MMP makes it harder to vote ’em out

One of the strengths of the First Past the Post voting system was the ability to get rid of unpopular politicians and governments.

It is much harder to do that under MMP.

A candidate can lose a seat but still get back into parliament on the list.

A party could lose a lot of support, it might not have the most seats in parliament but it could still cobble together a coalition and carry on leading a government.

A survey last week showed a majority of people thought the party which had the most support should lead the next government.

That didn’t always happen under FPP where at least twice National won more seats but fewer votes than Labour and it doesn’t have to happen under MMP.

A government could be formed by the silver and bronze medalists and some also-rans. Some people think that’s okay and if all those parties can bargain their way to a mix that gives them a total of more than 50% of the seats they’ll be right.

New Zealand is one of the oldest democracies in the world so whatever happens next Saturday, like it or not, we’ll accept it.

But if the result is seen as unfair it will help those of us who want to put MMP to a referendum because one of that system’s big weaknesses is that it ‘s much more difficult to vote an unpopular government out.

3 Responses to MMP makes it harder to vote ’em out

  1. Bren says:

    I think it actually shows that the Labour government isn’t as unpopular as you think. Anyone that keeps up with the news knows that a vote for the Greens or a vote for the Progressives or even a vote for New Zealand First is one for parties that support the Labour government. Much like how everyone that votes for ACT or United Future knows that is for a party that will support a National government. Fundamentally it needs to be remembered, we are not voting for a government but a parliament.

    First Past the Post always exaggerates the margin of victory or in the case of close results provide some undemocratic outcomes.

    The Maori Party needs to tread carefully and make sure it doesn’t use its overhang to form a result that circumvents the will of the people – say 51% vote for Nats/UF/Act and Labour is still able to form its “five headed monster” – that could be bad.

    Ironically, going back to FPP would help the Maori Party out a lot. If we take the 2005 electoral seats as a guide then the Maori Party should get 5.8% of the seats. Could get up to around 8.5% this time. And based on 2005 electoral seat votes – FPP would have required one of the major parties to make some deal with the Maori Party in order to get power. (Should slip in the note that voting behaviour would have changed under a FPP system but I don’t think it would be too different)

    As my final note in this rather long comment: As a leftie I can’t wait to see Winston Peters go, I think I’m even willing to see a John Key government if that’s the price for Peters to go.


  2. Mr Dennis says:

    The biggest problem with MMP is the 5% threshold. This threshold results in much of the strategic voting, where people may vote for a party they don’t entirely agree with and not for one they do, to ensure their votes count.

    If we had no threshold, we would have seen representation from:
    1996: Christian Coalition, ALCP, United
    1999: Christian Heritage, Future NZ, ALCP
    2002: Christian Heritage, Outdoor Recreation NZ, Alliance

    In actual fact the results would have been quite different, as if people were less scared of wasting their vote all these parties would likely have polled far higher. We would have seen far greater diversity in parliament, and the last decade may have been very different – especially with representation from the Christian Coalition, which may never have split into CH and FNZ if they got in, and from ALCP. In my opinion this diversity would have been a very good thing, and Parliament would represent the country far more accurately than it does at present, because people would be more inclined to vote for who they truly believed was right, rather than vote for the lesser evil.


  3. pdm says:

    In Hawkes Bay we have two prime examples of MP’s being thrown out by their electorates and staying in parliament on the list. Rick Barker (Tukituki) and Russell Fairbrother both had majorities in the order of 16,000 in 1999, although in Fairbrothers case he inherited it from the very capable and popular Geoff Braybrook.

    In 2005 both had turned these to majoritis in excess 6/8,000 for National – yet both stay in Parliament and Barker remains a cabinet minister. This emphasises all that is wrong with MMP.

    Thankfully we will see the last of Fairbrother after this election but the equally useless Barker will probably remain by virtue of the list.


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