What proportion of proportionality does Key want?

So, John Key wants a referendum on MMP but still ‘personally favours some proportionality in the voting system.’

“I personally would be surprised if we went back to first past the post.”

So what proportion of proportionality does he want? A few seats somewhere near the back of the chamber where diversity of view can be exhibited like a zoo?

And, If he is in favour of proportionality what is the problem with MMP? Could it be the way MMP means everyone’s votes count rather than just those in swing seats? Maybe it’s the way MMP makes it harder for large corporate lobbyists to influence policy as they do in first past the post electoral systems? Maybe he is struggling to build a consensus among his own caucus and finds the thought of also having to work with other parties too much to bear? Or could this be the conclusive proof people are looking for that he doesn’t want Roger Douglas in parliament?

44 Comments Posted

  1. I voted only once under FPP and only resumed under MMP – because earlier my vote did not count.

    The only way for every vote to count, is to have preferential voting in the electorates and party lists for the other seats (the question is whether these are SM or MMP) or STV.

    Don Brash has been leading the call for the SM system – presumably this is what Key is referring to.

    I initially preferred the preferential voting and SM option combination back in 1993, but was not offered this one (so did not vote).

    I would prefer a referendum every 6 years on electoral matters (as is, or PV SM, or STV or as is, but with minor adjustments to the current model).

    There is an existing MMP aberration where parties can win 4% of the vote and receive no seats and another with less than 2% can gain 2. I would allow parties winning over 2.5% of the vote one seat (and 2 seats for 4%). Another change that should be considered is in the way list seat allocations are assessed (a method which minimises overhang).

  2. turnip28

    I think we’ve already discussed the fact that NZ has a rather flawed political system e.g. semi-constitutional monarchy rather than a democracy, but I agree that a direct democracy has many drawbacks particularly if there isn’t a constitution that restrains the legislature and executive from being captured my the tyranny of the majority or special interest groups to abuse its power.

    Although that being said its far superior to the high-tech police state that China is becoming with the assistance of American multinational corporations in contravention of U.S. law.

  3. turnip28, I think Strings was assuming that Australia and Canada would beat us to become the 51st and 52nd.

    But, good points otherwise. We need constitutional safeguards under which democracy operates to protect human rights from the tyranny of the majority. With no written constitution, and no upper house, I personally think NZ is somewhat lacking in that regard.

  4. Hahaha Strings, the typical left wing NZ anti-american rubbish.

    Wouldn’t we be applying to become the 51st state not the 53rd?
    Anyway why would NZ want to become a US state i’m confused.

    A real democracy don’t make me laugh, democracy can be an evil form of government just as evil as a dictatorship. Why are their so many people who worship at the feet of democracy as though its some great and glorious god that bestows freedom on all. A direct democracy which I believe is what you want is a very dangerous form of government since it is simply the tyranny of the mob and reminds me of revolutionary france.

    Under a direct democracy in NZ maori will be destroyed along with all other minorities the tyranny of majority will reign and anyone in their path will be crushed and destroyed. An entreached constitution is the only thing that bestows freedom not a democracy.

    Would you live under a dictatorship with a constitution which restricts the powers of the dictator and protects the rights of the people or a direct democracy where the power is held by the majority who can use and abuse that power for the common good.

    New Zealander’s need to stop being so small minded about the US. Don’t look to the US now but look to the US of Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers.

  5. turnip28
    So, we adopt the US form of government, and axiomatically its constitution too, as that’s where the legal base for the system comes from. Then what? Apply to become the 53rd state? (Yes folks, there are others ahead of us in that race!)
    We could ask for equal subsidies for our farmers, take a share of the US$78 trillion debt the country owes, get the pork barrel running our way.

    Ouch! I just realised! We have fewer voters than the city of Boston – and they don’t get any special concessions, so why would we!

    Tell you what. Let’s go back to voting on THE ISSUES and POLICIES, make this a REAL DEMOCRACY – a thing that hasn’t been done before, and get on with restoration of the highest standard of living in the world, as opposed to the repressive regime in a land of free elections.

  6. Ari

    “Big bro- support for a referendum is VERY different from support for any of the alternatives. Many MMP supporters don’t particularly mind a referendum. I fully expect the referendum to be blown out of the water now that we’ve actually tried FPP, but if a referendum is what it takes to shut up the FPP agitators who think proportionality is somehow undemocratic, (lol) or that the quality of MPs overall has gone down (lol) under MMP, then let’s waste some money on a referendum.”

    Please do tell me how on earth a party with 5% of the vote should be able to force legislation on the people that 82% do not want and how can anybody describe that as democracy?

  7. Well the problem with our MMP system stems from the lack of seperation between the cabinet(executive) and the parliment(legislative). Winston whines and complains because he wants to be in the cabinet since that is were you can effect the most power. We can fix this by de-coupling the cabinet and the parliment, you can’t be a member of both the cabinet and the parliment any more.
    Each cabinet post could either be elected via STV directly or we could elect the prime misinster via STV and they could then appoint the cabinet.

    Any legislation still needs approval via the parliment before it is passed into legislation. The parliment is still elected via MMP as it represents the people.

    It is entirely possible for the country to elect a parliment with 41% National, 34% Labour, 5% Greens, 10% New Zealand First, 5% Maori
    and 5% ACT.

    We could also have elected John Key using STV as our Prime Minister.

    Winston Peters doesn’t hold as much power as you think as their is no way for him to get inside the cabinet as the people have decided that John Key is going to be in charge of the executive branch of power and Winston is just another back bencher along with everybody else in Parliment.

    This is entirely how the US system works and it actually works you can often have a democratic president and a republican house, legislation still gets passed. The issues and corruption of the US system have nothing to do with its sharing and division of power.

  8. BP, much as it is hard to swallow, ( suspect as hard for you as for me) Winston does actually represent a significant number of New Zealanders. While I find the views of his constituency abhorrent, they do have a right to be represented in Parliament.

  9. I don’t necessarily want to go back to FPP, however I don’t think this brand of MMP is suited to New Zealand. Why do we always seem to get our elections decided by Winston First?

    We need to avoid the situation we have now where small parties punch above their weight (read: mandate).

  10. Here is my referendum campaign slogan if Key gets his wish.

    A vote for FPP is a vote for George Bush.

  11. Anyone in NZ who supports FPP needs to live here in the US. Living here as opened my eyes I mean the US are FPP gone very very wrong.

    For example why are bio-fuel subsidies being pushed here well Iowa just happens to be a swing state and under FPP swing states get everything they want or need. So no presidential candidate would dear piss off the corn-lobby, why it will cost them the state and presidential election.

    If you are a republican living in NY you don’t need to vote and if you are a democrat living in Texas you also don’t need to vote. Maybe that explains why only 50% of registered Americans bother to vote.

    Why would NZ’rs want to go back to a system which excludes people. I have only ever voted in MMP elections and I have never voted for National or Labour. I like the fact my vote counts, if NZ heads back to FPP I will registor my protest by no longer voting.

    If NZ heads back to FPP that is an example of the majority seeking to force their will on the minority. The only recourse for the minority is to take up arms and defend their freedom from the tyrany of the majority.

  12. Big Bro: Show me a poll in the past 2 years where most did not support MMP? There aren’t any.

    Ari: Don’t under estimate the power of the media to hide the truth and distort what they cannot hide. Add to that the millions that Hunt, Shirtcliffe and others will again spend to get rid of democracy if they can.

    People are whining about tax cuts, not realising the RBNZ can transfer them straight to the banks by deeming them inflationary and raising interest rates. The oil companies will soak up the rest. Tax cuts a re a HUGE con….and the sheeple of talkback land will lap it up.

  13. I flew to New Zealand in order to do a documentary on MMP to bring it back to America with me. I don’t think you’ll find a greater fan of the MMP system than myself. I think it is the best system for democracy that we have. It has flaws – what system doesn’t – but the advantages are absolutely amazing.

    That said, a referendum on MMP isn’t a bad idea. I wouldn’t make it a campaign promise, and I would have waited 25 years on instead of 15, but now that NZers have had both first past the post and the MMP system, it makes sense to revisit the issue.

    I see nothing to fear in an electoral system referendum – better too many than too few.

    Besides. You’d have to be completely daft in order to vote against MMP in favor of First Past the Post. I could see perhaps someone moving towards STV, considering the Commonwealth tradition but think MMP is better.

    At any rate, perhaps what NZ should be doing is commissioning another Royal Commission in order to evaluate MMP 15 years on before you have the referendum.

  14. Big bro- support for a referendum is VERY different from support for any of the alternatives. Many MMP supporters don’t particularly mind a referendum. I fully expect the referendum to be blown out of the water now that we’ve actually tried FPP, but if a referendum is what it takes to shut up the FPP agitators who think proportionality is somehow undemocratic, (lol) or that the quality of MPs overall has gone down (lol) under MMP, then let’s waste some money on a referendum.

    I’d also like to point out that almost every government is likely to force through legislation that is opposed by a majority of the public- (the specific example doesn’t matter- we could pick out a bunch of National, Labour, Act, UF, Green, or NZF policies that didn’t have public support if we wanted, and even several that passed) if we didn’t believe that our elected officials had the right to override us now and again, we’d have some sort of direct democracy instead.

    Zippy- STV is in no way proportional. It’s an improvement over FPP voting (mildly) in that it doesn’t suffer from third-party spoilers, but it also has some weird complications- for instance, in some cases, voting someone as first on your list can actually cause them to lose the election, when voting them second or not voting at all would have allowed them to win.In terms of single-candidate voting systems, I’d say Range Voting (where you essentially rate each candidate out of 10 or 100) is your best bet. That said, systems are only proportional when the entire nation votes on the same thing. The idea of electorates itself attacks the principle of one person, one vote, and the fact that electorates don’t trump proportionality in MMP, but actually still count for something, is to me one of its best achievements.

  15. No Toad

    I am sick of people like Sue B forcing legislation on us that 82% of the people do not want.

    The minor parties do NOT have a mandate for this, do you really think we need to spend an extra $600 million on diplomats Toad?

  16. I wonder if it might not be better to consider the policy implications of the old, current and potential future forms of election?

    In the old world, people put up an election platform and you voted for the one you liked best, with the majority winning through and seeing a lot of what they voted for happening.

    In today’s world, people put up the election platfor they think the most people will vote for, you vote for both a person and a platform, and you get the person with the most votes AND no publicised or promoted policy platform. (Let’s face it, everything is up for grabs in the post election bribefest that sorts out who forms a government. A better name for what we have would be Last Past the Post, as that, under MMP, has been the party that has the biggest say on the next 2.5 years’ programme of work in the House of Representatives.)

    Under a future scenario, we could have a truly democratic approach, where MPs are elected in electorates based on their reliability and attraction to the local electorate, and the public also votes for the 30 policies they would like to see implemented, perhaps out of 20 each party is allowed to put up for consideration. (Yes, I know that’s a lot of work for the party, but heck, if we’re going to go full hog on democracy let’s do it right.) Ministers (there would be 30 of them forming the cabinet,) would be appointed by parties based on the number of ‘their’ policies that were adopted by the public, and the PM would be the leader of the party with the most selected policies, settled by a coin toss if there’s a tie. Elections could be held every 5 years to stretch the actual working time of parliament to 4 years, and would always be held on a holidey on the working day immediately after Waitangi day. The only way to reduce the term of a ‘government’ would be by a special motion to replace all members of cabinet carried by a 75% majority of the House of Representatives; at that point, a new cabinet is formed with the same proprtional representation as before, but with none of those from the prior cabinet able to be appointed.

    Now wouldn’t that be an interesting political environment to live in, and what’s more, it would be in the finest traditions of New Zealand, where we do something brave and bold that has never been done before!

  17. OutinFront

    “Every recent poll shows clear majority support for MMP”

    That is a blatant lie and does your cause no good at all, there is overwhelming support for a referendum on MMP.

    The people (voters) are sick of the tail wagging the dog.

  18. National’s move against MMP is a naked power grab. Evry recent poll shows clear majority support for MMP. If there was any public outcry for a referendum, the previous attempts to initiate a CIR on MMP should have succeeded easily. All they needed was the signatures of registered electors. Instead, they faded from view in a fog of apathy.

    If the voting system really does belong to the people, then why is one political party mandating a referendum that no one has been able to get 5% of electors to support? Why were asset sales, labour laws and free trade not put to referenda? There was major opposition to all them – with over 90% opposing the sale of Telecom in 1990. National voted for it. It becomes obvious National’s move is about power, not democracy.

    The elites who fund them want to get “their” ministers back on speed-dial for the sort of paid-for policy they used to get. These people have contempt for the average voter and are annoyed endlessly that ordinary people can exercise poltical power and block the progress of their rape of the Everyman for their own enrichment.

    How will National voters in safe Labour seats see this move? National wants to make sure that at some point their votes will be worthless once again….like they used to be. For the greater good of the National Party.

    It has been forecat that as the word’s resources become more limited, the welathy and powerful will move to lock down control of them by securing control over the political processes. MMP has prevented that so far and they hate it. If they can get rid of MMP, they will remain fat while the rest of us beg for their charity.

  19. well how about a review rather than a return to a two party system of national and labour –

    we all know how tiresome the repulicrats and demicans in the US are.

    national wants more power, not to hear what NZ has to say.

    first past the post is not a system which allows more public say and involvement

  20. why is frog so cynical in his tirade of questions? … it implies distrust of the NZ public to make the choice of how they (the NZ public) choose our MPs

    National has since clarified that this policy is similar to their 2005 policy, so why all the excitement?

    and, it aligns with public expectations … most NZers who voted for MMP, including myself, anticipated having a say in the review of MMP after it had time to settle in … the recent once over lightly select committee review went nowhere near satisfying that expectation

  21. Well at least the US has constitutional limits on its executive the NZ executive can do want ever it wants when ever it wants.

    Note you actually need a well written constitution the US one is not very well written but at least unlike NZ they have one.

    I find it strange that the Green party which seems to talk a lot about social justice but doesn’t seem to want to do much about protecting the people from the most dangerous organization in the country. Oh thats right the people only need to be protected from greedy corporation’s we don’t need to worry about the government instead we should all just sit quitely and do as we are told by the great machine of state.

  22. Turnip28

    Constitutional limits on the power of the Executive hasn’t worked very well in the United State has it?

  23. Gavin said the arrogance here is the Greens saying they should choose which way we choose our MPs …
    I couldn’t find that anywhere in the post Gav.

    Russel Norman reminded listeners on Morning Report of the scare tactics used by pro FPP BRT in the run up to the 1993 referundum. This youtube clip illustrates some of the emotive rubbish that Shirtcliffe came up with.

    Watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrTQG-PdTA0

    And the amount of money spent on saturation advertising of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) by the pro FPP Shirtcliffe campaign almost succeeded.

    Learn from history. If we have a referendum THEN run it so all voices have an equal opportunity to be heard and are not drowned out by those with the $$$.

  24. I personally like the idea of an elected president who serves one 4 year term and is bound by a constitution that limits their power.

    The elected president has all the powers of a dictator but only for 4 years and is kept in check by a well written constitution along with a constitutional court. They may only serve 1 four year term.

    Think of the money the country saves from not having to maintain 120 dole bludgers.

  25. samiuela, The only problem with dictators is that they are usually even more egotistical and psychopathic than the average politician.

  26. I think there is a tendency to blame the incompetancy of the Government on the electoral system.

    In fact, Turnip28’s analysis is closer to the truth, governments are incompetent and unpopular because most (not all) of the politicians are self-serving idiots. If you don’t believe me, go and watch parliament, its worse than a class of teenage kids.

    Maybe we would be better off with a competent, dictator?

  27. the question is not what does Key want, but what do the people of NZ want?

    and a referendum is how we find out

    the arrogance here is the Greens saying they should choose which way we choose our MPs (thh current way) rather than trusting the people of NZ to make an informed and intelligent choice

    NZers have demonstrated their ability to make an informed and intelligent choice twice, firstly to run FPP off against MMP, and then to choose MMP

    let’s trust NZers to do it again

  28. I seriously hope that the New Zealand public are not foolish enough to actively give up some of their democratic power in New Zealand. Why one would choose to become less of a democratic society is above and beyond me.

    The MMP is an amazing system for keeping the government in check. In a sense it serves the same purposes and provides very similar protection to a codified constitution. Do people really have such a problem with a system which leans more towards every vote counting?

  29. # big bro Says:
    May 18th, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    > I do have one question for you, if we do have a STV system will we still have to have the ridiculous and racist Maori seats?

    I don’t think we really have to have Maori seats under MMP or STV. They were justified through most of the 20th century on the grounds that the unrepresentative first past the post system probably wouldn’t give Maori any representation without them. MMP is so much better at representaing minorities that I don’t think there’s any point in keeping them.

  30. # BluePeter Says:
    May 18th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    > Personally, I’d favour the findings of the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform in the eighties. It recommended retaining First Past the Post but holding a referendum on the idea of electing extra MPs using the SM system.

    No it didn’t. It recommended MMP, broadly as we’ve ended up with except for no Maori seats.

    I seem to recall there was a report written at one time which did recommend SM, but it was long before the 1980s, and it wasn’t written by a committee with anywhere near the independence of a royal commission.

  31. Zippy

    I don’t know a lot about STV but if it means the end of Winston then it sounds good to me.

    I do have one question for you, if we do have a STV system will we still have to have the ridiculous and racist Maori seats?

  32. Frog

    I am guessing that he wants a system where the people know what the real motivation is behind a party, take your own as an example, this post of yours is another in a long line of anti National party diatribes.

    You and the Greens would be better (and far more honest) to admit that you will always be Labour’s poodle, you would be better to admit that your real concern is social justice and that in reality you have morphed into nothing more than the Alliance in drag.

    Anyway, back to your original question, it matters not what John Key wants, it matters what the people want, a referendum has long been talked about and thats what the people now demand, in many ways you and the other minor parties have to take some of the blame for the huge majority who now want another say given that you have abused your authority by ramming through such overwhelmingly unpopular (social engineering legislation) bills such as the anti smacking bill and your support of the EFA.

    I guess it just goes to prove that if you push the public to far they will eventually push back and given the way the public feel about this government I would suggest that the days of MMP (and possibly any system other than FPP) are well and truly numbered.

    We must have a system where the people can get rid of those they do not like, MMP makes that impossible, overall the signs do not look good for the Greens and the other minor parties, perhaps if you have listened to the people in the first place things might have been different……….but you did not……… you will end up paying a very high price.

  33. MMP is great since it stops governements from being able to act and do things. This is a real good thing since most people in government are stupid. Do you really want stupid people doing things.

    Now you might ask why are their so many stupid people in government well it should be easy to answer in order to get in to government you need to be voted in by the people who are also stupid, stupid people vote stupid people in to office to stupidly run the country, sometimes we are lucky and we get some people in their who aren’t stupid which is good. Remember Representive Democracy is a fair form of government doesn’t mean its a smart form.

    Their is of course another from of democracy which has to be the most stupidest form of government ever thought off by human beings. That form
    would be direct democracy. Now you are actually allowing the stupid people the right to directly vote on everything.

    How come their isn’t a test you have to pass before you are allowed to vote?

  34. Oh happy day!

    I have been praying National would come out with this policy.
    this is a brilliant piece of politics by National, they haven’t said they want to change MMP (Micky Mouse Politics)All they are saying is they want to give “US”the voters the chance to have our long promised referendum

    I suspect this is the catalyst for a change of govt Labour have been saying “show us some policy ” and now they have to deal the worst policy National could of come up with OH JOY

  35. In 1999, more than 80% of voters voted in a non-binding referendum to reduce the size of Parliament to 99. That hasn’t happened.

    The Maori seats were to be scrapped. This hasn’t happened.

    What was promised was a full review of MMP. The special select committee on MMP was a farce. A “full review” is surely a binding referendum, which is what voters expected, and is what Key is promising. Good on him, and I hope New Zealanders vote National in on a landslide on that fact alone.

    What are you scared of? If the public want MMP, they’ll vote for MMP.

    Personally, I’d favour the findings of the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform in the eighties. It recommended retaining First Past the Post but holding a referendum on the idea of electing extra MPs using the SM system.

  36. * Supplementary Member system (SM); commonly called the parallel system, used in Japan and previously in Russia and Italy; a semi-proportional mixed system with proportional representation used only for the seats filled by lists; and a larger proportion of seats elected by FPP.

    this is what I voted for

    at the time it seemed the fairest system and still dose
    I like that u only get the proportional part in the list seats

Comments are closed.