Archive

Posts Tagged ‘MMP review’

Election ’17 Countdown: The Strategy of Ohariu

22 February 2017 2 comments

.

(Or, “It’s only ‘hypocrisy’ when the Left do it!“)

.

kalenderblatt_23_september_2011

 

.

The Labour-Green New Deal

On 14 February, the Left finally woke up to the realities of MMP. A deal was brokered and the only possible, logical  outcome arrived at;

.

rnz-green-party-will-not-stand-in-ohariu-election-2017

.

The Radio NZ story is correct; Dunne retained the Ōhāriu electorate by only 710 votes.

.

ohariu-2014-election-result

.

Had Green voters given their electorate vote to the Labour candidate, Virginia  Andersen would have won Ōhāriu by 2,054 votes and National would  have lost one of their coalition partners.

With the subsequent loss of Northland to Winston Peters in March 2015, National would have lost their majority in Parliament and would have had to either rely on NZ First for Confidence and Supply – or call an early election.

A major victory for the Left (and all low-income people in our community) would have been the abandonment of National’s state house sell-of. (Current state housing stock has dropped from 69,000 rental properties in 2008 to 61,600 (plus a further 2,700 leased) by  2016.)

National has sold off  7,400 properties. Meanwhile, as of December last year, there were 4,771 people on the state house waiting list;

.

msd-housing-nz-waiting-list

.

Had Dunne been ousted from Ōhāriu in 2014 our recent history would have been completely altered.  Anyone who believes that the Labour-Green accomodation was a “dirty” deal might ponder the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ whilst spending the night in a car or under a tarpaulin. Preferably in winter.

Green Party co-leader, James Shaw, rightly pointed out the obvious;

“I think New Zealanders will understand that, in an MMP environment, it makes perfect sense for us to not stand a candidate in Ōhāriu. Ōhāriu has a significant impact on the makeup of Parliament.

Not standing in Ōhāriu increases the chances that we will be in a position to change the government in September – it’s as simple as that.

I would actually argue that we’re being more transparent here by actually simply saying we’re not going to and it’s within the structure of the memorandum of understanding with the Labour Party that we signed last year, where we actually held a press conference saying that we were going to work together to change the government.”

Shaw has rejected any suggestion that this is a “dirty deal”. Again, he is correct. the Greens and Labour are simply working by the rules of MMP as National determined in 2012/13, when then-Dear Leader Key refused to eliminate the “coat-tailing” provision.

Shaw should have thrown the description of a “deal” right back at critics such as right-wing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, and TV3’s faux-moralistic Patrick Gower. Shaw’s response should have been hard-hitting and ‘in-your-face’,

“Damn right it’s a deal. Those are the rules set by  National and we  play by them. If people don’t like it, take it up with the Tories.”

Some context

In 2012, National followed through on an earlier government committment to conduct a review into the MMP electoral process. The Commission called for submissions from the public, and over 4,600 submissions were duly made on the issue. (This blogger made a submission as well.)

As a result, the Commission made these findings;

The Commission presented its final report to the Minister of Justice on 29 October 2012 with the following recommendations:

  • The one electorate seat threshold  [aka “coat-tailing”] should be abolished (and if it is, the provision for overhang seats should also be abolished);

  • The party vote threshold should be lowered from 5% to 4% (with the Commission required by law to review how the 4% threshold is working);

  • Consideration be given to fixing the ratio of electorate seats to list seats at 60:40 to address concerns about declining proportionality and diversity of representation;

  • Political parties should continue to  have responsibility for selecting and ranking candidates on their party lists but they must make a statutory declaration that they have done so in accordance with their party rules;

  • MPs should continue to be allowed to be dual candidates and list MPs to stand in by-elections.

 

The first two recommendations were a direct threat to National’s dominance in Parliament, and then-Minister of Justice, Judith Collins rejected them outright;

.

govt-rejects-recommendations-to-change-mmp-system-nz-herald-mmp-review

.

Key offered a mealy-mouthed excuse for not accepting the Electoral Commission’s report;

“If you’re really, really going to have major change to MMP you’d want to have either consensus or to put it to the people.  It’s not a matter of blame – it’s just a range of views out there.”

Yet, submitters had been fairly clear in their views and failure to obtain “concensus” from the smaller parties in Parliament said more about their own self-interests than public-interest.

A NZ Herald editorial pointed out;

All of National’s present allies, Act, United Future and the Maori Party, take the same view of the single electorate entitlement and all but the Maori Party have benefited from it at some time. Self-interest may be their underlying motive…

[…]

National seems not to want to disturb the status quo because it discounts its chances of finding stable coalition partners under the simplified system proposed.

So the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars spent on the MMP Review; seeking submissions; listening to submitters; and providing the Report to Parliament was all an utter waste of money.

The “coat-tailing” provision would be set to remain because without it National would find it harder to find potential coalition allies, and therefore govern.

It also meant that all political parties now have to play by the same rules, or else be disadvantaged.

(Hypo)Crit(ic)s

— Gower

Patrick Gower (with Jenna Lynch sharing the byline) writing for  TV3 News was obviously having a bad coffee-day with this vitriolic comment, condemning the Labour-Green accomodation;

Labour and the Greens have just done the dirtiest electorate deal in New Zealand political history – and it is all about destroying Peter Dunne.

The tree-hugging Greens will not stand in Ōhāriu to help the gun-toting former cop Greg O’Connor win the seat for Labour.

This is dirtier than most electorate deals because for the first time in recent history a party is totally giving up on a seat and not running rather than standing but giving a ‘cup of tea’ signal for its voters to go for a minor party candidate.

The degree of hypocrisy to Gower’s comment is breath-taking.

Note that he suggests that it is preferable to “giving a ‘cup of tea’ signal for its voters to go for a minor party candidate” rather than withdrawing a candidate and openly declaring an accomodation.

In effect, a journalist has advocated for “open deception” rather than transparency. Think about that for a moment.

Gower antipathy to left-wing parties using current MMP rules is not new. Three years ago, Gower  made a scathing attack on Hone Harawira and Laila Harré over the alliance between the Internet Party and Mana Movement;

.

patrick-gower-twitter-laila-harre-mana-internet-party-alliance

.

By attacking parties on the Left who choose to work together (but not parties on the Right), Gower is either displaying crass ignorance over how MMP works – or undisguised political bias.

I will not be surprised if Gower eventually ends up as Press Secretary for a National minister.

Postscript: Re Gower’s comment that “for the first time in recent history a party is totally giving up on a seat and not running“.

This is yet more ignorance from a man who is supposedly TV3’s “political editor”. Political parties often do not yield a full slate of candidates in every electorate.

In the 2014 General election there were 71 electorates; 64 general and seven Māori electorates;

.

party-and-candidate-lists-for-2014-election

.

The Green party had only 57 candidates out of 71 electorates. Notice that even National did not offer candidates in every electorate.

Only Labour fielded a candidate in all 71 electorates.

So as usual, Gower’s political knowledge is disturbingly lacking. Or partisan. Take your pick.

— Farrar

Soon after the Greens announced their accomodation deal, National Party apparatchik, pollster, and right-wing blogger – David Farrar – was predictable in his criticism. Cheering for Patrick Gower, Farrar  wrote;

…Labour and Greens have spent years condemning deals where National stands but tells supporters they only want the party vote, and now they’ve done a deal where they don’t even stand. I don’t have a huge issue with them doing that – the issue is their blatant hypocrisy.

They’re so desperate to be in Government they’ll put up with that, but the irony is that if Winston does hold the balance of power and pick Labour, he’ll insist the Greens are shut out of Government.

Yet, in 2011 and 2014, Farrar had different thoughts on deal-making when it came to electoral accomodations;

This is sensible and not unusual. Off memory most elections there have been some seats where ACT doesn’t stand a candidate to avoid splitting the centre-right electorate vote. One of the nice things about MMP is that you can still contest the party vote, without needing to stand in an electorate.

And,

I think Epsom voters will vote tactically, as they did previously. But the choice is up to them. National may say we are only seeking the party vote in an electorate – but they still stand a candidate, giving voters the choice. Epsom voters are not controlled by National. If they don’t want to tactically vote, then they won’t. All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government.

So, according to Farrar, it’s ok  that “ ACT doesn’t stand a candidate to avoid splitting the centre-right electorate vote“. He describes it as “one of the nice things about MMP“.

So as long as a deal is presented dishonestly – “All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government” –  then that’s ok?

Both Labour/Greens and National/ACT have presented electoral accomodations – but in different ways.

One was transparent.

The other was doing it with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”.

It is unreasonable and hypocritical to support one side to exploit current MMP provisions to their benefit – whilst expecting others to work to a different set of rules. Perhaps Mr Farrar should look at how National/ACT presents their accomodations to the public – or else do away with the coat-tailing provision altogether.

Ōhāriu Green Voters

Following the 2011 General Election, I noted that Green voters had failed to make full use of strategic voting under MMP;

Dunne’s election gave National an extra coalition partner  and his win  therefore assumes a greater relevance than a “mere” electorate MP.  In effect, 1,775 Green voters sent John Key a second Coalition partner, after John Banks.

And again, post-2014;

Some Green supporters are either woefully ignorant of MMP – or have been smoking to much of a certain herb. Or, gods forbid, they are so desperate to remain ideologically pure in their principles, that they are willing to allow a right wing candidate to be elected, rather than supporting a candidate from another party on the Left.

In  Ōhāriu (as well as other electorates) Peter Dunne was returned to office because Green Party supporters cast their electorate votes for Green candidate Tane Woodley, instead of the Labour candidate. Preliminary election results for Ohariu yield the following;

ANDERSEN, Virginia: (Labour)11,349*

DUNNE, Peter: (United Future) 12,279*

WOODLEY, Tane: (Greens) 2,266*

Had supporters of the Green Party given their electorate votes to Viriginia Andersen, Peter Dunne would have been defeated by 1,336* votes.

The Greens need to get it through to their supporter’s  heads that giving their electorate votes to their own candidates is a waste of effort and an indulgence we cannot afford.

When elections are close-fought and majorities slim, such indulgences cannot be tolerated, and the Greens need to educate their supporters quick-smart, if we are to win in 2017.

(*Note: figures above were preliminary and not final results.)

If there was an element of frustration and anger in my comments above, it was a ‘face-palm’ moment.  The  poorest families and individuals in New Zealand have paid the price by enduring two terms of National because Green voters chose to indulge themselves by casting both votes for the Green candidate, rather than strategic vote-splitting.

I can understand affluent, propertied Middle Class voting for self-interest.

I find it less palatable that Green voters cast their ballots for some bizarre feeling of political purity. That is selfishness in another form.

Beneficiaries being attacked by a souless government; people living in cars, garages,  rough, or crammed three families into one home; people suffering as social services are slashed, will find it hard to understand such selfishness.

In the United States, blue-collar workers voted for a populist demagogue. The workers who voted for Trump believed that the Left had abandoned them.

We dare not allow the same despair to flourish in our own country.

If politics is a contest of ideas; a battle of ideology; then strategy counts.

The Greens have woken up to this simple reality.

.

.

.

References

Radio NZ: Green Party will not stand in Ōhāriu

Electoral Commission: Official Count Results – Ōhāriu

Radio NZ: Winston Peters takes Northland

Radio NZ: Thousands of state houses up for sale

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2008/09

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2015/16

Fairfax media: Samoan family stuck in makeshift, mosquito-ridden tent – ‘through no fault of their own’

Ministry of Social Development: The housing register

Radio NZ: Labour-Greens deny deal over Ohariu seat

NZ Herald: Political Roundup – Embarrassing but strategic deal for the Greens

Electoral Commission: 2012 MMP Review

Electoral Commission: What people said on the MMP Review

Electoral Commission: The Results of the MMP Review

NZ Herald: Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

NZ Herald: Editorial – National too timid on MMP review

Electoral Commission: Financial Review

NZ Herald:  Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

Radio NZ:  Collins defends not trying for changes to MMP

Fairfax media:  Government’s MMP review response slammed

Scoop media:  Minister’s response to MMP review a travesty –  Lianne  Dalziel

NZ Herald:  Editorial – National too timid on MMP review

TV3 News: Patrick Gower – Labour-Greens do double dirty deal in Ōhāriu

Electoral Commission: Electoral Commission releases party and candidate lists for 2014 election

Kiwiblog: The double dirty deal in Ohariu

Kiwiblog: Marginal Seat deals

Kiwiblog: National’s potential electoral deals

Additional

Electoral Commission:   2017 General Election

Other Blogs

The Standard:  The coat-tail rule and democracy (2014)

Public Address:  Government votes not to improve MMP (2015)

The Standard:  Greens stand aside in Ōhāriu

Previous related blogposts

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Judith Collins issues decision on MMP Review!

Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

Letter to the Editor: Mana, Internet Party, Judith Collins, and “coat-tailing”

Letter to the Editor – Dom Post editorial off into LaLaLand

John Banks: condition deteriorating

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Election 2014 – A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date

Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

.

.

.

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

 

.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2017.

.

.

= fs =

Advertisements

Letter to the Editor – Dom Post editorial off into LaLaLand…

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

Today’s (9 June 2014)  editorial in the ‘Dominion Post was an interesting take on the John Banks Affair and National’s cynical exploitation of MMP’s “coat tailing” provision;

.

Stuff.co.nz

Editorial: Discredited flaw still being exploited

Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

Every electoral system has flaws which politicians exploit. The coat-tailing provision of MMP is now utterly discredited, but it survives because it serves powerful political interests – especially the National Party’s. The clause should be abolished, but no National-led government will do so.

Labour promises to quickly abolish the clause, which allows a party with just one electorate seat to avoid the 5 per cent parliamentary threshold, if it gains power. There is already a paradox here. Labour might have to rely on the votes of the Mana-Internet Party to do so. But Mana-Internet will get into Parliament only via the coat-tailing clause. Nobody believes it will get 5 per cent of the vote.

The case for abolishing coat-tailing is overwhelming, and was made by the Electoral Commission in 2012. That inquiry grew out of John Key’s promise to “kick the tyres” of MMP, but his government ignored the recommendations. The reason is quite simple: coat-tailing helps the National Party. The Government’s refusal to take any notice of the inquiry was naked realpolitik and a supremely cynical act.

National’s coat-tailing deals with ACT in Epsom have left an especially sour taste in voters’ mouths. Key’s “tea-party” with the-then ACT leader John Banks before the 2011 election was widely recognised as a stunt.

The politicians invited the media to their meeting and then shut them out of the coffee-house while they had their “secret” and entirely meaningless chat. It added insult to injury that Key complained to the police after a journalist taped their conversation.

National and ACT had done similar self-serving deals in Epsom before, and showed just how unfair coat-tailing can be. In the 2008 election ACT got 3.65 per cent of the vote but won five seats in the House thanks to coat-tailing. New Zealand First, by contrast, got slightly more than 4 per cent of the vote but no seats in the House, because it won no electorate. This was mad, but highly convenient to the two right-wing parties.

Coat-tailing, in fact, has kept the dying and discredited ACT party alive. It delivered John Banks a seat in the House, and this week Banks stood disgraced when found guilty in the High Court of knowingly filing a false electoral return. Key, whose self-serving deal with Banks has hurt his own credibility, has even persisted in defending Banks’ “honesty” since the verdict. Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira’s electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere.

Hard-nosed strategists such as Internet Party leader Laila Harre argue that this is “taking back MMP”, as though this kind of thing was a blow for people power instead of the cynical politicking that it really is.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, no matter what power-hungry politicians might think. The Government should abolish the coat-tailing clause, along with its associated overhang provision, and drop the 5 per cent threshold to 4 per cent. However, it won’t happen while National is in power.

– The Dominion Post

.

Note the highlighted sentence; ” Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira’s electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere“.

That statement demanded a response…

.

FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
DATE:    Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:11:45 +1200
TO:     "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

 

.

The editor
Dominion Post

.

Your editorial on National's exploitation of MMP's
'coat-tailing' provision was insightful until this jarring
statement ruined it;

"Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry
coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira's
electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere." (9 June)

What "tawdry coat-tailing deal" might that be?

Because every indication is that not only will Labour refuse
to engage in any deal-making, but  MPs Chris Hipkins, Kelvin
Davis, Stuart Nash, et al, have been vociferously attacking
the Internet-Mana Party on social media. If any such "deal"
exists, someone forgot to tell those Labour MPs.

However, if even Labour and Mana-Internet came to an
Epsom-like arrangement - so what?

Those are the rules that this government has decreed and
must be played. Anyone playing by some other mythical
"principled" rules will sit saint-like on the Opposition
benches whilst National gerrymanders the system.

Suggesting otherwise creates an unlevel playing field that
benefits one, at the expense of others, and is untenable.

If it's good enough for National to arrange deals in Epsom,
Ohariu, and soon with the Conservative Party, then it should
be good enough for everyone.

No one takes a knife to a gunfight unless they are dead-set
on losing.


-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

 

.


 

References

Dominion Post:  Editorial – Discredited flaw still being exploited

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

13 June 2013 5 comments

.

MMP vote will lead to total review of system

Acknowledgment: MMP vote will lead to total review of system

.

The above screen-shot of a NZ Herald story was one of many in 2010 that promised New Zealanders a review of  MMP, if voters endorsed that system in the 2011 general election.

Voters duly chose MMP over other alternatives, voting 57.8% in favour – up from 53.9% in November, 1993 (see:  Referendums in New Zealand).

Accordingly, as per legislation, a Review was triggered;

.

s75 Electoral Referendum Act 2010

Acknowledgment: Legislation: s 75 Electoral Referendum Act 2010

.

This was legislation that National – including Minister Judith Collins – passed through the House and enacted  on 20 December 2010.

So for Judith Collins to reject the  implementation  of the Electoral Commission’s recommendations is nothing less than unbelievable.

Especially when she said in the House on 14 May;

Mr Speaker, of course I did not hold the MMP Review. That was a matter that was undertaken by the Electoral Commission. But I can also say that I made it very clear that we need concensus on these matters for any change and there is no concensus for any change.

National has a proven track record of ducking for cover and avoiding responsibility – but even Collins’ assertion that “I did not hold the MMP Review. That was a matter that was undertaken by the Electoral Commission” is something that defies understanding.

To repudiate legislation from a previous government is one thing.

But to repudiate a law that she herself voted for?!?! The brazeness of National politicians is beyond belief.

The arrogance of Aaron Gilmore and that of Judith Collins and her fellow National MPs differs in only one respect –  Gilmore was ‘outed’ by copious quantities of liquor in his bloodstream. At least he had an excuse.

If voters needed further evidence at how out-of-touch National is with the rest of the country – it is Judith Collins thumbing her nose at the democratic process; the people who contributed to the Electoral Commission review; and to every New Zealander who believes we live in a democracy.

A few questions for the Minister to consider*,

  1. What was the point in spending taxpayer’s money on this Review, if you had no intention of implementing it’s findings?
  2. Is this the response that New Zealanders can now  expect with any other Review conducted by your so-called ‘government”?
  3. Will you be compensating those people who spent considerable time and money on making submissions to the Review – only to find it a total waste of effort?
  4. Was the motive for rejecting the Commission’s findings based on the electoral needs of your two coalition partners, John-”What Helicopter Ride?”-Banks and Peter-”No Child Poverty Here – Move Along”-Dunne?
  5. What demands or talks have you had with Banks and Dunne on this issue and was dumping the Commission’s recommendations a condition of their continuing coalition support? (I’m not even expecting a straight answer to that question.)
  6. Have you approached Labour and the Greens for a cross-Party conference on implementing the Commission’s findings? If not, why not?
  7. Since you reject the recommendations of the the Electoral Commission, will you be requesting their resignations, as it appears you no longer have any faith in that body?
  8. Why did you vote for the Electoral Referendum Act 2010 if you had no intention of following through with it?
  9. On an Ego  Scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being “I’m as humble as Jesus Christ – and 10 being “I AM F**KING JESUS CHRIST!”, how do you score your humility/arrogance?
  10. Will you resign?

By the way. A message to John Key.

Dear Leader says he would like the Parliamentary Term extended from three to four years…

Let me offer a pointer to that, Mr Prime Minister,

.

When Hell Freezes Over

.

You want our respect and trust?

Earn it.

.

*

.

Addendum

A link to this blogpost was emailed to the Minister’s office. Even if Collins doesn’t read this, her staff can have a giggle at her expense;

Date: Thurs, 16 May 2013 10.48am
From: Frank Macskasy fmacskasy@yahoo.com
Subject: MMP Review
To: “judith.collins@parliament.govt.nz” judith.collins@parliament.govt.nz

Kia ora Ms Collins,

Regarding your decision to capitulate to your Party’s self-interest in maintaining the viability of your coalition partners (ACT and Peter Dunne), and not implement the recommendations of the Electoral Commission – what is your response to the ten questions I have presented on my blogpost at THE DAILY BLOG; http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/05/16/judith-collins-minister-of-talking-crap/

Any light you can shed on this issue will be appreciated.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 May 2013.

.

*

.

References

Wikipedia:  Referendums in New Zealand

NZ Herald:  MMP vote will lead to total review of system (23 Nov 2010)

Legislation: s 75 Electoral Referendum Act 2010

.

.

= fs =

***Breaking News*** Judith Collins issues decision on MMP Review!

A few minutes ago, in reply to a Question by Green MP, Holly Walker, Justice Minister Judith Collins confirmed that National would not be implementing any of the Electoral Commission’s recommendations on the Review of MMP.

In the Debating Chamber, Ms Walker asked,

“My question is to the Minister of Justice and asks; does she intend to bring legislation to the House that will implement the recommendations of the MMP review in time for the 2014 Elections?”

Collins replied, simply,

“No.”

Holly  Walker then asked a supplementary Question,

“Why did she bother to hold the MMP review if she had no intentions of implementing it’s  recommendations in the timeline intended.”

Collins replied,

“Mr Speaker, of course I did not hold the MMP Review. That was a matter that was undertaken by the Electoral Commission. But I can also say that I made it very clear that we need concensus on these matters for any change and there is no concensus for any change.”

So there we have it.

All the time, effort, and money spent by the Commission and by groups, organisations, political parties, etc – has all been for nought.

The Nats will simply ignore the Commission’s recommendations.

This, my fellow  New Zealanders, is how National listens to the people.

And  they want the Parliamentary term extended from three to four years??

I don’t think so.

.

.

= fs =

Categories: The Body Politic Tags:

John Banks: condition deteriorating

14 August 2012 12 comments

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com

.

1. Electoral Commission review completed

.

Checklist for the week…

  • Electoral Commission recommendation: Reducing the Party threshold from  5% to 4%   
  • Electoral Commission recommendation: Eliminating the one electorate seat party threshold 
  • Consequence of Electoral Commission recommendations: Annoying the hell out of  John Banks 

Yes, it’s been a good week.

In short, the Electoral Commission has recommended the following

  • The one-electorate-seat threshold for allocating list seats should be abolished.
  • The party vote threshold for allocating list seats should be lowered from 5% to 4%
  • The provision for overhang seats should be abolished for parties that do not cross the party vote threshold.
  • Candidates should continue to be able to stand both in an electorate and on a party list at general elections.
  • List MPs should continue to be able to contest by-elections.
  • Political parties should continue to have responsibility for the composition and ranking of candidates on their party lists.
  • Parliament should review the gradual erosion of list seats relative to electorate seats as it risks undermining the diversity and proportionality of Parliament.

This blogger endorses  every recommendation made by the Electoral Commission.

The recommendations eliminate contradictions; remove areas vulnerable to rorting by politicians; and increase the democratic nature of MMP.

The only comment I would make is that the law should be tightened in the area of political Parties ranking their Party Lists. At present, the law states only that such Lists should be democratically ranked – but gives no formal expectations of how the process of ranking is carried out.

In fact, I would endorse Electoral Commission over-sight of all Party List rankings to ensure that there is no ‘giggery-pokery’ by Party apparatchiks. As they say, justice must not only be done – it must be seen to be done.

The same could be said of the political process. And after all, as politicians are fond of telling us when they increase police surveillance powers; if  Parties are honest in their list-ranking process – they have nothing to be afraid off. Right?

However, all up, I believe the Electoral Commission has done an outstanding job on the review.

.

2. Party Responses

.

ACT

ACT supported retaining both the 5% Party and one electorate seat party threshold.

The Electoral Commission rejected both propositions.

ACT’s sole MP, John Banks, called the review recommendations “woeful”, and then went on to state,

Those who want to gerrymander with the electoral system do so because they lost the last election.”

See: Pressure’s on to tweak MMP

Really, Mr Banks?

When it comes to “gerrymandering”, none is guiltier  than ACT and John Key, and their now infamous “cup of tea” incident during last year’s general election campaign. That event was an outrageous attempt to throw the  election by suggesting to Epsom voters that they should cast their electorate votes for John Banks.

For Banks to now try to climb the moral highground, and accuse those who want to reform MMP as “gerrymandering”, is breath-taking and nauseating hypocrisy on a grand scale.

Banks also issued this statement on the ACT website,

ACT will not support any changes to the MMP voting system. No electoral system is perfect, and the proposed changes do not offer any additional benefits to New Zealand. We do not support the abolishment of the one seat threshold.”

See: No Change Necessary to MMP

Aside from the inference that ACT is fast becoming a quasi-fascist party by ignoring the mass of public submissions that support reforms to MMP,  it is clear that John Banks’ Number One Priority is – John Banks. Ie;  getting himself re-elected to Parliament.

This man’s lack of personal insights into his behaviour, and how the public  view his self-serving and clownish actions,  is deeply troubling.

Greens

Of all the major Parties, only the Greens seem to have acted on principle on this issue.

As Green MP, Holly Walker said,

Abolishing the one electorate seat threshold and lowering the party vote threshold will help to reduce the number of ‘wasted’ votes, and ensure that everyone’s votes count.

Removing the one electorate seat threshold will make a big difference for fairness by making sure that the votes of people in some electorates are not given more weight than others.”

See: Electoral Commission recommendations strengthen MMP

It should be pointed out that whether the Party threshold is kept at 5% or 4%, or whether or not the one electorate seat party thresholdis retained or not, makes no difference to the Green Party.

With their electoral support now consistently over 10% (11.06% last year), and not being reliant on winning an electorate seat to gain Parliamentary representation, their submission to the Electoral Commission gives better representation to supporters of other small Parties, such as the Conservative Party.

Now that’s principled.

Labour

Labour’s submission to the Electoral Commission supported reducing the 5% threshold to 4% and doing away with the one electorate seat party threshold.

It’s fairly obvious why; National has been able to rort the one seat electorate seat threshold to allow potential coalition partners to win seats in Parliament.

By doing away with the one electorate seat party threshold, the demise of ACT is all but assured, and Peter Dunne’s party, United Future, becomes irrelevant.

Interestingly, Labour’s support for reducing the Party List threshold to 4%, gives the Conservative Party a greater chance to win seats in Parliament.

It also allows NZ First a better chance to win seats. (In 2008, NZ First missed out on seats by only .93 percentage-points of reaching the magic 5%.)

This blogger suspects that Labour strategists are thinking long-term on this issue. The Conservative Party may well win seats if the threshold is reduced to 4% – but this may be only a short-term victory for Colin Craig. One term in Parliament may alienate further electoral support, as happened to Peter Dunne’s United Future Party from 2002 to 2005 to 2008.)

See: Labour Welcomes MMP Proposals

Mana Party

Predictably,  the Mana Party is the Party that most loses out if the Electoral Commission’s recommendations are adopted.

Mana’s leader, Hone Harawira, won the Maori seat of  Te Tai Tokerau comfortably and also gained 1.08% of the Party Vote. Had Mana received an additional .12% votes, his Party would have gained an extra MP (the “coat tail” effect).

There is a good chance that if the one electorate seat threshold is retained that Mana could reasonably count on an extra one or two MPs. This is especially likely as the Maori Party bleeds electoral support because of it’s close association with the National Party, and increasingly divisive feelings over the sale of SOEs and water rights.

So it is little surprise that the Mana Party stated it’s opposition to abolition of the one electorate seat threshold.

It appears to be silent on the Party vote threshold.

See: Electoral Commission Report on MMP

This blogger believes that removing the one electorate seat threshold should only be a minor nuisance to the Mana Party. As the Maori Party disintergrates, Mana has a decent chance to pick up many of the Maori seats.

National

Like ACT, National supported retaining both the 5% Party andone electorate seat party threshold.

Deputy PM, Bill English has stated that National would consider the recommendations of the Electoral Commission.

Interestingly, right wing commentator and National Party cadre, Matthew Hooton, stated on Radio New Zealand on 13 August,

The other good thing for National in this report is by getting rid of the tomfoolery around the one seat rule, National won’t be tempted to have cups of tea with the likes of John Banks and Peter Dunne and they will become less relevant to the political system…

…So now National, assuming it will accept these recommendations, even though they are against what National itself recommended to the review, but if the government does accept these, then National now knows very clearly it’s path to it’s third term is through that Winston Peters/Colin Craig deal.

… Well strangely enough National recommended that 5% threshold remain and Labour recommended to the review that a 4% threshold be introduced and the review team has gone with what is the Labour party and the public’s preference. And the irony there is I think is that the 5% threshold, maintaining it , would have served the Labour Party’s interest and the 4% threshhold favours National. So the two Parties both, two main parties both, made recommendations that were against their own interests.”

See: Radio NZ, Nine to Noon Show: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Josie Pagani

In this matter, I concur fully with Hooton. Whilst reducing the 5% threshold to 4% may  disadvantage the Left in the short-term – in the long-term it will remove anomalies in the electoral system that  provides fertile ground for  a  pervading  sense of political cynicism, thereby alienating people from  voting.

The worst thing to put people off voting is a perception that the system is “rigged” to produce pre-determined results.

That’s why we got rid of First Past the Post.

New Zealand First

Winston Peters has curiously split his Party’s response to the Electoral Commission’s recommendations;

  •  5% vs 4% Threshold

Peters states that NZ First wants the 5% threshold retained, even though it might disadvantage his Party.

Right-wing blogger, David Farrar, stated on Radio NZ’s 4pm Panel on 14 August, that he considered Peters’ preference for 5% as “principled”.

Nonsense.

Peters wants the 5% threshold retained because it suits his strategy. NZ First has a better than 50/50 chance of crossing the 5% threshold in upcoming elections – especially now that his Party has access to millions of dollars in Parliamentary funding and free TV advertising.

Conversely, by insisting that  the 5% threshold be retained denies the Conservative Party the chance to win seats in Parliament, as reaching 5% is considerably harder than 4%. The Christian Coalition  Party achieved 4.33% in the first MMP election in 1996.

See: New Zealand general election, 1996

This assessment of Peters’ rationale is confirmed when, in the next breath, he supports abandoning the one electorate seat party threshold,

  • One electorate seat party threshold

There have been numerous attempts to corrupt the integrity of MMP by the National, ACT and United Future parties by misusing the intent of the one electorate seat threshold for the allocation of list seats.”

It’s interesting that Peters wants the 5% threshold retained, and insists,

Rt Hon Winston Peters says the 1993 referendum confirmed that the public wanted the threshold for a party to win list seats in a general election to be five per cent.

“It shouldn’t be tampered with now by Parliament”.”

See: MMP Recommendations Are Anti-Democratic – Peters

– but at the same time is comfortable with removing the one electorate seat party threshold despite it also being part and parcel of the 1993 Referendum?!

Contradictory, much?

The reason Peters wants the one electorate seat party threshold removed is that it prevents the Consertive Party from doing an Epsom or Ohariu-type deal with National, and thereby gaining Parliamentary seats by winning an electorate.

This is precisely how ACT gained five seats in the 2008 electorate;

  1. ACT failed to reach 5%, and gained only 3.65% of the Party Vote
  2. National did a deal with ACT, letting Rodney Hide win the Epsom electorate
  3. The one electorate seat threshold allowed four other MPs enter Parliament on Hide’s “coat tails”.

In simple words, Peters wants the Conservative Party from winning seats in Parliament in a similar manner.

In doing so, he retains his role as sole “king maker” between National and Labour/Greens.

.

3. The Thresholds – Why Change was necessary

.

5% Party Threshold

The Party vote threshold was probably originally set at 5% to allay fears that Parliament would be over-run by a plethora of small parties, as has happened in Israel.  The resulting instability would have destroyed MMPs reputation within a few years, and would not have survived the subsequent referendum.

A relatively ‘median’ 5% threshold could allow a measure of proportionality, whilst at the same time not resulting in the “Israeli Disease”. (Israeli politics has been dominated by numerous small, extremist, political parties, elected under proportional representation  with almost no Party threshold. In 2009 this resulted in a dozen parties being represented in The Knesset. See: Politics of Israel)

With MMP firmly bedded-in after 15 years, and the public comfortable with Parliamentary  proportional representation, it seems appropriate to reduce the Party threshold to 4%. This provides space and opportunity for a new political party to form; win representation in Parliament; and provide fresh ideas to be debated.

One electorate seat threshold

The one electorate seat threshold has always been an anomaly – but with justification. It was assumed that despite  MMP being favourable to small political Parties, it might still be difficult to win representation in Parliament. It was considered that if a small Party had the electoral support of voters to win one electorate (which was still fought under First Past the Post), then they deserved their full compliment of MPs, according to their Party vote, regardless of whether or not they reached 5%.

The one electorate seat threshold was a kind of “dispensation” from the 5% threshold, to ensure that a small Party could have an effective voice in Parliament.

Not only is it no longer needed – but the one electorate seat threshold dispensation has lately been exploited by larger parties such as National,  gerrymandering the system to gain  potential coalition partners  in Parliament.

It has also been demonstrated to be highly unfair.

In the 2008 General Election neither ACT nor NZ First reached the 5% Party threshold.  But because National assisted Rodney Hide to win the electorate seat of Epsom, ACT was given the  one electorate seat threshold dispensation, and won five seats in Parliament.

The irony was that ACT won fewer Party Votes (85,496 or, 3.65%) than NZ First (95,356 or, 4.07%) – but ACT still got into Parliament.

That result was not the fair system of proportional representation that was ‘sold’ to the public in 1993.

That situation was untenable, and the public stated as such in their submissions to the Electoral Commission. It was an affront to the Kiwi sense of fairness.

Accordingly, the public demand an end to it.

.

4. National’s dilemma

 

.

National now has a clear choice – and it is in a bind.

If it decides to accept the recommendations of the Electoral Commission to lower the Party threshold to 4% and abandon the one electorate seat threshold – then it risks alienating support from it’s two, one-man band, coalition partners, Peter Dunne and John “I-can’t-remember” Banks.

Dunne and Banks may push their coalition deal with National to the brink – and over the edge – if National accepts the Commission’s reforms.

If the reforms are implemented, it will make Dunne irrelevant, and John Banks and his Party, dog-tucker.

Dunne may win Ohariu – but he would never again have the chance to bring one or two extra MPs into Parliament on his “coat tails”.

And Epsom voters would dump Banks in favour of their own true-blue National candidate.

This would make life unpleasant for both Dunne and Banks. They might decide to issue an ultimatum (see below, “John Banks – mental confusion worsening?”) to abandon the reforms – or else they would walk from the Coalition. What would they have to lose?

But if National decides not to enact the Commission’s reforms, it risks losing a potential  coalition partner – the Conservative Party – in 2014. A Party threshold of 4% would mean 5 Conservative Party MPs.

That is simply too good an offer to pass up. Especially if National drops to 43% or 45% in the polls, as this blogger predicts will happen in the next twelve to 18  months.

Tough times ahead for the Nats…

.

5. John Banks – mental confusion worsening?

.

John Banks’ mental condition is deteriorating.

Today, the Member for Epsom forgot which political Party he is a member of, when he said on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report“,

The National Party are not going to support this proposal.”

Hear: Listen to John Banks on Morning Report

And again, on MSN News, Banks made it clear that he believed himself to be a National Party spokesperson when he said,

This is not going to happen.  The National Party is not going to support this proposal.”

John Banks is an ACT member of parliament – not National. He can no more speak for National than Hone Harawira  could speak on behalf of Labour.

It is becoming more apparent each day that the fellow is losing his tenuous grip on reality. This blogger hopes that he will receive the treatment he requires and makes a speedy recovery from his delusions and shocking memory loss.

Tomorrow, Banks may attempt to walk on water. Or invade Poland.

.

*

.

Previous blogposts

Supplementary Member system – it’s a bloody rort!

Some thoughts on MMP

John Banks – escaping justice

Additional

Radio NZ: Drop threshold from 5% to 4% – MMP review

Radio NZ: National won’t back MMP change, says Banks

.

.

= fs =