How would Kate have voted?

The Campaign for MMP reckons Kate Sheppard would be backing MMP in November’s referendum.

They give several reasons for that including that MMP has brought more women into parliament.

There is no doubt there are more women in parliament now than there was prior to 1996 when we had a First Past the Post electoral system. But there are also more women in other positions more commonly held by men in the past so some of the change is due to changes in society rather than the electoral system.

Some of the increase is is due to parties deliberately putting women in winnable places on their lists which are a feature of MMP. Some, perhaps even most are their on merit. But there is also an element of tokenism and some are there not because of their skills and abilities but because of their gender.

However, a lack of skill hasn’t always stopped some men getting into parliament so maybe that’s another sign of closing the gender gap – that women no longer have to be better than men to get a job.

The question then is, how many of the women who are in parliament would be there under another system?

Other systems with smaller or no list would provide more opportunities for women to seek selection in electorates.

Anthony Hubbard looked at the number of women in parliament and concluded it has plateaued.

The reasons for that are no doubt complex. Kiwiblog says research into it should consider:

    1. How many men and women indicate their interest in being candidates to a party
    2. How many go on to contest a selection
    3. How many win a selection
    4. How many then get elected to Parliament

Another point to consider is women’s participation in other occupations, if there are barriers there and whether there are other  barriers which are peculiar to politics.

Research would also have to look at not just how many men and women seeking to be MPs drop out at each stage but why.

Kate Sheppard was campaigning for women to get the vote not to be MPs, that hurdle came later and which electoral system she would support is a moot point.

However, one aspect of MMP which puts women off seeking selection which she might have considered if voting in the referendum is the larges size of electorates.

I know of only one man but several women who were seriously considering standing for National in large rural electorates. They decided servicing huge geographical areas would put too much strain on their families and pulled out.

One said to me, it was hard enough combining life as an MP with her role as a mother in a small electorate she wouldn’t even consider it in a bigger one.

If Kate was voting in the referendum she might be just as likely to opt for a system with smaller electorates which make it easier to combine work as an MP with family life.

At least some of the women who are in parliament on the list might also be there as electorate MPs under a system with more and smaller electorates.

6 Responses to How would Kate have voted?

  1. pdm says:

    If you have more electorates, which is something I would favour, you would have to reduce the number of list MP’s because there are already far too many MP’s in Parliament, from all political spectrums, who are just keeping seats warm and making up the numbers.


  2. homepaddock says:

    PDm – all options in the referendum have 120 MPs.

    All would have more electorates and fewer list MPs, some would have no list MPs at all.


  3. Andrei says:

    What does it matter how many women are in Parliament? It is a silly distraction that is meaningless to the vast majority of men and women for who struggle on a daily basis – in part because of the depredations of Government

    The possession of a penis or lack thereof is not important – what matters is what an MP stands for and their character.

    As for how you make your way in the world – well for any aspiration there will be obstacles and barriers to be overcome, regardless of gender and striking a balance between your personal life and professional one – well you’ve gotta make a call as to what is important to you.

    For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?


  4. homepaddock says:

    I agree that absolute numbers don’t matter, Andrei.

    The only problem would be if some people had to jump higher hurdles than others to get there.

    I suspect one reason for fewer women in parliament and other jobs with similar demands on time and energy is not that they can’t get there but that they choose not to.


  5. Andrei says:

    I suspect one reason for fewer women in parliament and other jobs with similar demands on time and energy is not that they can’t get there but that they choose not to.



  6. pdm says:

    HP – as Andrei indicates – you sum it up perfectly.


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