This afternoon Parliament will be holding a First Reading debate on the Electoral Referendum Bill. This is the Bill that will enact the National Party’s election pledge to hold a referendum on whether we want to retain our current MMP electoral system.
The Greens will be supporting the Bill to Select Committee, despite concerns about the lack of spending caps for those campaigning in the referendum. Hopefully that issue will be addressed by the Select Committee.
So it is timely to recall how much of a perverse affront to democracy the First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system New Zealanders threw out in 1993 was.
The United Kingdom still has an FPP electoral system, and is in the middle of an election campaign at the moment. One recent poll put the Liberal Democrats on 33% of the vote, the Conservatives on 32%, and Labour on 26%. But translate that poll result into seats in the UK Parliament and we get this absurdity:
|Party||% Vote||Seats||% Seats|
|Others & NI||9||32||4.9|
The Liberal Democrats get only slightly more than half the seats Labour gets, despite being the highest polling party, and Labour gets the most seats despite trailing well behind in third place.
The same undemocratic FPP system here saw the National Party winning a majority of seats and forming governments without the need for a coalition partner in both 1978 and 1981, despite receiving fewer votes than the Labour Party in each of those elections.
Hat Tip: No Right Turn