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Speaker: An Open Letter To David Cunliffe

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  • Jack Harrison, in reply to mark taslov,

    The already have. They leave Auckland whenever they can to their holiday homes, a home just for holiday, that’s way cool.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Thanks DeepRed, that’s the one. The Japan Times ran the same article pretty much word for word.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    I'm only just settling down to pick through the election results, but it is clear Kiwi's understand MMP. The electorate winner in that respect is Ōhāriu, outdoing even Epsom, as at a minimum half the voters must have split their vote (the theoretical maximum for all electorates is mostly near 100% but is much more tricky to calculate as an upper bound).
    At the other end of the minimum spliters scale from Ōhāriu and Epsom (followed by Waiariki) we have Rodney and Manurewa (followed by Tauranga)

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to bmk,

    There’s a much simpler reason it doesn’t happen. National and Labour have long known they could do this scheme. But it would lead to a massively overhung parliament with neither party better off (since both doing it) and the public’s faith in the system would be completely eroded.

    I’m not sure that they’ve thought it through, really. Currently, National IS doing it in a small way. Their majority is currently hanging on the thread of the two representative seats they have in parties with negligible party vote cross interference. Without Seymour and Dunne (who have no counterbalance), National would be relying on the Maori Party. This is what I found so incredibly stupid about killing off Mana. It’s like Labour don’t have a tactical bone in their bodies.

    As for public faith in the system, is it really Labour’s job to just keep losing this way so as to maintain that? Perhaps faith should be eroded in the system, because the system we’re talking about serves us up a double dose of right wing dickheads every time so far. Basically, it’s like National gets two free cock punches every fight, with no comeback.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Just in case it's not clear what a cock punch is:

    "The blow that strikes to the core of a warrior's strength, against which there is no defence".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m not sure that they’ve thought it through, really.

    I remember reading David Farrar saying that the National Party had spent a lot of time considering it but always backed out for the reasons above (my memory may be faulty though). Labour would copy them, there would be a huge parliament. The public would be furious with both parties and Winston First would win a historic victory next time(I made up that last bit myself).

    And sure they are doing it to a very small extent at present - that's about as far as they can push it without Labour retaliating or public distaste overwhelming the gain. But I think they know they can't go any further and I think that's part of why they chose not to do a deal with Conservatives this time.

    I think in the long-run MMP needs to be fixed. No threshold. No overhang - if a party wins more electorate seats than they were entitled too then they lose whichever electorate seats they won by the smallest margins until they are reduced to their correct proportion.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to bmk,

    In the long run could be 20-30 years at the pace that electoral reform moves. And typically it only actually reforms at all in response to it clearly not working. What I'm reading in that reasoning is that National will only do it so long as it's just barely enough to stay ahead of Labour. Why they get to hold the pole position on that, I don't know. I guess it's some basic form of self-defeating self-righteousness on the part of the "Left". Or perhaps it's part of their anti nuclear policy :-)

    MMP should be fixed. But it won't be. It was deliberately fucked up in the first place. What they will do to "fix" it will be to get rid of coat-tailing, thereby securing the solid power of the top 2 parties, and keeping the Greens and NZF forever marginalized, and electorate reps will still be supported in tactical seats. It is actually much more advantageous to the top parties that very small parties can't form at all, but individuals can hold on. Because individuals are essentially completely powerless, like Peter Dunne, putty in their hands.

    Labour could easily do this. In fact, it might not even be hard to find people willing, since a secure electorate seat conditional on unwavering support is quite a sweet deal for someone who gets to have their own whole party all to themselves. Every election they get to negotiate what sweet job they have or they can withdraw support. They don't even have to formally endorse it. They can never be kicked out by an internal coup. Like National's coded dogwhistles in their sweetheart electorates, people will soon get what installing their guy for the overhang means.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I think in the long-run MMP needs to be fixed. No threshold. No overhang – if a party wins more electorate seats than they were entitled too then they lose whichever electorate seats they won by the smallest margins until they are reduced to their correct proportion.

    You can't do that to MMP, you'd have basically killed the mixed member component of it, which is pretty core. Electorate MPs make up over half our parliament, you can't unelect them because someone else in another electorate did better, that's screwed up democracy.

    You might as well just go straight to a party vote made up parliament and get rid of electorates entirely.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    You can't do that to MMP, you'd have basically killed the mixed member component of it, which is pretty core. Electorate MPs make up over half our parliament, you can't unelect them because someone else in another electorate did better, that's screwed up democracy.

    You might as well just go straight to a party vote made up parliament and get rid of electorates entirely.

    I understand entirely what you are saying. Just how else do you fix the inherent problem in MMP that almost by its design it can be gamed with parties deliberately creating an overhand and thus wrecking the proportionate basis of it?

    While what I proposed isn't ideal - the current situation isn't ideal either and if the major parties were to majorly game it in the manner Ben proposes then MMP ends up fundamentally broken.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to bmk,

    if the major parties were to majorly game it in the manner Ben proposes then MMP ends up fundamentally broken.

    Yes, and I suggest that because a major party is already gaming it, it is already quite broken.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Although I temper that by saying that it's far less broken than what we had before.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to bmk,

    if a party wins more electorate seats than they were entitled too

    If a party wins electorate seats then they are entitled to them. That's democracy for you.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Trevor Nicholls,

    If a party wins electorate seats then they are entitled to them. That's democracy for you.

    I do get what you are saying and I guess it's true in a way. However, if the purpose of MMP is to have a strictly proportionate parliament then overhang wrecks it. I guess it depends whether you think close enough is good enough and also your priorities whether local representation is more important that proportionality.

    I've always been a big fan of MMP but to be honest as I've got to know it better; I think it's fundamentally broken and asking to be gamed. I'm probably more now in favour of either a pure Proportional system or even a Single Transferrable Vote system. Or maybe even a Proportional vote system but broken into regions so each region still gets represented.

    Anyway MMP is working for now (just) but in the scenarios outlined above all trust in it could easily be destroyed by National running an electorate-only Country party and Labour running an electorate only Urban party. We could end up with a farcical situation.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Just how else do you fix the inherent problem in MMP that almost by its design it can be gamed with parties deliberately creating an overhand and thus wrecking the proportionate basis of it?

    MMP is currently less proportional via the 5% threshold to a much greater extent than it is due to overhang. That's been true numerous times.

    You could make MMP more proportional by reducing the threshold, which many people here are in favour of.

    TBH, I think the idea that any large party could split into an electorate party and a list party, and come through an election successfully preposterous. If the party didn't tear itself apart debating whether or not it should do it, the electorate would rip them to shreds at the ballot box. The current machinations that go on with Act and United Future are about a party not campaigning against an existing political party, not about constructing their own very similar political party to not campaign against.

    I don't see it as something that we need to protect MMP against.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    If you're really that terrified by overhang seats, you can always give everyone else compensatory top up seats to restore proportionality.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    You could make MMP more proportional by reducing the threshold, which many people here are in favour of.

    TBH, I think the idea that any large party could split into an electorate party and a list party, and come through an election successfully preposterous.

    I'm strongly in favour of reducing the threshold.

    I think it could be done. Imagine an Australian type scenario where they have the Liberal-National coalition. National here includes both groups of that party - they could create a Country party and they would win all the rural electorates if they told their supporters too vote Country MP and National candidate.

    Having said all that I think the main parties have enough of a long-term view to do such a thing - they would rightly fear the public backlash. So you're right in that I don't see it happening in the short-term.

    Still it does make me wonder about the integrity of the system.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to bmk,

    Yes, the system can be gamed. I guess that is the solitary advantage of FPP, it's hard to see how that could be gamed.

    I'd like to see the threshold disappear. I'd also suggest that for a party to appear on the party voting paper it has to field electorate candidates across the country (maybe not in every seat, but at the very least a majority of them). Some legal requirement that prevents a party campaigning against its own electoral candidate would be nice but I can't imagine how it could be enforceable.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Trevor Nicholls,

    hard to see how [FPP] could be gamed

    FPP was very easily gameable, on a grand scale, by gerrymandering: redrawing electorate boundaries to encompass regions in which you know your party has a narrow majority. Result: you win more than half the electorates, without needing half the total vote. (Meanwhile, opposing parties get their supporters ghettoised into a smaller number of very strongly held electorates.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    TBH, I think the idea that any large party could split into an electorate party and a list party, and come through an election successfully preposterous. I

    Obviously they would do it in a much more subtle way to start with, until people got used to the idea, as they have with ACT and UF, both parties whose leaders have been formers National MPs. They do need to pretend to be different. Probably more extreme in some way (Dunne is that lovely paradox, the extreme centrist). Best is for them not to be an actual party of more than one person apiece.

    In a way, it's actually what electorate representatives are meant to do. This business of them being party hacks was not how elected representatives were meant to act, it's just how they did act. The fact that they did act that way is what necessitated MMP in the first place - it basically acknowledged that parties were the shadow that had formed over representative government, and if we had to have the buggers then they could at least be closer in proportional size to their actual support.

    Personally, I think they're a fucked idea all around, but that's how power works - it concentrates into huddles of privilege.

    I'm not advocating that the parties do this more, btw. I'm just surprised that only National seems to have figured it out. I fully agree that it would be bad for democracy. It already is bad for democracy, the way it's already being done.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Trevor Nicholls,

    I guess that is the solitary advantage of FPP, it’s hard to see how that could be gamed.

    It's super easy to game. You only have to beat the opposition by a little bit everywhere and you can have a massive overwhelming landslide. Which is not theory, it's what happened, over and over.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to linger,

    gerrymandering

    Oops you're right. (Have you ever lived in America?)

    Fortunately that never really happened in this country but yes it could, with political appointments to the judiciary and electoral commission.

    Historically, despite occasional huge majorities for one side or the other, electoral boundaries in NZ have always been drawn by balanced committees, haven't they?

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to linger,

    Indeed as repeatedly happened in NZ.

    All electoral systems can be gained to some extent; some more than others. And as far as I can see MMP is what works best for us considering we seem to be wedded to the idea of having a local MP. I think the local MP isn't strictly necessary as if you used pure proportional representation you would be bound to have an MP in your region anyway, although the legislation would have to be clear that they had to assist you.

    I do think STV with sufficiently large wards would work as well.

    At present though I think MMP is working but the threshold urgently needs to be reduced (which solves the problem of coat-tailing as well).

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to BenWilson,

    Which is not theory, it's what happened, over and over

    I wouldn't call giving a majority party a majority of seats "gaming the system". Gaming the system requires a party receiving fewer total votes getting a governing majority. As far as I can recall NZ has only once had a government which received fewer votes than the main opposition party (the margin was tiny, and the opposition won the next election by a convincing margin).

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Trevor Nicholls,

    Historically, despite occasional huge majorities for one side or the other, electoral boundaries in NZ have always been drawn by balanced committees, haven't they?

    Boudaries have always suited National here. I don't know whether through deliberate gerrymandering or just the urban/rural split (I'd like to think the latter). In 1993 National got 35% while Labour got 34.6% and yet National got 5 more seats. The Alliance who were on Labour's left got 18%. On a MMP election - the left would have had a comfortable majority.

    In 1978 Labour got a higher vote count but 11 fewer seats! In 1981 Labour also won the vote but got 4 fewer seats.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to bmk,

    OK, well I have been misinformed. Ignore me :-)

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

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