Home > The Body Politic > Some thoughts on MMP…

Some thoughts on MMP…

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Wellington Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, helps to put up one of the first MMP billboards for the Keep MMP Campaign.

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With the referendum over, and the New Right assault on MMP defeated, it’s time to have a look at proposals  for changes to MMP…

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Waka-jumping Law

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It’s been suggested that we need a new “waka jumping” Law to prevent MPs from leaving their political party, once elected into Parliament.

This was a considerable problem in the 1996-99 Parliament, where MPs were deserting their home-Parties at a dizzying speed; Alemain Kopu from The Alliance; and eight MPs from NZ First.

However, since then, it has not been a problem and we’ve not seen such defections for over a decade. Two notable exceptions,

Turia, a junior minister, once informed that voting against the government would appear “incompatible” with holding ministerial rank, announced on April 30, 2004 her intention to resign from the Labour Party. Her resignation took effect on May 17, and she left parliament until she won a by-election in her Te Tai Hauauru seat two months later.” – Wikipedia

Hone Harawira’s  resignation from the Maori Party caused the Te Tai Tokerau by-election, held on 25 June 2011, which he won with a majority of 1117.”

My view is that a Waka Jumping Law is not required as  both Turia and Harawira resigned from Parliament, forcing by-elections which they both won.

Furthermore, there may come a time when an MP leaves his/her Party because a policy change is so radical and inimical to their Party’s original manifesto, that they cannot in good conscience continue to be a member.  Jim Anderton’s resignation from the Rogernomics-dominated Labour Government of the 1980s is a clear example.

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5% threshold

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There has been suggestion that the 5% threshold for Parties to gain seats in Parliament is too high.

In some countries that use various system of proportional representation, the thresholds are set low or are non-existant.  In Israel, the threshold is 2% (previously 1%). In Italy, the threshold is 4%.

If we lower the threshold, expect one or two additional smaller parties to win seats in Parliament. For example  (if my math is correct),

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Actual and Potential Seats Allocation in Parliament under Actual 5% Threshold and Possible 4% Threshold:

2008 General Election – Actual Results – 5% Threshold

Seats

2008 General Election – Theoretical Results – 4% Threshold

Seats

National

58

55

Labour

43

42

Green Party

9

9

ACT

5

5

Maori Party

5

5

Jim Anderton

1

1

Peter Dunne

1

1

NZ First

0

5

Total Seats in Parliament

122

123

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Under a 4% threshold, the addition of five seats for NZ First changes the seat allocations for National and Labour, and alters the dynamics of possible Coalition arrangements,

National + ACT + Dunne = 61

Labour + Greens + NZF = 57

The five Maori Party’s  seats becomes critical and effectively a “king maker” in this scenario,

National + ACT + Dunne + 5 MP = 66

Labour + Greens + NZF = 57

or

Labour + Greens + NZF + 5 MP = 62

National + ACT + Dunne = 61

Personally, I’m neutral when it comes to a 5% or 4% threshold, as both allow for representation for reasonable number of voters.

However, I would not favour a lower threshold, as that becomes overly complicated with numerous smaller parties gaining seats.

Voters are concerned enough with the mythical “tail-wagging-the-dog” bogeyman, without adding just cause to their misinformed belief. I would want to see MMP embedded more solidly in our collective consciousness before going below a 4% threshold.

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Electorate Seat Threshold/Dispensation

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As well as the 5%  Party threshold, there is a secondary “threshold” – the Electorate Seat Win.

As the law currently stands, a Party must win 5% of the Party Vote to gain seats in the House. But, if a small Party wins an Electorate Seat, the 5% threshold is dispensed with. Extra MPs, from the small party’s Party List can enter Parliament, on the “coat tails” of the Electorate MP’s success.

(Hence why National supported John Banks’ efforts to win Epsom. )

This curious situation can result in the contradictory result where, in 2008, NZ First won 4.07% of the Party Votes – but gained no seats in Parliament because they did not cross the 5% threshold. At the same time, ACT won 3.65% of the Party Vote (less than NZ First) – but gained five seats in Parliament; one electorate and four Party List seats.

Because ACT’s Rodney Hide  had won an Electorate Seat, they gained a dispensation for the 5% threshold, and Hide brought four extra MPS into Parliament as a result.  (3.65% Party votes = 5 seats in Parliament)

It seems  manifestly unfair that ACT’s 85,496 Party Votes translated into 5 seats in Parliament – but NZ First’s 95,356 Party Votes got them no seats at all (because they didn’t cross the 5% threshold or win an Elecorate Seat).

It is my belief that the Electorate Seat Threshold/Dispensation be done away with. There seems no practical rationale for it’s existance and merely serves to throw up contradictory inconsistancies such the the example above.

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Electorate Candidates vs Party List Candidates

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This may well be the major debating issue for any reform of MMP; whether or not candidates should be able to stand for both an Electorate Seat and on the Party List as well.

Currently, a candidate for Party X can stand as an Electorate Candidate as well as have their name on his/her party’s Party List. Or, the same same may stand only as an Electorate Candidate – but not appear on the Party List. Or vice versa.

Some people have suggested that having a candidate stand in both an Electorate and on the Party List is somehow “undemocratic”. The most common disparagement is that “losing candidates sneak back in on the Party List“.

I disagree.

Not only is that criticism indicative of a lack of understanding of how MMP works – I suggest it is, in itself, a “sneaky” harking back to the days of FPP (First Past the Post), where the “winner takes all”.

Judging by electorate-by-electorate results, those who oppose MMP tend to be National Party supporters,

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Electorates that voted to Change from MMP

Electorate Vote to Keep MMP Vote to Change from MMP Preferred Alternative Winning Candidate
Bay Of Plenty

49.50%

50.50%

FPP – 48.4%

Tony Ryall (Nat)
Clutha-Southland

44.60%

55.40%

FPP – 58.1%

Bill English (Nat)
Helensville

46.60%

53.40%

FPP – 44.4%

John Key (Nat)
Hunua

46.40%

53.60%

FPP – 49.4%

Paul Hutchinson (Nat)
Kaikoura

49.60%

50.40%

FPP – 52.5%

Colin King (Nat)
North Shore

49.40%

50.60%

FPP – 37.9%

Maggie Barry (Nat)
Rangitata

48.30%

51.70%

FPP – 57.9%

Jo Goodhew (Nat)
Rodney

46.40%

53.60%

FPP – 44.9%

Mark Mitchell (Nat)
Selwyn

49.40%

50.60%

FPP – 50.8

Amy Adams (Nat)
Tamaki

47.30%

52.70%

FPP – 38.1

Simon O’Connor (Nat)
Taranaki-King Country

46.70%

53.30%

FPP – 53.3%

Shane Ardern (Nat)
Tukituki

49.80%

50.20%

FPP – 49.3%

Craig Foss (Nat)
Waikato

47.60%

52.40%

FPP – 52.1%

Lindsay Tisch (Nat)
Waitaki

47.60%

52.40%

FPP – 55.3%

Jacqui Dean (Nat

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Electorates that voted to Keep MMP – By Narrow 1%-4% Margin

Electorate Vote to Keep MMP Vote to Change from MMP Preferred Alternative Winning Candidate
Coromandel

50.30%

49.70%

FPP – 52.3% Scott Simpson (Nat)
East Coast Bays

51.30%

48.70%

FPP – 42.2% Murray McCully (Nat)
Epsom

50.10%

49.90%

SM – 35.9% John Banks (ACT)
Invercargill

50.80%

49.20%

FPP – 58.1% Eric Roy (Nat)
Napier

51.40%

48.60%

FPP – 49.3% Chris Tremain (Nat)
Northland

52.00%

48.00%

FPP – 50.8% Mike Sabin (Nat)
Pakuranga

51.10%

48.90%

FPP – 42.9% Maurice Williamson (Nat)
Rangitikei

50.70%

49.30%

FPP – 51.1% Ian McKelvie (Nat)
Taupo

50.50%

49.50%

FPP – 52.0% Louise Upston(Nat)
Tauranga

51.50%

48.50%

FPP – 45.9% Simon Bridges (Nat)
Waimakariri

51.10%

48.90%

FPP – 53.3% Kate Wilkinson (Nat)
Wairarapa

50.50%

49.50%

FPP – 51.9% John Hayes (Nat)

Sources for Data

Electorate Status

Referendum Data

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Not one single electorate that returned a Labour candidate voted to change from MMP.

Which is ironic, considering that the candidates who “sneak back in on the Party List” often tend to be National candidates – and often quite high ranking ministerial ones, at that.

Two cases-in-point; Paula Bennet (Nat) and Hekia Parata (Nat),

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Waitakere: Electorate & Party Vote Results

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Candidate Electorate Votes Party Votes Result
Carmel Sepuloni (Lab)

13,468

11,577

Electorate win to Lab
Paula Bennett (Nat

13,457

12,534

Party Vote win to Nat
Difference

Sepuloni +11

Bennett +957

Source for data

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Mana: Electorate & Party Vote Results

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Candidate Electorate Votes Party Votes Result
Kris Faafoi (Lab)

16,323

12,999

Electorate win to Lab
Hekia Parata (Nat)

14,093

13,754

Party Vote win to Nat
Difference

Faafoi +2,230

Parata +755

Source for data

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In both cases, each candidate did well, winning in separate categories of either Electorate Votes or Party Votes.

If  candidates were prevented  from standing in both Electorate and on Party Lists, then had Parata and Bennett stood only in their respective Electorates, both would be out of Parliament.

There appears to be no rational reason to ban candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms – except that it appears to be a reactionary resentment from some partisan voters against unsuccessful Electorate candidates from making it into Parliament – even though those same candidates appear to win more Party Votes than their opponants.

Claiming that Bennett and Parata have  “sneaked back in on the Party List” ignores the fact that both women won more Party Votes than their opponants. In effect, Bennett and Parata  earned their right to be returned to Parliament.

We should also consider that banning candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms could have unintended consequences;

  • Creating an unnecessary division between List and Electorate candidates that would serve no useful purpose, except to satisfy heavily partisan voters.
  • A return to the concept of “safe seats”, where prominent/popular candidates would stand in such “safe seats”, and less popular/prominent candidates would be nominated for more marginal seats, making  strategic placings of candidates  more likely.
  • More highly valued candidates would be List only candidates, as Parties would not want to risk losing certain talents on risky Electorate contests.
  • A marginalisation of List candidates at Electorate candidates-meetings. One might envisage community meetings where Electorate candidates are invited to address the public – but List Candidates are not, as they are not seen to “represent” any particular geographic area.

It appears to me that banning candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms actually creates unnecessary separation and  reduces our choice of candidates.

People who promote banning candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms may actually be shooting themselves in the foot. They may find that far from making MMP fairer, such an arbitrary separation of Electorate and List candidacies may have unintended consequences that they may regret.

Judging by comments on various internet Forums, it appears that most proponants of banning candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms are partisan National voters. They should take a moment to consider that at least two  high ranking Ministers (as well as others such as Chris Finlayson and Kate Wilkinson, in 2008) would no longer be in Parliament if  List and Electorate candidacies were separated.

As usual, the  Law of Unintended Consequences applies.

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Related stories

Public’s views on MMP must be heard

How to fix MMP

Electoral Commission: Results by Electorate for the 2011 Referendum on the Voting System

Electoral Commission: Official Count Results – Electorate Status


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  1. Bren
    13 December 2011 at 3:20 pm

    In a parallel universe where we had a 4% threshold in 2008 the Greens would have lost a seat as well to accommodate New Zealand First.

    • 13 December 2011 at 5:05 pm

      I was hoping my math was up to the task, Bren… 😉

  2. The Mad Hutter
    13 December 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Interesting article.

    I agree that waka-jumping hasn’t been an issue for some time. I think we can put that down to teething issues and reconfiguration in response to the then-new MMP environment.

    I disagree that a lower threshold would be a bad thing. As you correctly observe, a lower threshold would likely mean more smaller parties in Parliament. Previous voting patterns aren’t a reliable barometer of how many there would be, since a lower threshold would mean less fear of wasted votes. The reason I don’t think it would be a problem is that more smaller parties means more coalition options for the most successful parties. Sure, they might need two or three parties to get to a majority, but they’re likely to have more than one configuration that could get them there.

    Take the new National-led government for example: National need either Act and UF, or Act and Mana, or UF and Mana, or Maori, or NZFirst, or Green (or Labour for that matter), to have a majority. Or they could negotiate for NZFirst or Green to abstain, giving them a majority of votes cast. Or they could have Maori abstain and either Act or UF vote with them or abstain. They have options… with the threshold at 5%. If it was at 2.5% (exactly 3 full seats’ worth of votes) the Conservatives would have made it too, giving National a bigger seat deficit but even more effective combinations.

    In situations like this the tails can’t wag the dog more than it wants to be wagged, because the dog has a choice of tails. What did National give up that it didn’t want to give? Anything? If Peter Dunne had played hardball, how far do you think he would have got? “No thanks, Pete, we can get the Maori Party to abstain for less.”

    I agree that the one seat alternative threshold is an undesirable anomaly. It’s a no brainer really, especially if the threshold is lowered so that it’s within realistic reach of start-up parties like the Conservatives. The likes of Dunne and Brash shouldn’t get “party leader” status either – they’re effectively independents and should be treated as such.

    I also agree with your conclusion about List and Constituency candidates, but not all of your arguments. Your argument about party votes in “sneaky” MPs’ electorates is flawed. You can’t attribute the strong National votes in those electorates to Bennett and Parata. In fact what is shown is that National had strong support, but the candidates were unable to hold up that natural National support for themselves. They were less popular than the party.

    But that’s no reason to deny them a list seat. Their party still commanded enough votes to elect them through the list *on the basis* (we must assume, according to the definition of the voting system) of the lists which included those candidates in high positions. They may not be popular in their local electorates, but we can’t rule out the possibility that more than their seat’s worth of voters in other areas voted for National *because they were high on the list*.

    The antis need to be reminded that you can’t vote *against* people in any reasonable electoral system. You vote *for* the candidates and parties you want and so does everyone else. Sometimes people you don’t like get elected by other people’s votes. Get over it.

    The best argument against changing the status quo is the one you give about candidate selection: if candidates can’t stand for both a constituency and the list, marginal electorates will only get expendable candidates and the best of the best will only appear on the list (and perhaps the very safest flagship seats).

    There’s also likely to be a sudden break in the quality of people on the consituency-winning parties’ lists in the region of the last list place the party expects to win. At that point the quality candidates will flee the insecurity of a low list placing for the relative safety of a “safe” seat. Candidates on the cusp would have a difficult choice to make: fight a possibly losing fight in an electorate, or take a possibly losing place on the list? It might be tactically preferable to deliberately “throw” constituency battles, in order to give more certainty to the cusp list candidates. If you think the deals are murky now…

    A few more things to consider:

    * Preferential voting for the constituency vote.
    * Preferential voting for the party vote (votes for parties that don’t make the threshold are transferred)
    * Multi-member constituencies
    * The South Island quota (which leads to a declining number of list seats, which leads to an increased chance of an overhang)
    * Overhang generally

    All of the above would still involve list proportionality overlaid on constituency contests, so they’re still forms of MMP (and therefore within the scope of the review).

  3. Bren
    13 December 2011 at 9:30 pm

    It was surprising how much that extra seat in 4% world bothered me (the 122 vs 123 seats). I had to check it out and being a total nerd I ran the st lague formula on the 2008 results with NZF thrown in.

    Anyway, I had meant to be comment more on your post than that – just ran out of time.

    It is very interesting how the retain/ditch MMP vote correlates with the left-right vote. I wonder why that is? Is it merely just people voting for the electoral system they think will benefit their side (historically across western nations, the left tend to splinter into small parties which disadvantages them in an FPP system but the same thing could happen to the right if they did the same thing) or is there some kind of match-up between the values of the left and MMP and the values of the right and FPP?

    I disagree though on the electorate threshold issue. To me, the whole reason that this issue exists is because of the 5% threshold. If it was lower then winning an electorate for the sole purpose of staying in parliament would be nullified. The 5% threshold is what distorts the system not the electorate seat threshold. In my mind, I feel happier knowing that those 85,496 ACT votes were included in determining seat allocations in 2008 than if they were not.

    • 14 December 2011 at 12:03 am

      Bren…

      “It is very interesting how the retain/ditch MMP vote correlates with the left-right vote. I wonder why that is? Is it merely just people voting for the electoral system they think will benefit their side (historically across western nations, the left tend to splinter into small parties which disadvantages them in an FPP system but the same thing could happen to the right if they did the same thing) or is there some kind of match-up between the values of the left and MMP and the values of the right and FPP? “

      I wonder if it’s in the very core-nature of right-leaning voters. Their values might be such that they prioritise strong government (ie; one party government) over democratic government (a coalition of competing ideas).

      Hence why Muldoon was so beloved of voters – he was a “strong” leader. Mind you, voters who love strong leaders can be fickle, and after a few terms, voters tend to change their “flavour of the month”.

      So right-leaning voters may prefer a government that will Just Do It. No mucking about with debate. Problem identified; problem sorted; next!

      I might be overly-simplifying matters… it’s difficult to get into the mind-set of right-leaning voters.

      Perhaps if a partisan National voter reads this, they can share their world-view with us as to why a single-party system like FPP is preferable over systems like MMP and STV that encourage multiple-party coalitions…?

  4. The Mad Hutter
    13 December 2011 at 11:02 pm

    If you lower the threshold to nil, then the one seat threshold becomes moot anyway. The problem with that is that the silly protest vote can exceed the natural effective threshold. In 2008 for example, Bill & Ben and the Kiwi Party (with 0.56% and 0.54% respectively) would both have got seats.

    The Kiwi Party got just 12755 votes and B&B 13,016. In most electorates those tallies wouldn’t have been enough to win the seat. In many electorates the winning *margin* was more than that.

    I’ll leave the question of identifying the silly protest party/ies as an exercise for the reader.

  5. 13 December 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Mad Hatter… am liking many of your points.

    “A few more things to consider:

    * Preferential voting for the constituency vote.”

    Indeed, I’ve considered the very same possibility; PV on the Electorate Vote would make the system even more democratic. It might even eliminate/reduce some of the rorting that goes on at present.

    Personally I’d love to be able to rank my Electorate candidates.

    The potential problem though might be; would the general public get it? There would have to be a massive advertising campaign to educate voters. (I’ve met folk who still don’t understand MMP or even that they get two votes.)

    “I agree that waka-jumping hasn’t been an issue for some time. I think we can put that down to teething issues and reconfiguration in response to the then-new MMP environment.”

    I concur.

    Similar waka-jumping happened around the time of the first MMP election in 1996; several National MPs split away, forming their own one-man-band Parties. “Right-Of-Centre” (RoC) was one. “Christian Democrats” another.

    At least now, if (electorate) MPs “waka jump”, they tend to do the honourable thing and trigger by-elections. Defecting List MPs don’t have that same option, unfortunately.

    “The antis need to be reminded that you can’t vote *against* people in any reasonable electoral system. You vote *for* the candidates and parties you want and so does everyone else. Sometimes people you don’t like get elected by other people’s votes. Get over it.”

    Indeed. A point I shall be including in my submission to the Electoral Commission when I ‘fine tune’ this draft submission.

    I’m still wary of dropping the threshold below 4%. I remember Italy’s constant elections with their plethora of tiny one or two-person Parties. Their instability was referred to as the “Italian Disease”, if I recall correctly. (Though these days that might be something that Berlusconi might’ve picked up…) Israel had similar problems with their unfeasibly low threshold?

    Anyways… all good to consider.

  6. Tom Sawyer
    14 December 2011 at 12:29 am

    I was going to vote for SM, until I read here what it really was. So voted for STV in the end.

  7. George Burrell
    14 December 2011 at 8:30 am

    Preferential on the Electorate vote is fine by me too.

    What about providing preferential options on the Party vote? That is far more important than preferential on Electorate isn’t it? i.e. In this election, would it have been good to reallocate Conservative Party votes, and votes for parties that scored lower than that, to other parties? With modern computer technology, we can do so much more.

    This would make voters confident about voting for smaller parties that might fall short of threshold. I am still intrigued to know how many voting for Maori Party candidates might also vote for the Maori Party in party vote if they knew that their vote would never be wasted.

    Your submission would be even better if you opened with a statement about the values of MMP that you seek to promote:
    * Full proportionality as far as it can be achieved
    * Motivation for voters to vote for what they really want
    * Effective Parliament

    and whatever else.

    Thank you for providing your draft submission, it is never too early to start.

    • 14 December 2011 at 11:51 am

      Thanks for that, George. Yes indeed, I’ll be re-working the opening statement to include points you raised,

      * Full proportionality as far as it can be achieved
      * Motivation for voters to vote for what they really want
      * Effective Parliament

      I’m still not convinced that making the Party Vote preferential is something that most voters will be able to get their head around. I’m of the thought that requires a constituency that is much more sophisticated in their understanding of the workings of electoral systems.

      Even making the Electoral Vote preferential (which I think should be considered) may be asking too much from a large chunk of voters?

  8. George Burrell
    14 December 2011 at 12:12 pm

    It must be remembered that its the party vote that really counts! If the vast majority of Conservative voters had made National as second choice, the balance of the house would be changed in this election.

    My thought is that if you are going to have preference method for Candidate, you could have preference method for party as well. i.e. If you go in for preference, make the voting procedure same for both votes.

    Another variation I thought of would be to have one vote, with preferential calculations by party and candidate.

    In Epsom you might vote this way:

    1. John Banks AND ACT
    2, Paul Goldsmith AND National
    3. David Parker AND Labour

    The independents may cause a worry, because they have no party! Also if a party does not put up a candidate in a particular electorate, that makes party look less attractive I guess. This system needs more analysis, but I was wondering if trading in split voting for a voter-friendly proportional system might be attractive!

    There would be less chance of overhang. Less temptation to do the strategic vote-splitting.

  9. The Mad Hutter
    14 December 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Split voting statistics from previous elections suggest that New Zealand voters in general actually have quite a sophisticated understanding of MMP although they may not be able to articulate it. The parties that have realistic chances of winning seats hold considerably more of their vote than those that don’t. Even the informal vote counts suggest that people understand that every party vote is important whereas the constituency vote is less important and may be a foregone conclusion.

    Given that level of sophistication, ranking shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. I suspect that when people say they don’t understand MMP, they mostly mean that they don’t understand how Sainte Lague works. They know how to make their votes count.

    As for Israel and Italy, political culture plays a big part in their problems. Odds are they would be unstable regardless of electoral system. The problem is not that they have lots of parties, but that the parties are fickle. With fewer parties, they would probably still have problems with fickle MPs crossing the floor and jumping ship.

    New Zealand has a far better record of handling small parties in coalition. The waka-jumping affair made it clear that neither the electorate nor the major parties will stand for rampant fickleness. The Clark and Key governments have shown the right way to manage small parties in coalition. It’s unlikely that a couple of extra parties in parliament would break that paradigm.

    • George
      14 December 2011 at 10:44 pm

      Mad Hutter says: ” The parties that have realistic chances of winning seats hold considerably more of their vote than those that don’t. ”

      This may explain why NZ First did very well this time. Once Jordan Williams (Vote for Change) and John Key provided Winston Peters with his chance, the NZ First vote trended upward in the poll. The word went around that he would clear 5% and the supporters with doubts joined in and helped him exceed 7%.

      What would happen if every Maori voter who really wanted the Maori Party voted for them? Currently many vote for a government MP and an opposition party!

      • 14 December 2011 at 11:22 pm

        “Once Jordan Williams (Vote for Change) and John Key provided Winston Peters with his chance, the NZ First vote trended upward in the poll. The word went around that he would clear 5% and the supporters with doubts joined in and helped him exceed 7%.”

        Indeed, George. Williams’ use of Winston Peters as a scare tactic backfired badly. Whilst some may have been ‘spooked’ at the prospect of Peters’ political resurrection, and voted for Change – others probably took offence at what they (rightly) perceived as naked scare-mongering.

        I think if a political campaign has to exploit and demonise a particular politician to gain support – it suggests that that campaign has very little else going for it.

        And I must admit that listening to Williams on Radio NZ’s Jim Mora’s afternoon panel, he didn’t particularly come across as someone very credible. All I could keep thinking was, “what’s his angle?”.

    • 14 December 2011 at 11:15 pm

      “New Zealand has a far better record of handling small parties in coalition. The waka-jumping affair made it clear that neither the electorate nor the major parties will stand for rampant fickleness.”

      I tend to concur, Hutter. Very few waka-jumpers have survived the experience – Jim Anderton is one of the few. (Peters sought a by-election after leaving National. I can’t recall what Dunne did after leaving Labour.)

      Except for Tau Henare, who joined up with the Nats, one of NZ First’s waka-jumpers returned to Parliament. As did Ms Kopu (whose fledgling Party forgot to file a party-registration with the Electoral Commission in time). And two waka-jumpers from National who formed the Liberal Party; and then became one of the five constituent parties of the Alliance; failed to return.

      In many respects, Clark and Key have indeed demonstrated how smoothly coalition-building can be. From the two months that it took National and NZ First to thrash out a deal in December 1996 – to arrangements that are negotiated, signed, sealed, and delivered with one or maybe two weeks. The term “seamless” springs to mind.

      “Split voting statistics from previous elections suggest that New Zealand voters in general actually have quite a sophisticated understanding of MMP although they may not be able to articulate it. “

      That’s an interesting point. It occurs to me – based on observation – that voters’ understanding of MMP seems to move along a spectrum. This ranges from cunning use of Party and Electorate votes – to only a vague perception that they have two votes, not just one.

      Interestingly, the highest support for retaining MMP came from the Maori Electorates. Without meaning to sound patronising, perhaps they understand MMP, and it’s strategic use of two votes, evwen better than those general electorates that voted for change?

      “As for Israel and Italy, political culture plays a big part in their problems.”

      I think they also increased their threshold from none (if memory serves) to 2-4%?

  10. George
    15 December 2011 at 5:49 am

    Frank you are right to say:

    ” Interestingly, the highest support for retaining MMP came from the Maori Electorates. Without meaning to sound patronising, perhaps they understand MMP, and it’s strategic use of two votes, even better than those general electorates that voted for change? ”

    However that may not be an indicator of the success of MMP!

    The usual background here is low voter turnout, but for those that do vote, it may be that the Maori Party candidates have a strategy of campaigning for the personal vote only. It does seem strange that so many vote strategically. Do the voters want a National-led government or a Labour-led government? What if every voter was giving candidate vote to the right and party vote to the left?

    It is the Maori electorates that have created the overhang in Parliament and that is not a desirable situation longer term. It is a good trend to see just one overhang seat this time.

    But what is the mandate for the 3 Maori MPs when their party vote lags their personal popularity by the equivalent of one seat? Would a lower threshold persuade the supporters to vote for candidate plus party, and give a more rational outcome and mandate?

  1. 15 December 2011 at 1:45 pm
  2. 15 August 2012 at 12:47 am
  3. 15 August 2012 at 3:07 pm
  4. 5 November 2012 at 11:01 pm

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