MMP gives parties too much power and makes them impotent

MMP gives parties a lot of power in some ways but leaves them impotent in others.

They rank the lists which determines the order candidates get into parliament giving them a lot of  control over candidates.

Once a minor party has a seat it has power far beyond its support base even, as both Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne prove, it is no longer effectively a party.

However, the system which gives parties a lot of power also leaves them powerless.

Labour doesn’t want Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher or Dave Hereora back in parliament but under the rules, they are the first five in line to get the seat vacated by Darren Hughes. Only if each in turn does not accept the offer can it be offered to Louisa Wall.

If any of those five returns to parliament we’ll be paying them 11 months salary and allowances which comes to a total of $162,020 to do what?

She or he will go to parliament, sit in the house and have select committee duties until parliament rises for the election in early October. S/he might be asked to be a buddy MP in an electorate but how hard s/he applies her/himself to the task will be entirely up to her/him.

Knowing s/he is only there as a stop-gap gives her/him nothing to lose as Judith Tizard has already made clear:

Goff’s other problem is Hughes’ vacant party list spot – it’s due to go to Judith Tizard.

He views her as a figure from the past and doesn’t want her back.

“It’s for seven months, for some that might be regarded as disruptive,” he says.

But Tizard is undecided – she’s got unfinished business.

“I’d love to make a valedictory speech,” she says.

And if she does – she really will be disruptive.

“The question is whether Phil Goff is the person to lead New Zealand and he’s got to capture New Zealand’s imagination and for New Zealand to see him as an alternative,” she says.

Labour is already unstable. Allowing a former MP to return when she makes it quite clear she isn’t loyal to the leader will only make that worse but the rules of MMP allow that to happen and there’s nothing the party can do about it.

14 Responses to MMP gives parties too much power and makes them impotent

  1. Andrei says:

    Just another reason to ditch the stupid system and return to FPP


  2. homepaddock says:

    That would get my vote Andrei but we’re be a minority so I’m trying to work out which of the alternatives is better, or at least less worse than MMP.


  3. Richard says:

    “However, the system which gives parties a lot of power also leaves them powerless”. How true and succinct.


  4. gravedodger says:

    The euphoric dream of supporters of MMP, where they see representation of political minority groups that are in almost every case single issue in their focus has turned into a nightmare when we add a coterie of egos that have splintered off main stream parties with rewards that enable them to feed their over inflated self promoted existance. To wit Anderton, Dunne, and Peters who is able though machinations of funding rorts get additional members to follow him in the back door. All these minimal policy focus groups that were included as lobby/pressure groups under the Two Party system that FPP operated under, gained or lost support for their issues at policy development level within the Party,in spite of what supporters of MMP will say. Social Credit was a little different in that their main plank was giving the Government the legislative right to print money while ignoring the salient fact that such a policy merely lowers the value of the currency in circulation as the mighty Green Backs owners are now coming to terms with as it falls in value as set by other currencies and precious metals. As a nation we dodged a bullet as many voters with minimal understanding supported their policies whithout understanding the consequences.
    As one of the minority 49% who failed to retain FPP when I supported the movement to STV as a second option, my fears of over representation of minority parties and single member “party” egos influencing government achievements to a point where the benefits are diluted to a position of ineffectivness, or additional activities are implemented that merely place a further constraint on effective government.


  5. homepaddock says:

    GD – for STV to work you need parties to which you would want to transfer your vote.


  6. Andrei says:

    for STV to work you need parties to which you would want to transfer your vote

    Indeed – the real problem is of course there isn’t one worth really voting for!

    Still as Churchill once said “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”


  7. gravedodger says:

    Fair point Ele.
    I am assuming real “parties” will emerge to offer suitable “bribes” for my vote under the STV model also but when the actual support for the Troughmaster General’s vote is analysed as to his possible attraction as a candidate in his “safe seat” he will still have it but the mechanism that brings others in on his coat tails will be removed and his real value as a viable option as a candidate will decide his immediate and his long term future as his actual value to the voters who chose him is revealed.
    Parties with genuine national appeal will still have options as sponser of a local candidate for a second choice, ie Greens, Maori, even nutjobs such as the Democratic Peoples Republic Party of Aotearoa for Mr Locke and his ilk. Also genuine “independents” will still be a part of the landscape but their value will be only where they stand and not multiplied over the national scene that gave messers Hide and Peters additional power through garnering a minority of voters in other electorates.
    To be successful though, a candidate for the Parliament will still have to garner the support of 50% of the voters with the best chance of evaluating the credentials ie those who live where the candidate stands as the preferences are distributed. nb STV delivered a Green Party Mayor for the city of Wellington.
    The Social Credit Party of Wilfred Owen and Vern Cracknel did better at electorate levelwhen the emphasis was diluted in the area of monetary Reform and they adopted a more sanguine aura as “democratic socialists” that lead to success for Cracknell, then Beetham and Knapp, Cracknell impressed his rural electorate of Hobson sufficiently but failed spectacularly when he got to Wellington and Logan Sloane regained the seat.
    Independants were successful in the recent Federal elections in Australia and eventually got Ms Gillard over the line. Their political future will be watched with interest.

    ps using STV for our local Hosp Board elections does not deliver democracy imo due to a very big list (about 30 from memory) for about 5 seats and as it is over the whole area with no local area of representation, then name recognition rather than candidate value trumps any ability a candidate can reasonably promote cost effectively.


  8. robertguyton says:

    You yearn for FPP Ele?
    That’s a stunning admission and terribly sad to read.
    It is good that you are honest and up-front though. We can see you clearly when you state your position so boldly.


  9. pdm says:

    RG – I think most people favour a system which means people like Peters, Anderton, Dunne or Hide plus the Greens and the Maori Party cannot have influence in excess of the percentage of the vote they receive. In other words the tail has to stop wagging the dog.

    Like GD I favour STV but as HP points out that has it’s flaws as well.

    Adolf had a couple of excellent posts over at No Minister on variations of MMP about a year ago. I thought a couple of his suggestions were worth investigating.


  10. robertguyton says:

    pdm – but not Ele. She’s a FPP chick.


  11. homepaddock says:

    I voted to keep FPP in the referendum, had it been preferential voting I’d have given my 2nd preference to SM and probably wouldn’t have used preferences after that.

    FPP is far from perfect but at least electorates weren’t so big. MMP and STV give too much power to parties when membership is low and declining.

    I haven’t decided which system I’ll vote for this year – probably not FPP.


  12. robertguyton says:

    What about Benevolent Dictator – isn’t that what you secretly desire Ele? :-


  13. homepaddock says:

    Tempting in theory, Robert, but too much danger of more dictatorship and less benevolence in practice.


  14. robertguyton says:

    I’m printing your comment off to pin below the pictures of Gerry and Jonno I have on my dartboard 🙂


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