Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: MMP Review - The Proposals

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  • Phil Lyth,

    The Commission has kicked for touch on the electorate MP/list MP ratio, saying that given current settings it is not going to be a problem before 2026. Back to you, Parliament, they said in effect.

    [Background: keeping a minimum of 16 South Island electorates over time increases the number of North Island seats as populations changes, increasing the total electorate seats and reducing the number of list seats available.]

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis,

    Here's the Commission's reasons for plumping for 4%:

    "In conclusion, therefore, the Commission’s sense is that 5% is too high and that 3% is the lowest end of an acceptable range. We suggest 4% is preferable. It reflects the Royal Commission’s original recommendation. It would compensate for abolition of the one electorate seat threshold. It is in line with comparable democracies such as Norway and Sweden. And it is in line with public opinion and the weight of submissions received by the Commission."

    It's the Goldilocks number! Not too high, not too low, and supported by just the right number of people!!

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    The Commission has kicked for touch on the electorate MP/list MP ratio, saying that given current settings it is not going to be a problem before 2026. Back to you, Parliament, they said in effect.

    That's because it can't be answered without knowing the Constitutional Review's answer on the Maori seats.

    but they have taken a great, steaming dump on Labour's plan to break the electoral system by altering the ratio (and give themselves more, and so more urban electorates)

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    I have to say I'm not entirely convinced by their reasoning on the threshold. A lot of assertion, no testing of empirical evidence of the effects of more smaller parties in our Parliament. And if you look at their graph, more submitters favoured a lower threshold than 4%. They had an opportunity to take a principled look at the options, and they blew it (and then recommended an anti-democratic move into the bargain).

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Presumably "removing the one electoral seat threshold" means "winning one electorate, but getting less than 4% of the total vote, gets you that electorate seat", rather than "winning one electorate, but getting less than 4% of the total vote, gets you nothing".

    But it still reduces proportionality. It would have been better to have the threshold for extra seats set lower, e.g. 1.5% -- if there must be a threshold at all.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1941 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I love this (p18)

    That some voters choose not to avail themselves of the information readily available to them in party lists does not alter the fact that list MPs are elected.

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

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    That some voters choose not to avail themselves of the information readily available to them in party lists does not alter the fact that list MPs are elected.

    Paraphrasing
    That some voters choose not to avail themselves of the history of Winston Peters does not alter the fact that voters still vote for him

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to linger,

    But it still reduces proportionality. It would have been better to have the threshold for extra seats set lower, e.g. 1.5% – if there must be a threshold at all.

    The Electoral Commission's proposals would have made the results of the 2011 election more proportional, not less.

    Same with 2008.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    But not 2005. There, the Gallgher Index would have doubled (Sadly they don't include results from 1996 - 2002 so we can get a full picture)

    Basically, at best we have a Parliament as representative as we have now. But we're looking at significantly worse in some cases, which have been shown to occur in our electoral environment. And on average, they admit we'll be getting a slightly less representative Parliament than we have at present.

    That doesn't sound like it is worth supporting to me.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    That's because it can't be answered without knowing the Constitutional Review's answer on the Maori seats.

    But in turn that becomes complicated because the terms of reference of that Review don't require a report until Sept 2013. That is far too late in the cycle for any changes for the 2014 election.

    The Minister's office did suggest that I could ask questions of the Review panel about how the several processes interface, via the panel's secretariat.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Translating the Electoral Commission's views on the threshhold into the real world, they think the Maori Party are ineffective representatives and that Jim Anderton was extremist, and that both should be denied a place in Parliament if they hadn't had the good luck to win electorate seats. You don't have to approve of either of those examples to recognise that this conclusion is a bit dubious.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Curran, in reply to linger,

    But it still reduces proportionality. It would have been better to have the threshold for extra seats set lower, e.g. 1.5% -- if there must be a threshold at all.

    i don't get how it reduces proportionality. Surely it increases it? Maybe not as much as setting the threshold lower, but still it's offers more proportionality than 5%.

    Since May 2011 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward, in reply to Ben Curran,

    i don't get how it reduces proportionality. Surely it increases it? Maybe not as much as setting the threshold lower, but still it's offers more proportionality than 5%.

    The 4% improves proportionality, but removing the electoral seat lifeboat (likely) reduces it - a party that wins 3.5% of the vote as well as an electoral seat currently gets its full 3.5% represented in Parliament. Under these recommendations it won't.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    then the overhang rule should be changed so that parties that earn less than the party vote threshold (whatever that is) don’t cause overhang.

    Have I misunderstood this change, or does this mean that the Maori Party, who have never received a single seat from list votes, will lose any electorate seats that are in excess of their party vote ?

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    Have I misunderstood this change, or does this mean that the Maori Party, who have never received a single seat from list votes, will lose any electorate seats that are in excess of their party vote ?

    You have misunderstood it. The Electoral Commisison is proposing that a) parties which win an electorate don't bring in extra list seats (unless thye also pass the threshold); and b) that Parliament be capped at 120 seats. The latter change abolishes overhang, by effectively taking it out of other parties' allocations. And it seems to have only a minor effect on overall proportionality.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Not really, I don't think it's a value judgment thing at all.

    Anderton got a ministerial role on the back of his microparty and electorate showing (even as the former tended to miniscule). If he'd stayed in Labour, he probably wouldn't have done. So those Wigram voters (not to mention the 20,000 JAPP party voters) could be seen as being super-served by the system.

    The Maori Party don't make any serious effort to seek list votes. While this is their right (and I don't think Pakeha and others have any standing to interfere with the disposition of the Maori seats) it does have a (slight) distorting effect.

    So does National's promotion of Dunne and ACT as 'support partners'. Maybe they'll continue do do this even for single-electorate MPs, but it's less of a rort. (If they (or Labour) scaled it up and had 30 'minor-party' candidates running for electorates, it'd become a huge rort and have to be suppressed, I suppose).

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

  • Ben Curran, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    Have I misunderstood this change, or does this mean that the Maori Party, who have never received a single seat from list votes, will lose any electorate seats that are in excess of their party vote ?

    As I understand it, no. It means that if there would be an overhang under today's system, the system that is used for calculating who gets the next list mp stops before reaching 120. So if we had a party with 1 more electorate mp than their party vote entitled them to, the Sainte-Laguë system which is currently used to calculate who gets what, would stop at the 119th mp rather than the 12th mp. I think.

    Gareth: that makes sense. on the other hand, the drop to 4% will increase proportionality and I've no easy way in my head of figuring out if the total of decrease and increase from the two aspects of change results in a net increase or net decrease. Still, reasonably happy with it all.

    Since May 2011 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    It's the Goldilocks number! Not too high, not too low, and supported by just the right number of people!!

    Goldilocks was still ejected from the house by a bear majority.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James Butler,

    gold

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    You have misunderstood it.

    Thanks for clearing that up, I/S.

    The Maori Party don’t make any serious effort to seek list votes. While this is their right (and I don’t think Pakeha and others have any standing to interfere with the disposition of the Maori seats) it does have a (slight) distorting effect.

    IMO they were actually campaigning pretty hard to get party votes, and I stood against Dr Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau. Sure, they didn’t get traction (during the campaign, I pointed out, repeatedly, that the Maori Party have never received an extra seat from their party votes), but that was not because of lack of trying.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    I do wish that they had taken objections to there being any threshold on board
    The threshold is anti democratic

    And despite being a South Islander I do wonder if a debate about the 16 seats for the south would be worthwhile especially as all forward population studies show a steady increase in the North Island (Auckland) growth
    The present system will mean that Parliament size will increase faster than the overall population growth which isn't such a bad thing except many people feel the place is to big already except wannbe MPs

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to James Butler,

    Goldilocks was still ejected from the house by a bear majority.

    Possibly the first time anyone, anywhere has made a genuinely funny joke about the issue of electoral reform. To you, sir, I bow in humble amazement.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    has to be worth some sort of prize, amiright

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    many people feel the place is to big

    I wonder if those people would rather that country was run by a CERA style board of 'highly-qualified people' with a handful of MPs to act as a rubber stamp.

    Operating Parliament, including buildings, salaries and expenses, costs a tiny, tiny fraction [edit: approx 0.2%] of public spending. Our parliament is actually quite small; Ministers need to be recruited from the governing parties, should have some level of experience (like at least a term as a backbencher) and an affinity for the department they govern. Delivering that would be a lot easier with a few more MPs.

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

  • tussock,

    Reducing the party vote threshold to 4%

    What a gigantic waste of time. Way to piss on the opportunity for us to have a representative democracy. Dear Sir or Madam, it's not up to you to decide who's worthy of being elected to parliament, it's up to the FUCKING VOTERS. If people don't want little parties to represent them in parliament they won't fucking well vote for them, eh.

    Removing the one electorate seat threshold ("the single biggest factor in public dissatisfaction with MMP at present")

    It's not about satisfying the bloody majority, it's about representing the desires of the nation in Parliament. All of us, even the child-molesting Christians and dope-addled pot-heads. Seriously, that's who we're keeping out, the ALCP and the religous flavour of the month.

    Why are those people not allowed representation?

    And they wonder why people don't vote. Could it be because their vote wouldn't count anyway? Maybe? Do you think? Hmm? Perhaps? Obvious, much?

    You know everyone who voted for Colin Craig to stop National selling assets guaranteed that National would be able to sell assets. Nice of the electoral system to decide that for them. It's not like democracy really matters or anything.


    And if bloody Winston Peters doesn't want to be in Parliament with less than 5% of the vote he can put himself at #6 on their list. Problem solved. Dick.

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

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