Mandates are things other people don’t have so they can’t do anything unclean or ungreen.

    Comment by Pete George — February 19, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

  90. “Metirea Turei is trying to promote more Green authoritarianism today apparently:”

    Yes, fancy that. They should just be like good old Peter Dunne and be happy with what they’re given, eh Pete. Pat on the head, ministerial job… limo… this is what being a support party is all about

    Comment by nommopilot — February 19, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  91. Proportional representation, nommopilot. It’s a fairly simple concept that has worked quite well with government coalitions here. But Greens don’t have any practical experience.

    Greens seem to do democracy well within the party, but don’t understand or don’t care about it in the wider context. They’re tending too much towards: Green good, everyone else bad.

    An applied a variation of GW Bush- if you’re not with them, they’re against you.

    Comment by Pete George — February 19, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  92. Whereas untied future’s approach is “no one’s with us but it doesn’t matter as long as whoever gets the most votes gives Peter Dunne a cushy ministerial job”. That’s how you do democracy.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — February 19, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  93. Funny thing though Guy:
    49th parliament – Peter Dunne was included in coalition although he wasn’t required for a majority (same with Act and Maori parties)
    48th parliament – Labour chose to include United Future in a confidence and supply agreement and exclude both Maori and Green parties.

    Dunne has offered and the leading party has accepted. Isn’t that better than staying in perpetual opposition? What are MPs supposed to try and do, run the country or run the government down?

    Comment by Pete George — February 19, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

  94. “It’s a fairly simple concept that has worked quite well with government coalitions here. But Greens don’t have any practical experience.”

    Is this why United and NZ First have actively kept Green Party members out of cabinet in the past?

    Seriously, where do you propose they get the experience? Surely the quickest way to kill off a party that you believe is not up to the task is to give it some responsibility.

    Comment by MikeM — February 19, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

  95. MikeM – it’s not UF and NZF who have kept Greens out, it’s the Labour Party (when they’ve had the most seats) and the Green Party (when National have had the most seats) who have kept them out.

    Turei seems to think that either they will have more seats than Labour in 2014 and can call the shots, or they don’t believe in proportional power. Either way I think she’s overoptimistic. If the Labour vote recovers then the Green vote is likely to recede. I suspect at the moment they could be overrating the part they played in getting to 14 seats and underrating the effect of Labour’s slide.

    Comment by Pete George — February 19, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  96. The Greens actually have a set of principles and some standards. That’s why Dunne loathes them.

    Dunne’s out for Dunne. His sole aim is to preserve his ministerial salary and perks. He has no vision or platform for the country and no philosophy other than what’s best for Dunne. He’s the very embodiment of vapid venality. Even his vanity projects like the Families Commission are uninspiring, insipid and directionless. Pretty much everyone wants him gone, they just don’t care enough about him to actually make it happen. He likes this because it means he keeps his sinecure. The only reason people like you support him George, is that you had hoped to coat-tail into Parliament with him, like that collection of crazies did in 2002. You would have had better luck with Peters though, at least that guy has some character.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — February 19, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  97. Guy – it doesn’t sound like you’re very familiar with UF policies and principles. Pretty much more voters chose him in Ohariu over anyone else, so you don’t seem to undertsand or take much notice of our democratic process.

    And you shoot your credibility in the foot in promoting the character of Winston Peters – I guess he’s a bit of an old character but I wouldn’t want to be associated with him politically. There’s a lot more trust for Dunne in parliament than for Peters.

    Yep, NZF got a good dollop of support, but the votes that probably got him over the line were people who wanted him to stick it to parliament, not for anything positive. Ironic that he represents some of the worst of our politics. He’s the biggest opportunist around – and the least reliable.

    Comment by Pete George — February 19, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  98. He’s the second biggest opportunist around. Agreed that he’s certainly less predictable than Dunne, who’ll just go get a ministerial warrant from whichever team got the most votes. Man, that’s really making the country a better place (as long as you’re Peter Dunne).

    Comment by Guy Smiley — February 19, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  99. @PeteG: “why have any exceptions at all? Therefore no threshold. I haven’t heard a good reason not to. ‘Someone else might get some influence and I mightn’t real unrestrained’ is not a good reason.”

    The reasons for a threshold (such as they are) have to do with preventing fragmentation of the legislature (which can inhibit government being able to function in a responsive and effective fashion … cf Israel/Italy) and to ensure that “parties” in the legislature are more than one-person entities (which cannot operate in an effective/useful way within parliamentary processes (as opposed to snagging a position in the executive, which is not the same thing at all)). If someone finds these reasons convincing, then they provide good justification for limiting representation on grounds different to those you allege they must have.

    Point being, claiming that anyone who wants a threshold must simply want to stop “others” from having influence and thus enable “them” to rule unchecked is as dodgy as commentators on this site saying you want no threshold/a single seat exemption for no other reason than you are a member of a party that needs such a rule to exist. And if we really are all just arguing for rules that happen to help the parties we like … well, then, about 80% of folks voted National/Labour last time round, so why shouldn’t they rig MMP in a way that suits them? So – either you accept people can have legitimate, principled reasons for wanting a threshold for representation, or else accept that (as we’re all just playing partisan politics here) you are on very much the minority, losing side of any argument on the issue.

    Oh – and I don’t get how the Green’s declaration of principle is relevant to the issue of a threshold. As I see it, they are laying down a marker now for any future negotiations with the present National government (and possibly Labour after 2014), thereby reassuring their base that they can make some deals with the government without selling out. Now, whether that is clever/dumb politics in an MMP environment is open to doubt. But the track record of smaller parties just accepting that the price of government is giving free-reign to the bigger party is not exactly promising. After all, being overly accommodating may have helped Peter Dunne prolong his ministerial career, but I think you’d be hard pressed to claim that it has been a successful tactic for United Future as a political movement with a multi-generational future (which is what the Greens see themselves as being).

    Plus, the Greens can say “do it our way, or no deal.” For that to mean anything, however, the other partner(s) have to say “OK”. So, let’s not get too excited by what gets said at a party’s conference, shall we?

    Comment by Grassed Up — February 19, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  100. Is anyone else getting email notifications of comments (e.g. Pascal’s Bookie 1:06pm 20 Feb) but not finding them once they get here? Danyl, are you getting strange clicks on your telephone line?

    Or have your legions of followers crashed wordpress again?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 21, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

  101. @Clunking Fist, the comments are here if you mean #63 and #64. They’re just a long way up the thread, as if they were stuck in a moderation queue for 5 days and were let through yesterday with the original posting dates. Or maybe the email notifications were held up, but the headers on the emails I received suggest they were’d sent until shortly before they arrived.

    Comment by MikeM — February 21, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  102. For some reason some comments are going into the spam filter. (Having loads of links in your post is a good way to get classified as spam). And I only clean that out intermittently.

    Comment by danylmc — February 21, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  103. Fame sucks.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 21, 2012 @ 6:11 pm


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