I wasn't going to post about this on Geekzone, but someone else has and I think the issue deserves a few moments of my time. :-)
I support MMP for several reasons:
1. It is a fair, proportional system where each of our party votes has the same potential power to elect representatives provided we reach the 5% threshold or the party we support wins one seat.
2. My party vote lets me help to elect a whole swag of MPs from the party I support from across the whole country. It isn't limited to 1/120th of the country. I can vote for - and elect - several people from the 'team' I support...and the party vote is a vote with *nationwide* effect. It is not limited to just one tiny electorate or a single candidate. My MMP party vote is my Big Picture vote and NO OTHER system offered allows us to do this.
3. My party vote gives me a way to vote positively for the party I support. I do not have to vote "against" anyone as almost always had to do in the bad old days.
4. I like list MPs. They are the people who genuinely represent me. My local MP is *always* from a party I do not support and definitely does not share my views on many, many topics. Too many local MPs are long-serving party hacks who still date from the pre-MMP era having entered Parliament 20 years ago...and more. I'd like to do away with local MPs completely.
Some don't like candidates being on both the local ballot and on the list. I have NO problem with this at all as it is plain to me there are two ways to elect MPs: locally and nationally. I do not confuse the two. A candidate they might not like in Taihape (or they like them almost enough and may just have come second) might be seen as simply awesome in Masterton, but they can't stand in both places.
It's obvious to me that if you said candidates could not run locally and on the list, you would very soon find that no one in their right mind would stand AT ALL locally unless they thought they were certain to win. Such a restriction would effectively reserve the local seats - at best - for two candidates only. Some might not even be contested at all where people always vote one way. Why would anyone "waste" a good candidate in a local seat that can't win when it would make much more sense to have them on the party list?
Leave it is as it is or get rid of local seats altogether. Banning locals from also being on the list would convert local seats - effectively - into rotten boroughs for the worst party hacks...and local voters would be left with little choice.
I don't like FPP because:
1. It gives 100% of the power to a single minority party the majority of voters did not support. If you hate "minority" parties having "too much power" then FPP would have to be the very worst of them, giving the whole lot to just one party who might have only 38% support (National 1981).
2. Under FPP, my vote is limited to just one candidate in just one of 120 electorates. The other 119 MPs are *completely* beyond my reach and utterly unaccountable to me in any way.
3. FPP wastes votes and thereby steals seats from other parties and gives them to the party supported by the largest MINORITY. It is rare for a person to be elected with more than 50% of the local vote. Most people didn't want that person, but FPP saw them elected anyway. In the 2010 Auckland Council elections the two people elected in Albany Ward each got less than 10% of the vote and the other 80%+ of votes cast elected exactly no one. Across wider Auckland, 62.5% of votes cast for Auckland Council elected no one at all thanks to FPP. Of the 20 members of the Auckland Council, 13 of them didn't even get 30% of the vote in their ward. FPP is awful.
4. For 20 years under FPP I never elected anyone. That sucks. No thanks.
1. PV is a clever way to elect one person most people didn't actually want. The object of PV is still to give 100% of the power to a single minority party most people don't actually support and was not their first choice.
2. PV only lets me vote in 1 of the 120 electorates. The other 119 MPs are completely beyond my reach and are utterly unaccountable to me. If I live in a safe seat for a major party I don't support, I may as well not bother voting. In Australia, there are seats that have been held by a party for 50 years and more. People who live there effectively have no one they want to represent them if they did not vote for that person.
1. SM is another system trying very hard to give all the power to one minority party the majority of voters didn't vote for. It does this by effectively "stealing" seats from minor parties by discounting their party votes to 25% of their present value....and the lion's share of the list seats will go to the two major parties who are already able to win the local seats with as little as 33% of the vote locally (or 32% if you want to look at Peter Dunne in Ohariu-Belmont). FPP again...and it's terrible.
2. SM limits your votes to just 1 of 90 electorates and a 25% discounted share of the list. The other 89 local MPs are completely beyond your reach and utterly unaccountable to you.
3. If you don't like one minority party the majority didn't vote for having all the power, then you don't want SM.
1. STV can be proportional if there are enough people running in each district. The proposal put forward suggest districts of 3 members in rural areas and 7 members in urban areas. The result would be non-proportional outcomes in those rural areas that would tend to favour the party that does well in rural areas. That would usually be....National. Meanwhile, in urban areas, with 7 members the outcomes would be more proportional, but at the same time giving the best shot to parties who don't normally form the laregst minority in urban areas.....(again...National). This highlights my major problem with STV: It is too easy to gerrymander by fiddling with the numbers in each district and the boundaries of the districts overall. The STV system proposed would exaggerate the position of a party with strong rural support and disadvantage parties less strong in rural areas. (MMP can't be gerrymandered: 10% of the vote gets you 10% of the seats. End of story).
2. STV limits my vote to just one district. MPs from other districts are utterly unaccountable to me. if I live in a rural district with just 3MPs, I'll probably find I can only elect someone I want with great difficulty if they aren't the party most people round here vote for.
2. But STV is the best of the alternate systems and definitely will be my choice on the second vote......but it is poor second to MMP.
The parties choose all the candidates who ever win seats no matter which system you adopt. There hasn't been a true independent (not previously elected via a party) elected locally since 1945. Some parties are more democratic than others. Candidate selection should NOT be confused with election. If you want to select candidates...JOIN A PARTY.
For example, the Greens rank their party list by national postal ballot of ALL members. You can't get much more democratic than that. Other parties may hold conferences with delegates selected / elected from each area. Still others see the party HQ just rank people. Again, some parties are more democratic than others.
Don't support any party that doesn't select candidates democratically. Under any system. Candidate selection isn't just an issue under MMP. Far from it.
If you don't like one minority party the MAJORITY did not vote for ending up with ALL the power, then there is NO WAY you should be voting for FPP, PV or SM.
If you want a fair proportional outcome where your vote is as good as the next person's when it comes to electing people from the 'team' you support....then MMP is the only way to go.
If you can't see that electing 20 MPs via your party vote is better than - maybe - electing one or two via STV....then go for STV or perhaps one if the other systems that will waste your vote entirely and you won't elect anyone at all (FPP)....or will waste it locally AND discount it and give the list seat to someone else (SM)
But I'll be voting for MMP mainly I hate one minority party the majority didn't vote for having ALL the power....and MMP is the ONLY system that lets hold entire parties to account across the whole country.
Comment by networkn, on 21-Nov-2011 12:36
I don't understand your comments around FPP giving all the power to a minority party, it wouldn't be a minority if it got the most number of votes surely?
Comment by James, on 21-Nov-2011 13:01
The problem is, it DOESN'T get the majority of VOTES, only the majority of ELECTORATES. Because electorates have inevitably different numbers of people in them simply due to the geographical issue this is a problem.
Lets' have a simple and extreme example of 3 electorates in a two party election
Electorate 1: 50000 people
Electorate 2: 10000 people
Electorate 3: 10000 people
1: 45000 people vote for Party A, Party A wins
2: 6000 people vote for Party B, Party B wins
3: 6000 people vote for Party B, Party B wins
So, Party B won 2 electorates, in FPP, they win the election and become the government. But Party B only actually got 12000 votes out of the 70000 votes cast, while Party A got 45000 but loses the election!
Careful tailoring of electorates minimises the problem but these results do continue to happen in FPP elections. It also means that the "swing" electorates effectively decided elections, it gives far disproportional power to those few voters in "swing" electorates.
Comment by James, on 21-Nov-2011 13:09
I also favour MMP for it's simplicity and it's proportionality. But it needs some changes.
#1 - in elections you should have to choose to EITHER stand in an electorate OR go on the list, you don't get to have your cake and eat it too
#2 - electorate MPs should not be permitted to be ministers, they are to work for the electorate, not the Ministry of whatever
#3 - winning an electorate does not get around the threshold - no list mps come in "on the coat tails"
#4 - reduction of threshold
Comment by John2010, on 21-Nov-2011 13:16
... and there are not 120 electorates under FFP. There are only 120 (or so) Members (not electorates) under the current system due to the presence of the list MP's.
Comment by James, on 21-Nov-2011 14:55
That's exactly my dream, get rid of party politics in electorates. Elect people to represent the specific needs of that electorate, not tow a party line.
And hold those MP's accountable to that electorate, by way of not allowing them to have a ministerial portfolio. A minister has far too much stuff that they should be doing for the county to be able to devote time to an electorate that put them there, that they SHOULD be working for.
That's what MMP is supposed to do, elect the PERSON you think will represent your electorate best, elect the PARTY you think will represent your country best. The person who understands your electorate's challenges best and has the best ideas to overcome them could and should come from any party.
But because party politics inevitably takes center stage for all the electorate candidates, what you get is more like "elect up to two parties".
Election forms shouldn't even state what party each electorate candidate is from, it would force people to learn about their candidates and what they what for their electorate.
People should be asking themselves, what has your electorate MP done for your electorate.
Comment by Shay, on 21-Nov-2011 15:38
Hate to break it to you but when:
Similarly....Peter Dunne won Ohariu in 2008 with 32.16% of the vote. Despite 67.84% having not voted for him.
That was under MMP. No voting system will ever cater to your version of 'The Majority'. Even under MMP an MP can be elected with only 20% of the vote while the 80% if divided up amongst other candidates.
Under MMP National could have 30% of the vote while Labour may have 40%. If National made a better coalition then they could still be the government.
The problem with MMP is that parties like Labour get a high percentage of the vote and the end up having to make f***ing stupid compromises to please mino parties just so they can get a coalition going. Think anti smacking bill, foreshore and seabed act & fart tax, all BS policies that wouldn't have come about if big parties didn't have to bend to the will of minor ones.
MMP is like if you won a new car but then I won the keys and won't give them to you unless you give me something I want. Total BS
I do agree that FFP is not the best option.
Comment by lyonrouge, on 21-Nov-2011 18:09
MMP seemed OK until Winston Peters. MMP is a theory, a theory disproven once is no longer valid. He disproved it and threatens to again. It must go. STV is looking hopeful, do we know of other countries using it?
Comment by lucky015, on 21-Nov-2011 18:50
I see 2 Major problems as it is with MMP, Both of which seem to be problems that no other system can fix.
1. Despite the use of Electorates no politician is actually held accountable to their Electorate in any way, Therefore the entire use of Electorates is a waste of time. MMP Doesn't help because it leaves a back door into Parliament even if they fail in their Local Electorate. The problem is compounded by the very small amount of people who actually care who their local MP is so simply end up voting for those who are with the party they support.
As it stands an MP fears their party more than their Electorate.
2. Minor parties get too much control and use that to force the hand of Major parties into allowing their often less popular policies (Often even less popular policies within their own voters) into legislation.
As mentioned in a post above "anti smacking bill, foreshore and seabed act & fart tax" and I'm sure there are plenty more, This type of legislation is often something more personal from the MP themselves rather than a Primary Party Policy and often not even particularly supported by their own voters.
Minor parties where intended to be given a vote in all matters as expected but should never be given the right to tie the hands of a Major party as they have done recently.
Comment by oxnsox, on 22-Nov-2011 09:07
@lyonrouge and @lucky015
It's easy to gereralise that MMP lets in minor parties with too much control (eg: Peters First), but I believe you're missing a couple of important things in that view.
Firstly a percentage of the population actually does support what they want, thats how they were voted seats in parliment.
Secondly, the fact that they end up in positions of power within a coalition is due to their ability to negotiate a deal with the other parties they support. If they have disproportionate power its because they've been given it by their colilition partner parties.
Soo it's a case of power corrupting, those wanting the power (to be in government) will in the case of the major party compromise too much to get it, whilst the minor party asks for (and is often given) too much. If there was a way to legislate around how these alliances are formed that might help, but I doubt it. We're talking Politics and politicians here.
Like Steve I'm an MMP fan, and yes it could be tweeked a little. Personally I think it's taken the country (and it's politicians) some time to get their heads around MMP. And your example of giving NZ First undue influence is a good example of that.(National have again said they won't work with them, even before the election happens. Other parties haven't.)
I think the current government is probably the first proper MMP one we've had (the Maori party didn't need to be there but they are), and I applaud John Key for including them. However I'm not so happy about the manipulation of the system via the Epsom and Ohariu issues.
Maybe if we get to keep MMP we can try and make the sort of tweeks that minimise the ways minor parties can be used to manipulate results (Epsom) and have undue influence (NZ First) if they become coalition partners. But we'll never get it right.... because there is no ideal system. One size does not fit all.
Comment by Mycenius, on 22-Nov-2011 16:45
I can't believe anyone thinks MMP is a sensible rational system. It disenfranchises almost all voters, as it gives the smallest parties the greatest amount of power proportional to their size, it prevents strong decisive leadership and decision making, and enforces a muddling, compromised, middle of road lethargy that undermines good goverment.
At the end of the day MMP was invented by the Allied Powers post WW2 specificallyy to create a politically weak Germany so that no single party could ever make any decisive decisions or have decisive control (i.e. govern alone) to avoid a repeat of the National-Socialist experience. Why any other country would choose such a system is madness, when it's deliberately designed to handicap a government - in fact no other country bar NZ would be crazy enough to even consider it...
The simple fact is it's been a huge failure - we need strong decisive governments brave enough to make the big hard decisions, and to be able to see them through - it doesn't matter who the government is (Labour, National, etc), or if all of us think the decisions are right or wrong, but it does matter that they can make them and actually do some decisive long-term planning adn at least attempt to fix this country's long slow slide into both economic & social chaos...
Anyone who's pro-MMP is just fooling themselves - and unfortunately the best options are far too complex for the average punter to understand - so the best thing for this country is to return to FPP ASAP, and institute 4-year terms, it doesn't matter if you like who the goverment is at least they can actually 'do' something adn have enough time for new policies to take effect...
Comment by CruciasNZ, on 23-Nov-2011 11:05
I don't like MMP simply for the reasons that it allows non-elected MP's to have a seat in the government and that it has Maori electorates (but that's a whole other conversation)
However on the other side of the fence, it does provide a check and balance system. Coalitions prevent one single party from reining supreme. Imagine just how much damage National could do if it could govern alone (ie selling assets)
Single Transferable Vote seems good, coalitions are generally needed but there no list MPs. Need to really read up on it before Saturday
Comment by AndrewTD, on 23-Nov-2011 12:16
I'm defintiley voting to keep MMP, and my second choice will be STV -as the least bad of all the alternatives.
I hope/expect MMP will "win" in this referendum, and then I am looking forward with interest to see how the debate on "tweaking" MMP evolves.
Whatever tweaks they make to MMP, it can't be worse than the alternative systems.
But what I'd really like to see us debate is how we can deploy a sensible mechanism to halt the recent rampant "urgent" law making abuses our governments have indulged in (none more so than the current govenrment in this regard).
A two house system puts an effectve break on this sort of behaviour.
Perhaps that would work for us. Althouh we are quite a small state, so maybe something a bit smaller/simpler could be worked out.
Comment by alexx, on 25-Nov-2011 22:57
The strong decisive FPP government claim is often made.
The third Labour government (1970's) introduced a new compulsory superannuation scheme.
The following “strong decisive” National government led by Robert Muldoon, cancelled the scheme and replaced it with universal superannuation.
They also introduced the Think Big program of large industrial/energy projects and a wage and price freeze.
Then we had more “strong decisive government” with Labour in 1984 with it's policies of deregulation, corporatistion and eventually privatisation... and of course those Think Big projects were cancelled or scaled back.
Many strong decisive moves, but really, are swings from left to right with policies implemented, then cancelled, a sign of strength or weakness in the system?
These “strong decisive” policies were all being implemented by parties with less than 50% of the majority. When Muldoon returned to power in 1978 it was with 39.8% of the vote and less votes than Labour (40.4%) and returned again in 1981 with 38.8% of the vote (Labour got 39.0%).
I remember voting in the Piako electorate in the Waikato – one of the safest seats in the country, where the Luxton family held the seat for National for decades and the result was a foregone conclusion, then moving to the more volatile Hamilton West and eventually to the Eden electorate in Auckland – with one of the narrowest margins in the country. The whole thing seemed wrong to me – surely my vote should be worth the same regardless of where I lived and why should the minority dictate to the majority?
I’ll be voting for MMP – a return to FPP would be a worst possible outcome.