Don’t let the numbers get in the way of a campaign

The pro MMP  poster at No Right Turn says I’d rather live in a democracy with 120 MPs than a dictatorship with 99.

I’ll ignore the debate on whether MMP really is any more democratic than other electoral systems and stick with the numbers.

If we still had FPP we wouldn’t yet have 120 MPs but we’d have more than 99 unless the formula for setting electoral boundaries had changed.

The number of electorate seats keeps increasing under MMP and they would have under FPP too. 

The number of South Island seats was fixed under FPP and still is with MMP. Under both systems the South Island population is divided by that fixed number of seats and that figure is used to determine how many people will be in each electorate in both islands, plus or minus 5%.

The North Island population grows faster than that of the South so every six years when electorate boundaries are calculated we get another seat or two.

Had we still had FPP we’d be approaching 110 MPs.

This formula is why MMP will eventually stop working as it’s intended to. Each time an electorate seat is added a list seat is subtracted. We started with 65 electorate seats (60 general and 5 Maori) and 55 list seats in 1996. Now there are 70 electorate and 52 list seats (an overhang of two).

Unless there’s an increase in the total number of seats in parliament we’ll get to a stage where the number of list seats is so small proportionality will be lost.

The alternative is to reduce the number of South Island electorates but the big rural electorates in both islands already cover far too big an area.

Whatever the referendum result, there will have to be changes eventually and the price of maintaining proportionality might be more MPs – electorate and list.

5 Responses to Don’t let the numbers get in the way of a campaign

  1. pdm says:

    Well we had 9 years of a dictatorship with Clark.

    Lets have democracy with 99 MP’s and a STV polling system.


  2. homepaddock says:

    Let’s not have only 99 MPs regardless of which system we get.

    Rural and provincial electorates are already too big, they’d be impossible to service adequately if we had only 99 MPs.


  3. scrubone says:

    As I just blogged this morning, he’s not that keen on the voice of the people himself, as his S59 banner shows.


  4. pdm says:

    I think Electorate geographic size is mainly a problem in the SI and perhaps one Maori seat in the NI. The Maori seats should be abolished anyway.

    Perhaps there is a way to increase the number of electorate seats and reduce the list seats to overcome the problem. Or even better would STV work on 99 electorate seats only – I don’t know the answer but perhaps someone like DPF does.


  5. homepaddock says:

    ” Electorate geographic size is mainly a problem in the SI”

    It’s worse in the South – Clutha Southland: 38,247 sq kms; West Coast Tasman 38,042; Waitaki 34,888; and Kaikoura 23,706.

    But even East Coast at 13,649; Taranaki King Country at 12,869 and Northland at 12,255 are big enough.

    To put that in perspective – Epsom is 23 sq kms; Mount Roskill is 24 and North Shore is 25.

    There is no way to reduce the number of electorates and keep a similar number in every electorate without increasing the size of all of them and increasing the size of the provincial & rural ones more.


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