MMP’s party lists are designed to ensure that the number of seats a party gets in parliament is proportional to the amount of support it gets in the election.
They are used for positive discrimination to make parliament more reflective of the population.
Lists also enable people who can’t stand for a seat or who stand but don’t win, to enter, or stay in, parliament.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Some people have to resign from their jobs once they declare they are standing for parliament. Going for a list place means they’d be out of work for a much shorter time than if they sought selection in a seat.
People dont’ seem to be too exercised by people who stand in unwinnable seats and then enter parliament on the list – Katherine Rich was well regarded as an MP and Chris Finlayson and Hekia Parata, have both proved to be assets in government.
What does upset a lot of people though is the MPs who lose seats then come in on the list.
Change in that area would attract popular support but it isn’t without fish hooks.
If anyone who stood for a seat and didn’t win it could then not come in on the list the wee parties would stand in few if any electorates and just run lists.
That would be a pity because most candidates who fight an electorate campaign have to engage with voters of all persuasions and learn the practical implications of policy which they wouldn’t if they were just seeking a list seat.
It would also create difficulties for Labour and National. It would be much harder to find candidates to stand in unwinnable seats if they knew they didn’t also have a chance of entering parliament on the list.
We’d end up with two classes of MPs – electorate ones who weren’t on the list and list MPs who never stood in seats.
It would be better to apply the rule not to all who stand and fail, but to those who hold a seat then lose it.
MPs rejected by their electorate could be barred from returning on the list for that term. But their party could select them again, either for a seat or list only, in the next election and let voters decide if they wanted them.