List MPs still seen as 2nd class

A letter to the editor of the Listener has a way to improve MMP:

There is little the matter with MMP that fine tuning will not fix. Fifty two of the 121 MPs are unelected, neither chosen nor approved the by public at large.

These list MPs represent only votes to their respective partier and there is really no need for their expensive presence in Wellington.

To judge from Freeview channel 22, few of them bother to attend Parliament, anyway. It is surely better to tell them to stay at home and save their largely unearned salaries.

It is difficult to detect irony on the written page. Whether or not this correspondent has his tongue in his cheek, he is making an oft repeated criticism of MMP.

While I’m no fan of the system, I think that criticism is unjustified. Some, probably most, list MPs work hard and not being in parliament when  television cameras are filming doesn’t mean they’re not doing something useful.

The import of the letter, though, is not what is says but what it shows – that after 15 years of MMP too many people don’t understand how it works and regard list MPs as second class representatives.

7 Responses to List MPs still seen as 2nd class

  1. Pete says:

    Second class? So politicians rank ahead of bureaucrats?


  2. pmofnz says:

    Politicians can actually rate?

    But seriously, the criticism is justified. For the next two months politicians will be doing nothing but trying to get another term at trough. Like teachers, they spend more time on leave than productively doing their actual work.

    Perception is everything and list MPs actively bring out the worst in MMP.


  3. homepaddock says:

    Pete – list MPs second to electorate rather than MPs in general second to any other occupation.

    PM – Good MPs will still be working on behalf of the public while they campaign. The nature of their roles means electorate MPs will almost certainly have more to do for constituents than list ones though.


  4. adam2314 says:

    Citizens ???..

    Surely it should only be ” Citizens ” that have the vote.


  5. Except that they are elected – if voters give National their Party Vote, they’re accepting their list. If they don’t like the list, they can vote for somebody else (although some alterations to MMP would make this more realistic: allowing voters to rank the candidate themselves, and also lowering the threshold so there are more options to choose from). More choice is better.

    And it’s not surprising most of the time the debating chamber is empty – most Parliamentary work happens beyond the chamber. Ask Michael Woodhouse if he thinks he doesn’t do any work!


  6. pmofnz says:

    “they’re accepting their list … More choice is better”,

    James, therein lies the issue. There is zero alternative to voting for those on lists. Or any other variation on the list theme such as SM. All are rorts to get tail waggers into the trough. Doesn’t matter whether you endorse one or the other, the basic premise of list MPs sucks. FPP is the only way to pick a winner.


  7. Paul Bailey says:

    There have always been MPs who are less effective than others. Some of you may recall Sir Keith Holyokes advice to any new MP to “breathe through thier noses for the first 3 years”.

    If I was to be critical I would say this would make a new MP in a Holyoke government ineffective for a least 3 years.

    It should also be remembered that a number of list MPs do not see thier constitutants being restricted by physical boundries but instead see thier constituant base as been defined by centres of interest – say for example the gay community. Given the diverstity of New Zealands population this is a good thing.

    Therefore I would argue that whilst some list MPs are ineffective, but no more so than in the past, most do a good job and work hard for thier constituants.

    This makes your comment that that after 15 years of MMP too many people don’t understand how it works and regard list MPs as second class representatives quite true.


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