Blog in haste, repent at leisure.
Yes, Thu 2 April.
Moved from other thread, in which Phil Lyth originally wrote...
My inner purist thinks the Electoral Act should be amended to prohibit an MP standing in a by-election; my inner pragmatist tells me this is unlikely to happen.
Also, I think that would be wrong.
There are a number of MPs who came in on the list, but had also ran unsuccessfully for an electorate seat. If a by-election was held in their electorate, it's entirely fair and reasonable that they should want to run again to represent that electorate. Also, for the local electorate committee to have to try to find some other candidate who is less known and possibly less suitable because, y'know, they weren't nominated at the last election, also seems unfair.
The point of electorate seats is that each electorate gets to have someone in parliament who is in their corner, and that they get to choose who that person will be. To say "No, you can't have this person represent you because, well, because their party thinks they're useful" is perverse.
The other side of the coin is that if a list MP associates themselves strongly with a particular electorate, as many do, but can't run for that electorate in a by-election, so someone else from their party gets the nod and wins it instead, that electorate gets to have not just two MPs (which is common enough), but two MPs from the same party, which is really less useful. List MPs who associate themselves with an electorate choose one where the electorate MP is from a different party, which means that people in that electorate can go and talk to the MP who they think best represents them. There's no point in doubling up.
Also, what happens at the next election? Who gets to run in that electorate? The list MP who ran at the last election, or the encumbent who won the by-election? It's all unnecessarily messy, and ultimately I don't think it would serve democracy in any meaningful way.
There may be a better way to resolve conflicts between by-election results and election results in parliamentary seat distribution, but preventing sitting MPs from running in by-elections is not it.
surely if a list mp cant stand in a by-election they should also be "banned" from standing in a seat at the general election and being on the list ? Otherwise we are creating a strange demarcation as by-elections are just a way of replacing departed MPs ...
Well, that would certainly be logical if you thought list MPs not standing in by-elections was a good idea. But as far as democracy goes, I don’t think it would be good.
Let’s take the example of the Greens. They have no electorate MPs, but 14 list MPs. They’ve only ever had an electorate MP once (Jeanette Fitzsimmons in Coromandel in 1999). Running for an electorate is hard work, but does a lot to help raise the profile of the party, including for voters outside the electorate.
If list candidates couldn’t run for electorates, the Greens would have to either run fewer electorate candidates, or have all their electorate candidates running solely for the purpose of profile raising, in the knowledge that they were highly unlikely to be able to represent anyone – even their local electorate – after the election; while the list candidates would breeze around the country doing, what, general vote-raising, without being grounded in any particular electorate?
Now you could argue that that already happens for many of their electorate candidates, who campaign for the good of the party as a whole. But to disallow their strongest representatives, the ones who were top of their list, from running in an electorate, would be to make the system much more one of workers and queens, and I don’t think anyone would appreciate that much, voters included.
Then there are gambles like the one ACT has lost the last two elections, where a party puts up lower-ranked candidates in electorates, assuming they’ll get their leader in via the list, only to get fewer votes than anticipated and thus not have any seats other than the electorate seat. If Jamie Whyte had run for Epsom instead of David Seymour, and (under your proposed rule) instead of on their list, and the party had made 4% but lost Epsom, the Party would have 5 MPs in parliament, but none of them the leader – which is probably not what people giving ACT their party vote would have been hoping for. Having David Seymour instead of, rather than as well as, Jamie Whyte, is probably not what they were hoping for either – but without the electorate they wouldn’t be in parliament at all, so having David rather than Jamie seems more reasonable than if they’d made the 4% threshold but couldn’t have their leader because he’d run for the electorate instead.
It's not the multiple candidacies that's the problem but the unclear law about how to handle them, no? Just require that if an MP is ever returned for two seats indicate within a fortnight which seat they'll sit for, and if they don't they vacate both. Assuming that the MP has been returned for an electorate at a by-election, then they will surely sit for that electorate, and then you get someone in on the list.
..I don't necessarily disagree...I just think it would be odd to have a law that stopped list MPs standing in bye-elections but not general elections its either one or the other (for me )...