No to MMP not necessarily no to proportionality

Those opposing a referendum on MMP seem to be saying it will mean a return to First Past the Post. But there are other alternatives which may be considered including Supplementary Member, Single Transferable Vote and Preverential Voting.

The chances of us getting a referendum aren’t high because National, which will campaign on the issue, would almost certainly need the support of at least one of the wee parties to do it and Act and United are the only other parties which say they trust us to choose our voting system.

If we do get a say, I’d prefer to be able to rank the choices rather than just tick one because that could split the vote and allow a less popular system through, which ironically is one of the criticisms of FPP.

However, regardless of the referendum, MMP can’t continue forever without some changes because proportionality declines after each census and it will eventually be too far out of kilter.

That happens because when the boundaries are reviewed more electorates are created in the North Island, to keep the number of people in them equal to the number in the 16 South Island electorates which are determined by law. This means every six years the North Island gets more general seats and there is a corresponding decrease in the number of list seats.

We started with 60 electorate and 60 list seats in 1996; after this election there will be 70 electorates (including the Maori seats) and only 50 list seats.

Another problem with the boundry revision under MMP is that rural electorates are getting too big. I am not suggesting we should change from one person one vote; but I do want a system which recognises there is a limit to the area we can expect an MP to service.

People in an electorate covering 38,247 square kilometres (as Clutha Southland, the largest general electorate does) can not hope to get the same ease of access to their MP as those whose MP has to cover an area of just 23 square kilometres as Epsom, the smallest general electorate.

It doesn’t matter who the MPs are nor which party they represent, it is humanly impossible to service these huge rural electorates as easily or effectively as the smaller city seats.

P.S. For more on this issue see the Herald where Clare Trevett backgrounds the case for a referendum on MMP and looks at alternatives.

2 Responses to No to MMP not necessarily no to proportionality

  1. We did choose out voting system. It’s National that doesn’t like the choice.
    Please point to a movement to get rid of MMP. There isn’t one. Attempts at a CIR petition fizzled for lack of interest.

    Beware of political parties offering referenda voters haven’t asked for. They aren’t doing it for the good of voters.

    MMP gave roughly half of all voters in New Zealand at least one vote that always counts toward representation by the party of their choice. National wants to take that vote away for its own advantage…..end of story.

    I can’t see how making a Labour vote in King Country or a National vote in Porirua worthless once again is an improvement in democracy or accountability. Safe seats for both major parties were effectively unaccountable under FPP – and remain so today.

    At least under MMP we can hold the entire party to account. We could not do that under FPP.


  2. Tanya says:

    How can you be sure that voters’ don’t want a referendum on MMP, Truthseekernz? There is a feeling of disatisfaction out there with it, list MP’s are not voted in by the electorate, and after all, MMP works much better for Labour. At least have a rederendum on our voting system to gage what the public really want, and that does not necessarily mean the old FPP system.


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