NZ Green Party
Do we really want to go back to FPP?

The recent British election has clearly demonstrated what a deeply flawed and undemocratic system FPP is.

The Labour Party got 6% more of the vote than the Liberal Democrat Party but they got over 400% more seats- seem fair to you?

MMP is a much fairer system as pretty much everyone’s vote counts and so they have someone in Parliament who represents them (the obvious exception being votes for a party that doesn’t reach the 5% threshold. This counted out NZ First in the 2008 election, and if Britain had a similar system it would have counted out the BNP who only got 1.9%of the vote – not that I’m suggesting there are parallels between those parties :)

As you all know by now, there is a MMP referendum coming in 2011 and while the process is generally fair. There is a glaring omission in the lack of campaign spending caps as this means the pro-FPP groups will be able to spend as much as they want trying to buy a result.

 The MMP referendum Bill is currently before Select Committee – if you would like to make a submission on it, have a look at our guide.

 If you would like to be more involved more in the fight to save democracy, check out the Campaign for MMP website.

59 thoughts on “Do we really want to go back to FPP?

  1. I agree with you completely. MMP is a much fairer system.

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  2. This counted out NZ First in the 2008 election, and if Britain had a similar system it would have counted out the BNP who only got 1.9%of the vote – not that I’m suggesting there are parallels between those parties

    Naughty frog. Is jh still in moderation?

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  3. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the talks , my bets is still on cameron as he’s blatantly offered the sought after referendum.

    I don’t understand why a simple MMP system over there could work, you keep all of the current seats and constituencies – the big concern for anti proportional voting , and add an extra 200 or so seats allocated purely on Party vote counts, What’s so bad about that? the Lib Dems would finally have a say by that means and smaller parties like the UKIP would actually be able to get a seat or two, I don’t like thresholds , I prefer proper proportion if that’s the method and with the system they should keep the two types of seats completely separated so there is no losing as a electorate member but coming in on a party mandated list. AV doesn’t look like that flash a system to me really but then again we are NZers not Brits :D

    Cameron will be PM, Clegg might be a secretary of state (my bet is innovation, skills and universities with a couple of ministers for a couple of other lib dems in the Lords), there will probably be elections in a couple of years anyway to consolidate power

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  4. The problem with that approach is it wouldn’t be fair or proportional. It would still be a system deeply biased towards labour and the tories as 650 of the seats would be FPP.

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  5. as are 50% of the seats in NZ…and even then not really proprtional at all, our own system needs a good overhaul, considering Wisnton loses with 4% with Rodney wins + 4 others with 3.6%

    You will have a bias in system regardless, back in 1999 I think it was Ms Fitzsimmons ran for the greens in the Coromnandel and won but before and after that single term it was a National Stronghold seat

    Looking at the Euro Elections it is clear that the public would distinguish these seats from the tory/lab/lib seats and vote in our , more unique parties like the greens, the UKIP and yes unfortunately the BNP

    looking at Britain I see the Labour Lib issue as one similar to Labour and Alliance/new Labour here in NZ back when MMP was first being floated, there were times before MMP was decided , that the polls showed Alliance above labour and of course then only got 2 seats at best, then within 10 years Alliance turned into the Greens (an ex cadet branch) and Jim practically. no other will ever get through in the UK as the leading political group, it just won’t happen , this measure I argue would dilute the control the 2 current parties have and allow other voices to actually come out, I mean….1green MP out of 650…thats not going to do much politically until there are seats where people can feel more free in voting about the Nationa’s issues and not just the issues within their community

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  6. MMP is proportional because the party vote determines the amount of seats – even if the electorate seats are determined on FPP they do not skew the overall proportion of seats as your proposal would.

    agree they need to look at the threshold issues, and great that a review of MMP is planned to look at these issues if we vote to retain it (which hopefully we will!)

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  7. Idiot/Savant has a good post on this issue here.

    AV is essentially the non-proportional system used for the Australian House of Representatives. AVplus is similar to the Supplementary Member proposal that will be an option in our referendum. Neither of them go close to the number of seats each party gets reflecting the number of votes it gets.

    STV is a proportional system, but the reason it would be difficult here is that it would require huge electorates, particularly in the South Island, because of New Zealand’s relatively low population. It would work well in the UK.

    Interestingly, the reason the Lib-Dems have decided to open negotiations with Labour and the various Nationalist parties in the UK appears to be primarily that the Tories won’t offer anything better in terms of proportionality than a referendum between FPP and AV, and the Lib-Dems want a fully proportional system.

    Will be interesting to see if the Tories come up with a better offer..

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  8. Not if it means they get one (possibly abbreviated) term in Government and the referendum installs a proportional system. The Tories have few potential allies apart from the racist BNP and Ulster Unionists.

    What the Tories fear is a permanent Lab-Lib coalition, with the party of the toffs being locked out of power forever.

    Cameron will be waking up about now, and his morning turd will be a brick or two.

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  9. @greenfly

    Actually, I’d say that’s Labour right now.

    But… Cameron Certainly will be telling his Backbench colleagues that they have to accept some key Lib Dem policies to win

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  10. Problem is, stephensmikm, that some of the ones who have a problem with it are not on the back bench but are very influential. Like Michael Howard and Iain Duncan-Smith – both former Tory Leaders during their 13 year exile in Opposition, and both ultra-rightists who have more in common with the BNP than with a consensus that Cameron may want to achieve with the Lib-Dems.

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  11. well I personally think it may come down to how the 1922 committee accepts any deal with the Lib Dems and of course how Alan B’stard sways the vote :P

    I feel sorry for George Galloway at the outcome of this election, his electorate was torn up and effectively made champagne Labour by having half his old constituency and half of a rather right wing zone
    Didn’t usually agree with him but damn could he argue with a sky news presenter :D

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  12. “What’s so bad about that?”

    Stephensmikm, don’t forget that the House of Commons is only designed to seat a little over 400 MPs as it is; I doubt that the British equivalent of health and safety would be terribly keen on trying to cram over 800 MPs into the House of Commons chamber.

    In terms of who will be government in Britain, I would guess that the Tories have probably got it – Labour + Lib Dem does not make a majority, and it would make another election in either this year or early next year inevitable; an election that will probably see the Lib Dems punished.

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  13. Libs know they’ll get a better run with Labour on proportional voting, so would prefer that. Tories know it too and that’s a bigger threat to them, so will want to control the process themselves and then try to pervert it later. So they should be putting a very strong offer to the Libs, and because LibLab is not a majority, Clegg will need to be very certain that the coalition they scrape together will last until the referendum before he tells the Tories no. So LibLab more likely, but not by much.

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  14. Yeah I thought about the cramping…but how many MPS sit every day anyway, if the House of Lord before 1999 could deal with having every peer who rocked up then the house should be okay

    Valis, The Lab Lib govt wouldn’t last long enough, at some point a key supply Bill will be halted and the government will topple- also the people won’t have a say again over their choice of PM

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  15. Problem is, Valis, that electorally the SNP and Plaid Cymru, who would need to be drawn into a coalition for stability, have little to gain electorally as regionally based parties from a proportional electoral system.

    But they both hate the Tories – the memory of Thatcher will live on for generations yet – so it could be a go.

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  16. I don’t think you need to worry Frog, Kiwis like MMP. I’d say a vote will endorse it by a mighty margin. I do think some minor tinkering under the hood might be in order though.

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  17. Sam ‘Minor tinkering under the hood.’? What do you mean by that? If there are any changes then it should be in the open.
    Especially with regards to our electoral system!

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  18. Certainly possible, stephensmikm, but your certainty is overstated and ignores the self interest of MPs who want to stay in power above all else.

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  19. Valis, they will anyway under proportional voting just with the means of having no electorate to be responsible too

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  20. I was referring to your comment that a LibLab coalition wouldn’t last long enough to bring in a proportional system.

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  21. From what I actually heard out of Mr. Shirtcliffe’s mouth recently democracy is all about doing deals.. To such a fellow one can guess democracy thus the servant of business..

    For myself, democratic attainment is about governing and governance. And no way am I splitting hairs for governance is much wider (and likely deeper) than business deals and dealings.

    What I’d like to hear most in the debate/s is whether – alternatively how? — democracy delivers my hoped for attainment/s.

    Are they possible and/or more probable from better representation? Can groupthink arise and when it does so kill off its democratic base..?

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  22. there is a difference I suppose between wanting to stay in power and remaining an MP of course, In the UK, the two can go hand in hand in terms of power over the political parties

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  23. Samiam,

    Maybe some minor tinkering under the hood would be to lower the party vote threshold to 1/120 instead of 5%? It seems to me that if minor parties poll 2 or 3% they should be allowed a little bit of representation, no matter how distasteful their policies are.

    The 5% threshold was implemented in Germany to try and reduce the number of parties and prevent parliamentary fragmentation, and also to prevent small extremist groups getting into parliament (see http://electionresources.org/de/ )

    I think we have to face up to the fact that small extremist groups will always exist in society. Giving them a say (albeit small) is probably a better way to moderate them than by excluding them altogether.

    Another way to look at the 5% threshold is to say that a party which gets 100 000 votes (give or take) will not get any representation unless they win an electorate seat. 100 000 people is a lot of people to ignore; surely giving them 3 or 4 representatives (or whatever it works out as) cannot cause too much harm, and potentially do some good?

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  24. Minor tinkering, as the other sam said, a re-think on the threshold %.
    Also, Waka-jumping by party vote MP’s needs some consideration.
    Race based seats. Do we need them?
    All to be done in public, of course, Drak, it is OUR democracy after all!

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  25. Do I like MMP ? “YES”..
    obviously those who think a cut-throat two-party system is more representive are entitled to their opinions.. Im hoping that their ranks have been banished to the dustbin of history !

    Kia-ora

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  26. There probably isn’t a fair system when only part of the elected representatives form the government that runs the country. How come parties that got 2-7% of the vote can have a say in government when a party that got 34% has no say in government? Over a third of the voters are not represented in government here (though they do have representation in parliament, of course). In Britain, it’s usually much worse – I think almost two thirds of the voters had no representation in their last government.

    I can see only a few really democratic systems, including:

    An FPP system without parties, with the prime minister being elected from the elected representatives and able to appoint posts from the other elected representatives.

    A proportial system where all parties are represented in government, in proportion to their votes.

    Devolved government, where most important decisions are made locally, with a national government being elected by the local governments, with very limited powers (if it is needed at all). A sustainable society is likely to be highly localised anyway, so something along these lines is probably the best.

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  27. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12118

    The Liberal Democrats have been criticised by Green Party politicians and activists for the terms on which they have agreed a coalition deal with the Conservative Party.

    The Green Party leader Caroline Lucas described the Liberal Democrats as “not the party of change, but the party of changing their mind”. Lucas, who last week became the first Green MP in Britain, made the comments shortly before the LibDems entered a coalition government yesterday evening (11 May).

    She insisted that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg should hold out for a referendum on proportional representation. But it has now been confirmed that the deal between the Tories and LibDems will limit electoral reform to a referendum on Alternative Vote, a variation on the current non-proportional system.

    Lucas’ warning of the “LibDems’ tendency to backtrack on promises” was echoed by Green and other left-wing activists following the news of the coalition last night. Darren Johnson, one of the Green members of the London Assembly, used Twitter to encourage disgruntled LibDem members to join the Green Party.

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  28. One thing people don’t like about MMP is the way minor parties (and their rather colourful MP’s) act as penny weights. MMP or FPP aside we need a better form of decision making. Anyone who has done 101 anything must realise that the rhetoric we hear in parliament isn’t helpful but MP’s get away with it (in the main).
    I present this speech as an example:
    http://www.greens.org.nz/speeches/more-sophisticated-era-under-te-tiriti-o-waitangi
    .
    Some may call that a well argued case but I beg to differ.

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  29. STV is a proportional system, but the reason it would be difficult here is that it would require huge electorates, particularly in the South Island, because of New Zealand’s relatively low population. It would work well in the UK.

    STV is not a proportional system unless all electors vote “at large” among all available candidates, and I have never heard of a national assembly being elected that way. STV is only proportional within each multi-winner contest. Splitting the country into several regional multi-winner contests is the same disproportionality as FPP on a smaller scale.

    There probably isn’t a fair system when only part of the elected representatives form the government that runs the country. How come parties that got 2-7% of the vote can have a say in government when a party that got 34% has no say in government?

    You’re assuming that any vote is compatible with any other vote, and there isn’t a threshold at which parties differ so much in policy and ideology that they can’t form a government together.

    You’re also confusing having a mandate with the broader concept of democratic values. One has a mandate to govern when one has more than 50% of the vote among a coalition. A bigger mandate is certainly better, but you don’t NEED more than the 50% + 1 mandate in order to govern.

    Democracy is bigger than that. Democracy is about consultation, respecting human rights, transparency, fighting corruption, and the separation of legal power into the judiciary, legislative, and executive branches.

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  30. @Ari 7:50 AM

    Okay, technically you are correct, but the degree of proportionality in an STV electoral system increases with an increased number of MPs being elected by each electorate.

    I think you would find that if the UK had, say, 100 electorates each electing 7 MPs under STV, it would be highly proportional. However, parties that achieved a low percentage of the vote across the country still would not get representation unless their support was concentrated in certain electorates. In that respect, it is similar to MMP with a threshold – not entirely proportional, but far more proportional than AV, which is essentially STV with single MP electorates.

    I’m not confusing a mandate with broader democratic values – I entirely agree with your last paragraph. My comment related specifically to electoral systems, rather than political systems as a whole.

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  31. Yes, STV’s disproportionality shrinks as its electorates grow and merge. It is the best of the disproportionate systems. But unlike MMP, proportionality is the exception, not the rule. MMP is the system where saying it’s disproportionate is looking at atypical cases or fudged implementation. :) In all but the smallest parliaments, MMP with a threshold should whack STV in how proportionate the results end up. Long-run, I’d like to switch to a strictly proportional system, but that needs to happen after Maori are effectively represented without Maori seats.

    Oh, and I was quoting someone else in the second quote- I trust you not to confuse such things! :)

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  32. I said:

    Libs know they’ll get a better run with Labour on proportional voting, so would prefer that. Tories know it too and that’s a bigger threat to them, so will want to control the process themselves and then try to pervert it later. So they should be putting a very strong offer to the Libs, and because LibLab is not a majority, Clegg will need to be very certain that the coalition they scrape together will last until the referendum before he tells the Tories no. So LibLab more likely, but not by much.

    OR Clegg could sell out for the baubles of office. Should have seen that possibility coming.

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  33. As I passed through Kiwiblog this morning I found that the majority there were supporting FPP in the pole by a considerable margin as I put in mine for MMP. I remember a few decades ago when 20<22% of New Zeland voters voted for a party which gained just two seats. Never again if I can help it in any way.
    Another thing about the size of 'electorates'. A few years back the 'in' thing was to split cities into small pockets each with one or two seats. The idea was that poor potential candidates would have a better chance of getting their message over to a smaller number of electors .. sounded good to me then. What I didn't appreciate that even assuming I got my choosen councillor in they were just one of many. The advantage of MMP is that if you believe in something your list vote affects the whole of the council or parliament in its small way.
    I looked up AV and from wikipedia it seems like FPP in drag. Not proportional in any way.

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  34. Ari, I’m not confusing anything. I’m not using dictionary definitions. Even if a single party got more than 50% of the vote (arbirtrary coalitions getting 50% doesn’t seem like a mandate to me) that would still leave up to 49% of the electorate (or, at least, the voters) without any representation in government. You seem to think that parties are so different that it would be impossible for some groupings to work together. I doubt that but that isn’t the point. We’re seeking a fairer more democratic system, are we not? Let’s work out the problems rather than just say such and such a system wouldn’t work given the values we have today.

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  35. Not sure about the baubles of office, Valis. Some of this actually looks rather good:

    • The establishment of a smart grid and the roll-out of smart meters;

    • The full establishment of feed-in tariff systems in electricity – as well as the maintenance of banded ROCs;

    • Measures to promote a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion;

    • The creation of a green investment bank;

    The provision of home energy improvement paid for by the savings from lower energy bills;

    • Retention of energy performance certificates while scrapping HIPs;

    • Measures to encourage marine energy;

    • The establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the emissions performance standard;

    • The establishment of a high-speed rail network;

    • The cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow;

    • The refusal of additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted;

    • The replacement of the air passenger duty with a per-flight duty;

    • The provision of a floor price for carbon, as well as efforts to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits;

    • Measures to make the import or possession of illegal timber a criminal offence;

    • Measures to promote green spaces and wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity;

    • Mandating a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles;

    • Continuation of the present government’s proposals for public sector investment in CCS technology for four coal-fired power stations; and a specific commitment to reduce central government carbon emissions by 10% within 12 months.

    We are agreed that we would seek to increase the target for energy from renewable sources, subject to the advice of the climate change committee.

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  36. Hope you’re right, toad. The policy concessions look good, but seems short term to trade real electoral reform for.

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  37. Ari, I’m not confusing anything. I’m not using dictionary definitions. Even if a single party got more than 50% of the vote (arbirtrary coalitions getting 50% doesn’t seem like a mandate to me) that would still leave up to 49% of the electorate (or, at least, the voters) without any representation in government. You seem to think that parties are so different that it would be impossible for some groupings to work together. I doubt that but that isn’t the point. We’re seeking a fairer more democratic system, are we not? Let’s work out the problems rather than just say such and such a system wouldn’t work given the values we have today.

    I’m not asking for you to use a dictionary. I’m saying that consensus on some issues is impossible because there are divisions between the electorate on what people want. Some people think we should focus on reducing inequality in order to make everyone better off, while others think that rewarding the successful increases the overall good of society. How do those two factions co-operate in government?

    I’d LOVE to make decisions that 90% of people could support on everything. That would be an inspirational and truly populist government. But to do that you’d have to ignore some really important issues. It is impossible to reach a broad consensus on economic policy- the ideological cleavage is simply too large, even though there’s good evidence on which policies bring what benefits. This is the reason why grand coalitions so often fail: Economic policy is at the heart of what a government does, and the two largest parties usually take opposing views on economic policy.

    Now, on social issues, it’s possible to reach a broad consensus, depending on the political landscape. I think it’s always worthwhile to look for areas where you can pull in opposition or independent support. But that’s really, REALLY unrelated to how one forms a government in a Westminster democracy.

    FYI: A system where one tries to achieve the largest mandate possible in making a decision is known as a consensus system. Westminster democracies don’t really encourage that sort of decision-making.

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  38. It is my belief that the process of public education in the early 90s was not well done and while it could be argued that a positive result was achieved (we dumped FPP and introduced MMP) the wrong form of proportional representation was chosen because most of ‘we public’ were not sufficiently ‘educated’ in the benefits (or intricasies) of STV.

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  39. If the ideological divide is so great between parties then you end up with a see-sawing between those ideologies, as the government swings between the main protagonists. Perhaps that’s an indication that such ideologies are not crucial to society. It may be possible to set up a rapid response voting system whereby the electorate can be consulted on issues that can’t get a consensus in government, because the ideological gap is too wide. If such a referendum system can be made efficient, this might be the best way to proceed. After all, even if I vote for a party, that doesn’t imply (and shouldn’t be inferred) that I support all policies of a party. One of the things that irk me about politicians (and there are a lot of such things) is the claim, from the leading party, that they have a mandate for every policy set out in their manifesto. That’s garbage, and a system that could reign in policies that wouldn’t have gotten a mandate if it was the only policy would be great.

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  40. Valis, I would probably suggest that the Lib Dems were pushed into a corner, and given their position (it was basically either go with the Tories or get punished at an election that would have been held either late this year or early next year), they haven’t done too badly.

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  41. It is my belief that the process of public education in the early 90s was not well done and while it could be argued that a positive result was achieved (we dumped FPP and introduced MMP) the wrong form of proportional representation was chosen because most of ‘we public’ were not sufficiently ‘educated’ in the benefits (or intricasies) of STV.

    As above, STV is only a proportional system in elections where all the seat-winners compete in a single contest. Having people sort priority lists for hundreds or even thousands of candidates is simply impractical, so it cannot be used for all of parliament at once, and thus in national-level elections, STV is not a proportional system. STV is great for electing local councils or regional boards, however.

    If the ideological divide is so great between parties then you end up with a see-sawing between those ideologies, as the government swings between the main protagonists. Perhaps that’s an indication that such ideologies are not crucial to society.

    I think it’s more complicated than that. I think a lot of people do care about these issues, but aren’t very good at knowing what it is they want, so they judge performance by how the economy is doing- even though a good government can slowly lift you out of a bad economy, and a bad one can trash the economy while it’s still roaring along on inertia.

    Beyond that, recent surveys show that New Zealanders currently support Labour’s vision of the New Zealand economy, but National won handily in the election. Why? Well, because people perceived the government as corrupt, arrogant and out of touch, and wanted a new government. Given that the then-opposition promised to keep those economic policies in place, it seemed safe to vote for a change of the guard and see if it improved things.

    People vote based on far more than the economy, but the economy is the basis for all government policy. You can’t HAVE social policy without economic policy, because it needs to be funded.

    It may be possible to set up a rapid response voting system whereby the electorate can be consulted on issues that can’t get a consensus in government, because the ideological gap is too wide. If such a referendum system can be made efficient, this might be the best way to proceed.

    Direct democracy is a terrible way to govern because the electorate just doesn’t have the time or motivation to properly understand the issues. We have representative government in order that the electorate isn’t burned out with constant referendums and political education campaigns.

    After all, even if I vote for a party, that doesn’t imply (and shouldn’t be inferred) that I support all policies of a party. One of the things that irk me about politicians (and there are a lot of such things) is the claim, from the leading party, that they have a mandate for every policy set out in their manifesto. That’s garbage, and a system that could reign in policies that wouldn’t have gotten a mandate if it was the only policy would be great.

    Of course it doesn’t. It implies that you support them, and presumably their policies, the most of the available parties. This is what referenda should really be for: when a party implements a vastly unpopular and unjustified policy.

    Parties don’t get mandates at all. Governments get mandates- essentially it’s a measure at how good your claim to govern is. Support for individual policies should be taken separate from support for the government as a whole, although there’s usually some correlation on central policy planks. :)

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  42. Given that no party would go to the polls on a policy of a sustainable society, the point is moot, anyway. Whatever government we get will still drive for economic growth – even a lot of Green policy is tragetted that way. Growth destroys the planet so there is no real future in any system that elects planet killing politicians to power.

    However, if one just wants to discuss a truly representative democratic system, we certainly don’t have one now. The notion that the MPs we elect, either directly or via party lists, have complete knowledge on all issues of interest to the country, is preposterous. More consultation of the public on issues that can’t be agreed by an all party government, seems a reasonable half measure. Not every single piece of legislation, just the highly controversial ones. We’ve seen the people’s voice ignored so much recently and seen democracy diluted in the new Auckland Supercity, that it’s abundantly clear that our current MMP system isn’t working. It needs to be replaced or improved, if democracy is the primary aim.

    If sustainability is the primary aim, any system will do since no politician appears to want sustainability and none would seek the approval of the electorate on that ticket.

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  43. We’ve seen the people’s voice ignored so much recently and seen democracy diluted in the new Auckland Supercity, that it’s abundantly clear that our current MMP system isn’t working. It needs to be replaced or improved, if democracy is the primary aim.

    Only a consensus system will prevent things like the supercity from happening. The only way to prevent people stuffing policy like that down your throat in a majoritarian system is to make the policy so inconvenient it can’t be carried out. I can think of governments who would have at the least significantly retooled their plans in similar situations.

    You’re wrong that electoral systems don’t matter to sustainability, though. Disproportionate systems make it much harder to elect politicians that truly support sustainability. MMP hasn’t given us a majority that do, but it’s made the few of them that exist much more significant to the way politics is carried out in New Zealand, and a more proportional system, for instance one that lowers the threshold or removes electorate disproportionality, could easily make those voices louder. :)

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  44. My point was that no politician, that I’m aware of, supports a truly sustainable New Zealand. Some use phrases like “more sustainable” but none supports policies that would move us to a truly sustainable society. The Greens are far better than the others, but an unsustainable society can’t be sustained, even if some may last more than others. Consequently, the electoral system is irrelevant to sustainability. If no party supports policies that will get us there, then there are no parties to vote for, in order to get us there, and so any system will do.

    It’s a conundrum, though. Even if there were political parties that would implement sustainable policies, if in government, they would never get in, as almost no-one in the electorate would vote for a party that touts zero growth, a reduction in consumption of non-renewable resources to zero, and so on.

    However, it’s interesting to postulate a fair democratic system, nonetheless. MMP doesn’t provide truly representative governments. Maybe that’s a dream even if the unsustainable were sustainable, but that’s no reason to throw out, here, alternatives that might provide truly representative governments.

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  45. @Tony – the greens do support policies that will move us to a totally sustainable future, just not necessarily all the policies that are required. Looking at the support or lack of support for such policies, the greens support more of these policies than the other parties, with Act opposing nearly all of the required policies and National being not very much better.

    Trevor.

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  46. A more sustainable version of politics/policies might be achieved by a 5 year parliamentary term. As it stands each government only really gets one full year without an election either just over their shoulder, or just up ahead. Hardly an environment conducive to strategic planning for anything other than themselves/electioneering.
    Anyway Kiwis tend to vote each government in for two, or three terms before the pendulum swings from coke to pepsi, so even a six year term is closer to the norm than the current ‘trigger-happy’ three year circus.

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  47. No Samiam,

    I want to be able to vote out the bastards more often, not less often. I think this is how you’ll find a large proportion of people think; there needs to be the possibility of electoral punishment to keep the MPs in line. As it is they are unscrupulous, deceptive liars; just think how much worse they’ll be if they have a longer term.

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  48. @Trevor: I realise that the Greens do support some policies that would be needed for a truly sustainable future but that doesn’t help if their other policies are counter to a sustainable future.

    @amiuela: quite right. An unpopular government will hang on to the bitter end, in the hope of turning things around before they have to go to the people. One problem with all systems is that those who put themselves forward to lead this country should be the last people who actually do. Look at John Key; he had a childhood dream to be prime minister and it looks like that’s what he was focused on – not actually helping the country, but helping himself.

    To me, the more you can consult the people (and take note of what they say), the closer you get to true democracy. Also, devolving decisions closer to the people affected would help – perhaps local government should be higher up the responsibility ladder than national government.

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  49. @Tony – which Green Party policies are counter to a sustainable future?

    Trevor.

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  50. their (non)-promotion/adoption of the vegan lifestyle..?

    as the most ‘sustainable’…?

    wanna reply to those two..for starters..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  51. Agriculture:

    Educate overseas consumers of our products …
    Support of biofuel production.
    Increase NZ self-sufficiency in basic foodstuffs [not become self-sufficient].
    Limit [not stop] urban sprawl.

    Climate Change:

    Our emissions must decrease [not be eliminated]
    Allow burning of fossil fuels [by buying emissions units]
    Allow import of fossil fuels
    Exempt sectors whose emissions are below 1990 levels

    Economy:

    Supports global trade.
    No mention of zero economic growth.

    Energy:

    No mention of a 100% renewables target or of an upper limit on all energy.

    Transport:

    A “greater emphasis on sustainable transport systems” [not a ban on unsustainable transport systems].
    Air travel is envisaged to continue.

    Sustainable Business:

    Wishy washy words about sustainability but spells nothing out. Not all businesses can be sustainable, but that isn’t mentioned. Sustainable implies not growing, but this is never spelled out. It even talks about globally recognized successful NZ businesses, and explicit support for small businesses that wish to grow.

    Of course, much of the policy is laudable and may make a transition to sustainability easier but until the Greens recognize that growth is not sustainable and that support of any unsustainable practice will not get us to sustainability, then I can’t say whether they truly support a sustainable New Zealand, or understand what sustainability entails.

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  52. Why does New Zealand need to become self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs? We should be self-sufficient in most basic foodstuffs but there is nothing unsustainable about trading with neighbours who are better placed to grow certain foods.

    Trevor.

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  53. Trevor

    Carry forward the current trends.

    The failure of the global community to address AGW leads to what?

    What ultimate result can we expect… some 300 years from now… based on what we know.

    .
    .
    .

    Now take that answer and apply it to our ability to raise our own basic foodstuffs, our ability to trade with anyone anywhere at all, and their ability to continue to produce any surplus to trade with us.

    However, I would not require us to profitably produce everything now.

    That would be impossible and extremely expensive. I would however, hope to prepare us by having the materials, seeds, research/pilot plots growing the essentials, and all manner of other industrial production “seed” infrastructure (ie Computer chips, Disks, Displays, Diesel Engines, Electric Motors, Electric Generators, Bearings, Gears ).

    Such resources as needed to retain the knowledge and ability to be more self-sufficient than the currently evolving economic milieu and the dictum of comparative advantage requires.

    Essentially, the question is whether sustainability encompasses long-term sustainability in the face of expectable changes. It doesn’t often do that… but IMHO, for us, it should.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  54. Trading with our neighbours, Trevor? How far away are our nearest neighbours? Tens, hundreds or thousands of kilometres. What is sustainable about moving food thousands of kilometres, especially if is is basic foodstuffs?

    A better policy would be for localities, as small as is possible, to be self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs. That would maximise the energy return from that food. Once you start expending more energy on food, that you obtain from it, you need to import cheap abundant energy from some other source.

    I take it that you agree that the other things on my list (taken very quickly from the policies on the web site) as being unsustainable policies?

    But this is getting away from the topic, a little. As no party offers policies that are all sustainable, it kind of makes little difference which party gets to power since unsustainable societies can’t be sustained. If one is only interested in the short term, then there are certainly better ways (or I hope there are) of getting a fair representation of the people’s wishes in government, than MMP.

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  55. Tony – by what contorted logic do you conclude that I must agree with everything else you list because I disagreed with one specific point?

    You asked me what is sustainable about shipping food thousands of kilometres. I could ask what is unsustainable about it. Surely the key point isn’t the distance but the means of propulsion? There was international trade on the seas for many centuries before we started burning coal and oil to move our ships.

    However I asked about policies that were counter to a sustainable future and you have listed policies that don’t go far enough. These are NOT counter to a sustainable future, and not reasons to not support the Green Party.

    To get back to the thread – no party is going to promote 100% sustainable policies for long – they simply would not survive. Until enough people have been educated to understand the issues and grasp the seriousness of the challenges ahead and what is needed to overcome this, the best a party can do and expect to gain some reasonable level of support is to promote policies that move us in the right direction and do not encourage counter-productive activities (like building the Rodney gas-fired base-load power station).

    Trevor.

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  56. It wasn’t really contorted, Trevor; I gave a long list of some of the policies that I felt were not conducive to sustainability and you responded by questioning one of them, with no mention of the others. It’s possible that, therefore, you agreed with the rest. However, if you notice, I didn’t state that you did, adding a question mark.

    I explained why not being self-sufficient in food is unsustainable. Food is our basic energy source. If it takes more energy to provide it, then that is a recipe for suicide. In that case, only diverting energy from other sources will allow such a situation to be maintained for any time. If the energy is from non-renewable resources, that is clearly not sustainable. If it is from renewable sources, then one has to determine if the diversion of that source from it’s current use is sustainable. It’s not clear cut. Yes, there was a small amount of international trade, via sailing vessels, in the past. Do you think that would cover basic foodstuffs and do you think Green policy supports relatively tiny amounts of slow international trade? I haven’t seen anything to indicate that is so.

    Policies that “don’t go far enough” are, by definition, counter to sustainability. If they don’t go far enough then they don’t achieve sustainability and so support an unsustainable system.

    You’re right that parties who support 100% sustainability won’t survive. That’s a matter of education, I guess. I’ve actually said the same thing in my posts. But all this means is that no-one can vote for a party that promotes sustainability (there is no need for “100%”; sustainable is sustainable) and so whatever electoral system we have will result in collapse (since that is how unsustainable societies end up, unless moved purposefully to sustainability).

    At least you acknowledge that the Greens’ policies will not achieve sustainability, which was my point.

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