MMP referendum information campaign under way

The information campaign for the MMP referendum has been announced today.

There is a wealth of information on the Electoral Commission website that is worth checking out – remember the future of our democracy is at stake here!

We think MMP is the fairest system as it makes everyone’s vote count equally no matter where they live in the country.

FPP on the other hand is a winner takes all system that often leaves the majority of voters without representation. It tends to create minority governments with absolute power (and despite what your friendly business moguls might say – SM is essentially the same as FPP).

Also worth remembering that if people vote to retain MMP – it will be reviewed so that any niggles with it can be ironed out.

Let’s keep a fair system, lets keep MMP!

14 thoughts on “MMP referendum information campaign under way

  1. I think it’s hard to predict what will happen, because the anti-MMP campaign looks like it will hitch it’s wagon to SM rather than FPP. While SM can be pitched as more reasonable than FPP, it is currently almost unknown and has single digit support in the polls. That means they have a bigger job to do, though the fact that it sounds proportional could also fool people, as the proponents are counting on of course.

  2. It’s not just about missing out on seats either. If our voting system didn’t discard votes below the threshold, smaller parties could expect more support: I’m more likely to vote for a small party that represents my views if there’s no chance of my vote going to waste. That means our current system encourages populism and the race to the middle.

    I will, of course, be voting for MMP in the first question. There’s no reason to do anything else. I’ve seen the polls: FPP is going to win the second half. I guess I just wish this referendum was STV/PV, so I could rank STV, PV and MMP. :-)

  3. @Alwyn 10:48 AM

    From a political perspective I was pleased to see the Christian Coalition not get seats in 1996, but I would have been more pleased had they not got seats because they polled below 1%.

    And I consider NZFirst to be a bunch of bigots too, and am very happy that they are not in Parliament. But I’m not happy about the reason they are not in Parliament, because much as I despise the bigotry of parties like NZFirst and the former Christian Coalition, the people who vote for them deserve representation..

  4. Isn’t it interesting that there are only complaints about the MMP threshold when ACT get in and NZ First miss out.
    Did anyone contributing to this debate complain when the Christian Coalition party got 4.33% of the vote and missed out on any parliamentary seats in 1996? That was more than the left supporting NZF but I imagine everyone here was very pleased with Christian Coalition’s failure to gain seats.

  5. I’d agree, but what is the correct threshold to achieve that? I think we need to take rounding into effect, which would mean a threshold of 0.4% or 0.4% plus one vote, right? Is this not just another way of saying there should be no threshold as simple rounding would deliver the same result?

  6. @Lats 8:55 AM

    I tend to agree. One thing about the electoral referendum process that hasn’t been well publicised to date is that it will involve a review of MMP following the first referendum to address issues such as that, and the “coat tails” provision that allows parties who win an electorate seat to drag in other MPs even if their party’s support is below the threshold .

    It is unfair and undemocratic that ACT got 5 Parliamentary seats at the last election with a lower percentage of the vote than NZF who got none.

  7. One of my major beefs with MMP is the whole threshold/hangover aspect. If we are going to stick with electorate representatives as well as list members then it seems logical to me to lower the threshold to the amount required to gain 1 seat in the house. That is 1 out of 120, or 0.8% of the vote. So if your party gets 0.8% of the vote nationally, you get 1 mp. If you win 1 electorate, but your national proportion of the vote is less than 0.8% (unlikely I suspect, but still possible) you get your 1 mp and that is it. No overhang. I’ve never been comfortable with the 5% threshold, it means there are interests in the country not getting a voice. And ultimately we’d end up with a much more diverse parliament. I think the minor parties might gather a few extra votes under this system. With the 5% threshold there may well be a number of voters out there who choose not to throw their party vote at their preferred minor because they expect that party to fall below the threshold, so instead they support their next best option, one of the larger parties guaranteed to get some representation. And on current polling that would be only Nat, Lab or Green.
    Thought? Comments?

  8. It sure is. My preferred STV system is one that does away with electorates in favour of an nationwide open list.

    It would be worth noting that your preferred STV system won’t be one of the choices being offered in the referendum, so need to consider what system will maximise proportionality of those choices you can actually vote for.

    Proportionality should mean that every single person that votes (and doesn’t do something stupid like only rank one unlikely candidate) gets an influence on the final makeup of Parliament.

    Granted STV if designed well can insure everyone gets an influence, but that’s not what is meant by proportionality, which really is about your top preference, not your second, third or even further down.

    With STV and 120 electorates, you could have 7% rank Greens 1st because they want Greens in Parliament, but still get no Greens in Parliament. Fine to say these voters had an influence via their lower prefs, but totally wrong to say the result was proportional.

    What is this “first preference” thing? You sound like Kerry Prendergast. It’s a terrible definition of proportionality.

    You’re getting confused. You can’t have proportionality when electing a single person, like a mayor. Kerry was lamenting that she had more first pref votes than Celia, so should have got in, i.e. she likes FPP. A silly argument I agree, but not what I’m saying at all.

  9. When MMP was voted for I had really high hopes for politics in New Zealand. I thought this was the chance for a real change. This has never happened. Instead of a mixture of 60% Coke and 40% Pepsi, or vice versa, we get 45% Pepsi, 35% Coke and 10% lime juice, 5% vinegar and 5% of unidentified ingredients, but no (or only minor) tangible changes from what we had under FPP. The problem is that Coke and Pepsi combined still make up 80%, and consequently nothing much changes.

    There is no doubt that MMP is a far fairer system than FPP (in terms of proportionality), but by and large this hasn’t had any major effect on the lives of New Zealanders. Maybe New Zealanders really don’t want anything other than Coke and Pepsi? If this is the case, FPP will serve them quite adequately. If however they want a change from Coke and Pepsi, I suspect something a bit more radical than MMP is required.

  10. @Dominic 8:47 PM

    The issues you raise could be addressed by abolishing the current MMP vote threshold of 5% for representation, and by abolishing the “yellow jacket tails” provisions under which ACT managed to get representation despite getting less votes than NZFirst.

    Yep, okay to vote for STV as in Part B I guess, because it is at least a more democratic and representative option than the other systems that are being proposed.

    But the law requires, if MMP is retained, a subsequent review of that electoral system to address the issues you raise Dominic.

    So my suggestion is that voting for MMP in Part 1 should be the priority.

    If you want to vote STV in Part 2, I’m comfortable with that. Just don’t vote for the totally undemocratic FPP or SM systems – they are what give Governments a mandate with less than 40% of the vote.

  11. But it is not a proportional system

    It sure is. My preferred STV system is one that does away with electorates in favour of an nationwide open list. It ends up more proportional than MMP can ever be: votes that would otherwise be wasted under the threshold are redistributed.

    Proportionality should mean that every single person that votes (and doesn’t do something stupid like only rank one unlikely candidate) gets an influence on the final makeup of Parliament. That’s something MMP can never guarantee by its very nature: if you exclude any party from the final make up of Parliament, you will be ignoring votes.

    Not even if we lower the threshold to 0% would MMP be better at minimising wasted votes – you’ll still be disenfranchising anyone who votes for a party that does not garner enough votes for a seat (population / number of seats). Under any MMP system I can think of, if you use your party vote on any party that doesn’t make it into Parliament, your vote is completely wasted. At our last election, that happened to 6% of votes! The ACT party only got 3.65% – amazing.

    So, tell me how we can fix this problem with MMP.

    many more people’s first preference votes not resulting in representation by the Party they most support

    What is this “first preference” thing? You sound like Kerry Prendergast. It’s a terrible definition of proportionality.

  12. The proportionality of STV increases with an increased number of MPs elected from each multi-member electorate.

    The difficulty with STV in New Zealand would be that our relatively small population and its geographic distribution could result in the South Island having extremely large electorates (because to get STV anywhere near proportional, it needs 5-7 members elected per electorate), and would likely result in under-representation of people in rural areas.

    It is an ideal system for countries that are geographically small and have a relatively uniform population distribution across their land – Singapore springs to mind as the perfect place for STV elections, as do some of the smaller European and Caribbean countries.

    But in New Zealand it would be less representative, and therefore less democratic, than MMP unless we significantly increased the number of Members we elect to our Parliament.

    Fair enough to vote for STV in Part 2 of the referendum though (if you chose to vote at all in that Part, which you don’t have to for your vote to be valid).

    At least STV is more representative and democratic than any of the other options to MMP offered.

  13. STV is fairer than FPP and the Greens have supported it for local body elections, where it works well for multi-member wards particularly. But it is not a proportional system, with many more people’s first preference votes not resulting in representation by the Party they most support.

    There is indeed still some wasted vote due to the threshold. That is one of the issues that will be addressed in the MMP review that will occur if a majority vote to retain MMP in the referendum.

    If your goal is to increase proportionality – and that is a good goal – the way to achieve it is to support MMP. There is no system on offer in this referendum that can achieve greater proportionality than MMP.

  14. We think MMP is the fairest system as it makes everyone’s vote count equally

    Except for those who voted for a party that didn’t make the threshold. Their votes are completely wasted, and aren’t reflected in the final make up of Parliament. This happened to more than 100,000 voters last election.

    MMP is not the fairest system. STV provides better proportional representation, and ensures everyone’s vote is heard, even when a party doesn’t make the threshold.

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