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Why I'm Supporting MMP

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 21-Nov-2011 11:20

[Update: I've turned moderation on for comments for Election Day. I'll approve any comments and turn moderation off after the polls close.]

 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.  

FPP

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. 

PV

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. 

SM

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.  

STV

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.  

Summary

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.



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Steve Withers
Auckland
New Zealand