- 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.