Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Election '20: The No Threshold Hypothetical

15 Responses

  • Josh Petyt,

    Sounds more democratic to me.

    Japan • Since Apr 2014 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    I struggle to see how that would be a worse parliament than what we got. Even people I disapprove of deserve representation… and that “have to get a full quota” idea is just silly.

    Albeit I don’t know off the top of my head how fractional MPs get rounded (hopefully they’re not truncated!) but luckily The Spinoff explain it. Why should 1-seat parties not just get dealt with the same as everyone else, and when they get right to the end chances are some party with slightly less than 1/120th of the vote will get one MP.

    That wasted vote bothers me a lot more than any wittering about microparties.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1232 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The whole point of the threshold is to keep nutcases like Advance NZ away from power. It might not be a pure democracy, but I'll settle for the compromise.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    keep nutcases like Advance NZ away from power

    Doesn't work - ACT and United Future have both been elected, as well as Winston First.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1232 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    What keeps nutcases away from power is, (i) parties having a wide range of different potential coalition partners, and conversely, (ii) governing parties being forced to run policies past the scrutiny of their partners. The threshold is a blight on NZ democracy.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1934 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to linger,

    I detect no appetite in the NZ electorate to turn away from establishment consensus, competent centrist technocracy in favour of more chaotic but more representative coalition government. Surely the recent election was evidence of how the NZ electorate favours competence over democratic purity. COVID has in this country, in the short term at least, shored up the authority of centrist, expert led governance – that is why Ardern won an absolute majority, and why Biden has won (the real lesson of Biden’s win is that in the North Atlantic English speaking democracies establishment technocratic centrism can still just about squeak a narrow win on the back of a mis-handled pandemic and a huge turnout) and Johnson is floundering (despite UK Labour under Starmer being timid, utterly visionless, virulently centrist and more interested in pursuing a vendetta against the reformative left in his own party than opposing the Tories).

    COVID has (to my mind at least) put paid to the nonsensical myth of Kiwi “rugged individualism” and decisively demonstrated that a predilection for mildly authoritarian politics and collectivist social proscriptions is our actual cultural preference and this preference was not extinguished by the neoliberal revolution, merely made dormant. Hence, it seems to me most NZers would not regard the threshold as a blight on our democracy so much as a bulwark against reprobate politicians and “undesirable” social elements getting a voice in government.

    Perhaps a meta to take away from this pandemic is COVID may indicate a subtle changing of NZ – and Australian – society away from the extreme individualism of European and US political culture towards a more Asian style of collectivist politics. Maybe we are now more Asian in some ways than we realise.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Fentex, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I don't know where you heard any myth about 'Rugged NZ individualism".

    NZ is generally pragmatic, and I think support for that approach is what we saw and incidentally why national did so badly.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Jackson James Wood,

    Imagine Billy TK all alone in parliament. It would be gold.

    New Zealand • Since May 2011 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Ben McKenzie, in reply to ,

    If so, then he's got incredible foresight. He's been doing these hypotheticals since before Advance NZ was even a twinkle in JLR's eye.

    Since Nov 2019 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    If people wanted a more representative (?) electoral system than MMP, then they should have voted for the Single Transferable Vote, which tends to reward large demographic concentrations of specific constituencies without a five percent threshold. In practice, it's worked over in Ireland and Tasmania, but at the Australian federal and state level, it's used for bicameral Upper House elections and has resulted in the election of single-issue hobby group parties, fundamentalist Christian zealots like NSW;'s Fred Nile and the odious anti-immigrant racist One Nation rabble. It could be said that it denies potential authoritarians absolute political power within the Australian Labor and Liberal-National Coalition blocs, but Australia has no elaborated Bill of Rights like New Zealand does.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin, in reply to ,

    That seems like an odd thing to say but even if it was, what interest has Jaime-Lee's lawyer got in a counter factual 2020 election without a threshold?

    Because if JL is paying a lawyer to have an opinion on that, then JL needs to add this to his list of things to reflect upon.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Surely the recent election was evidence of how the NZ electorate favours competence over democratic purity.

    I guess this comes down to perception, but in 2020 7.9% of votes were spent on parties that ultimately weren’t represented in Parliament. By my count, that’s the highest portion of lost votes ever under MMP, at least from those who chose to vote. It was very nearly much higher except for Rawiri Waititi scraping through for the Maori Party in Waiariki. Next highest was the first MMP election in 1996 which reached 7.54%. (Lowest was 1.3% lost in 2005, in which we had 8 different parties represented.) Also, unlike many other elections, there’s a strong argument that all of the lost votes in 2020 went to parties which the voters probably knew did not have a realistic chance of reaching Parliament, or probably should have realised that if they thought about it.

    What really concerns me about MMP right now is how we’re losing parties, and that maybe helps to explain why there’s such a high portion of lost votes in 2020 because there are fewer and fewer realistic choices to vote at. Despite relentless trying, no party has ever reached Parliament under MMP unless it’s been there before, or unless a recognised MP with a supportive electorate has jumped ship from a big party (now much harder thanks to those recent changes), or unless a big party has unlocked the back door somehow through a deal… usually where they expect the small party to be kept on a leash for their own strategic reasons.

    We’ve been letting existing parties get old and stale for some time, and several have recently dropped off. We certainly should have lost ACT several elections back if its zombie corpse hadn’t been kept alive by National. Meanwhile some of the newer parties trying to represent stuff that more modern minorities want to advocate for, whether it’s the likes of TOP or a polar opposite Conservative, are finding it next-to-impossible to get in. This is despite having substantial amounts of support even when restricted to voters who know that breaking the threshold, or an electorate, is very unlikely. It’s unclear how many potential parties or candidates haven’t even bothered wasting their time and money and effort because it’s demonstrably impossible to succeed.

    I don’t know if considering recommendations from the 2012 MMP review would solve all the issues, but it’d certainly be a good start, especially as the Yes vote for keeping MMP was always meant to be conditional on running that review to make MMP work better. It’s had both public consultation and expert review, and was only swept under the rug because the Minister of the day had too much power to trash it for her government’s own short term political advantage. Meanwhile a separate government has pushed through populist but probably damaging changes to the Electoral Act with token consultation, and mostly because of a short term coalition deal that it wouldn't have needed if there had been more possible coalition partners to choose from.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Ward,

    It appears that keeping the 5% is intended to reduce representation diversity. While I am not sure about the sense/effect of 0%, surely 2% or even a mere 3% would not lead to a downfall of ‘democracy’!

    Nelson • Since Jul 2011 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Bruce Ward,

    It appears that keeping the 5% is intended to reduce representation diversity. While I am not sure about the sense/effect of 0%, surely 2% or even a mere 3% would not lead to a downfall of ‘democracy’!

    The original rationale for the threshold in the German version of MMP was to prevent another Nazi Party from pulling a 1933. It's worked mostly well to date, even wannabes like the AfD are kept mostly in check.

    That said, NZ's threshold can do with some tweaking. 4% would be a good compromise between political stability and political diversity.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5434 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    4% is what the review recommended at first, although it also noted that it wasn’t clear what would work best between 4% and 3%.

    Its fuller recommendation was to run three elections at 4% and then to consider if it should be dropped further. If Judith Collins hadn’t binned the whole thing then we might have been considering a shift from 4% to 3% after the 2020 election.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

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