Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Threshold

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    Win an electorate -- you're in.

    No list MPs until your party has has reached 5% threshold.

    Party percentages (5% and over) allocated on a proportional basis among the seats available to make 120. No overhang.

    This contradicts John.

    If you win an electorate, but have less than 5% of the party vote, either your party vote counts (or one MP's worth of it), or there's an overhang.

    Take for example Act on Saturday night. Under your scheme, Rodney would get into parliament, but no other Act MPs. He's either an overhang MP, or, 1/120th of the party vote (at least) remains with Act. If Act don't form part of the party vote, there must be an overhang.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    JohnS:

    How bad would that be?

    Pretty bad. It means less proportionality, less representation, and more disenfranchisement for a start. Thse are precisely the things we should be striving to avoid.

    Solve the problem with more democracy, not less. Abolish the threshold, and let every vote[*] count.

    [*] Because someone will be a dick: every vote within the limit set by having a 120 seat Parliament.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    kyle: many people think the evil of an overhang lies in having to increase the total size of the House, and so they seek to address the problem by capping the number of MPs at 120. This misses the real problem: disproportionality.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Luther,

    Can someone explain how Bill and Ben (and the Kiwi Party) get one seat?

    1/120th is ~0.84% and they just broke the magic 0.5%. Even if the parties below them are redistributed evenly around the list they still wouldn't hit 0.8.

    So what part of some algorithm am I missing or ignorant of?

    Melbourne • Since Nov 2008 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Sainte-Laguë allocation formula

    Bill & Ben get a high enough quotient to qualify for a seat. It's that simple.

    (And again: no votes are ever redistributed. Every vote counts for the party it is given to, and no other)

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Tough we could redistribute votes, with a preference, or even let the parties do it themselves after the fact. It'd restore proportion in a fair part without letting in the little guys, and might be something the majors would go for easier.

    I'd love to see more people able to express what they really want. We should have Condorset for the electorates for the same reason, Smith/IRV for the finicky details.

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    On this basis, Obama isn't the President-elect either.

    Voters in the US elect members of the electoral college, who choose the President.

    The "electors" here are most everyone over 18 who cares to vote; in the US they're the guys in the electoral college, who are themselves elected by various popular voting means. Our electors choose the composition of parliament by apportioning lists, theirs choose the president and VP.

    John Key is the leader of the party who will form the core of our next government, and will (by convention) be the next Prime Minister. But the electors haven't chosen a PM, and neither has the next government yet (they could just as well choose Maurice when the time comes).

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Maybe St-Lague isn't the optimum system if you don't have a threshold?

    How about abolishing the threshold, but having MPs parties that don't make 5% ables to vote on general legislation, but not confidence and supply? Which would stop them having a disproportionate say in government (and stop Peter Dunne having an associate minister job in perpetuity, which he wouldn't as a has-been National MP).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Evan Yates,

    On this basis, Obama isn't the President-elect either.

    Voters in the US elect members of the electoral college, who choose the President.

    But the electoral college has spoken and therefore Obama IS the president-elect. By whom he was elected is not the point. Whether by citizens or colleges, it doesn't matter, he is the man in waiting

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 197 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    the electoral college has spoken and therefore Obama IS the president-elect. By whom he was elected is not the point. Whether by citizens or colleges, it doesn't matter, he is the man in waiting

    The members of the Electoral College won't vote until December 15.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    "...he is the man in waiting"

    What Graeme said, and also the Electoral College do not technically have to vote in Obama (though I'm sure they will).

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    I guess that depends what you mean by the rule.

    If you mean "if you win an electorate seat, you get your party vote share of MPs even if it's less than 5%", that would be easy to change to "you just win electorates, no list MPs for you until you get to 5%".

    Yeah, that's what I meant. I definitely think under MMP the electoral seat should go to the winner, that being much of the point of MMP (as the name suggests).

    All electorate victories however, would be an overhang

    Oh bugger. Is that the reason the committee recommended the current system then?

    I haven't had a look at I/S's argument for no threshold yet. Maybe that's the way to go.

    And then, I always liked STV.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Evan Yates,

    The members of the Electoral College won't vote until December 15.

    So the problem is that the articles keep saying that Obama had passed the 270 EC votes needed when in fact they had only received instructions from voters indicating they should vote that way...

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 197 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Tussock: Umm yup. That was my point.

    kyle: many people think the evil of an overhang lies in having to increase the total size of the House, and so they seek to address the problem by capping the number of MPs at 120. This misses the real problem: disproportionality.

    Yes. But if you have electorate seats, it's not possible to avoid that. If I win an electorate, but get no party votes, either you ignore or overrule the electorate result, or parliament no longer represents the proportionality of the party vote.

    To make MMP properly proportional, you'd have to do away with the mixed membership component, and not have electorates.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I ran the electoral night figures through excel and came up with my own Sainte-Laguë formula.

    If I've done my calculations right (and I'm completely unqualified, so it's possible I haven't):

    1 The quotient to get within the 120 is 8129 - the 120th seat, allocated to national.
    2 Missing out is 8122, the 121st seat, which Labour would get. So specials could easily change the final allocation.
    3 If you were to play with the numbers, and add 300 party votes to Labour, and leave National's the same, Labour gets the 120th, National loses one. You have to add close to 20,000 votes to give Labour two extra seats however.
    4 You have to add several thousand to the Green vote to give them an extra MP. Depending how the specials play out, that second MP would likely come from National as well.
    5 Act's 5th seat isn't particularly vulnerable, unless they do pretty badly come specials time - have to lose about five thousand.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    But if you have electorate seats, it's not possible to avoid that. If I win an electorate, but get no party votes, either you ignore or overrule the electorate result, or parliament no longer represents the proportionality of the party vote.

    To make MMP properly proportional, you'd have to do away with the mixed membership component, and not have electorates.

    Precisely. And since we're not willing to do that, then the question is how to accomodate the disproportionality introduced by electorates in the least harmful way. And on that front, capping the size of parliament makes the problem worse, not better.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    unless they do pretty badly come specials time - have to lose about five thousand.

    It's not really possible to lose votes from the Specials.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It's not really possible to lose votes from the Specials.

    Yeah, I meant "lose, relative to other parties". Everyone will gain votes, it's a question of how much.

    Basically, if Labour get more special votes than National, they pick up the 120th seat, which National loses. Because National are using a much higher quotient for their last MP (divided by 117) than Labour (85), Labour could take the MP off National even if they get less special votes.

    If National picked up 10,000 votes, Labour would only need to pick 9000 votes to get that seat. Greens need to pick up about 6000 votes to get it instead (it would be a lot less, but currently they're not particularly close).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • DPF,

    Maybe the term should be the "Presumptive Prime Minister". He isn't technically the Prime Minister designate as no one has designated him.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm against the thresholds and always have been. Their deliberate aim is to exclude representation. The guise is 'stability'. But that just seems to be code for 'reducing choice'. As if our representative democracy doesn't already exclude the population from choice most of the time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Alex,

    If there were no threshold then in theory perhaps the need for separate Maori seats would be reduced? Putting aside of course the current overhang which the Maori party benefit from.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Alex, in theory there is no need for the Maori seats at all since they should wield influence the way everyone else does it. But that is not how it is, for historic reasons, and it seems unlikely to change. The only counter argument to that is the Treaty of Waitangi which no other race in NZ has with our official sovereign. In that document Maori are accorded a special position, and there is a case that we are all still bound by it. I don't happen to agree with the case, but it's still a case, and not a weak one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Ben: the treaty is an agreement made by the crown (as represented by parliament) with Iwi and Hapu, not any one race (there being no such thing as race).

    And Māori are very poorly represented with MMP thanks to their typically low proportional lurnout, which was well recognised at the time MMP was introduced. There would be no Māori party overhang if Māori turned out at the same rate as Pakiha (of course, there would arguably have been no confiscation act or Māori party if they turned out as well).

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    There would be no Māori party overhang if Māori turned out at the same rate as [Pakeha]

    eh? I'm sorry, but I can't see any logical connection between turnout and overhang. Overhang results when a party gets members in only through winning electorates. And you can win an electorate with a plurality, you don't need a majority.
    Overhangs are most likely when there is a conjunction of a special interest party and special interest electorate(s).
    Dunne presumably represents a plurality of his electorate constituents. He could call himself the Ohariu Party, poll just enough support to win the Ohariu electorate... and that would result in an overhang. If another electorate had the same voting behaviour, and could be represented by a Dunne clone, you could get a multi-electorate overhang. So in principle it's not a something limited to the Maori party -- though it's made easier for them by the existence of the Maori electorates. The combination of Maori electorates and a Maori party is particularly likely to lead to overhang primarily because they both aim to serve the same sector of the population.

    But what's that got to do with turnout exactly? A counterexample:
    If more Maori registered on the Maori roll, there would be more Maori electorates -- and potentially, though not necessarily, a larger overhang.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1928 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    In an alternative universe, Labour could actually have won the last election by the following strategy:

    (1) Select 21 trusted Labour members with sufficient personal following to win their electorates regardless of party affiliation [yeah, I know; that's why we're in an alternative universe -- possibly a Twilight Zone];

    (2) Let them run as independents. Presto, each wins their own seat, without affecting the Labour party vote.

    (3) Labour campaigns chasing only the party vote, and (on last week's results) gets 43 members in off the list.

    (4) Labour forms a coalition including the Greens, the Prog, and the 21 independents.

    Meanwhile, keep all other election results exactly as they were.

    Results: A hangover-inducing overhang; a Parliament of 143 MPs; and a Labour-led coalition that can call on the support of 43+8+1+21=73 members, compared to National+ACT+UF=59+5+1=65 and Maori=5.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1928 posts Report Reply

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