An ODT editorial published before the last referendum on our electoral system had this to say about MMP:
. . . the dangers of the mixed member proportional (MMP) system are considerable.
In summary they are a more expensive Parliament with more paid members (120), less real representation for the South Island and the possibility of the creation of more Maori seats instead of an integrated system and doubts about the ‘party lists’ system where the voters have no direct say in the candidates finally declared elected.
There is also the resulting instability of governments with the high probability of coalitions and political ‘deals” in efforts to avoid frequent elections. Under MMP there will be no real meaning in any party manifestos or political promises because of the need to compromise within coalitions after the election. And this sort of proportional representation will probably lead to the break-up of the main political parties, National and Labour.
The Otago Daily Times is more concerned about the November 6 referendum than the General Election also on that date. The election will merely determine the government for the next term of office, but the referendum is crucial to the future of New Zealand. A wrong decision to opt for MMP could be most costly for the taxpayer and disastrous for the country in the long term. . .
The danger is that the referendum may be regarded by some voters as some sort of a novelty and a chance to exercise a ‘protest vote’. It could be that if the general election campaign descends to too many personalities some people will blindly vote for a change in the electoral system in order to say ‘a plague on all your houses’. . .
MMP in our opinion is not only seriously flawed but also a dangerous option politically and economically. . .
Not all the ODT’s fears have been realised but we have got a more expensive parliament with more MPs; less real representation and not just for the South Island; and party lists over which voters have no direct say.
The potential for unstable government is greater as is the probability of coalitions and deals. Manifestos and promises have been sacrificed and compromised in private post-election negotiations.
The referendum was regarded by voters as a chance to exercise a protest vote and ironically in voting against MPs we got saddled with a system which gave us more.
MMP is flawed. So are all the other systems for which we have the chance to opt tomorrow but the good points about SM outweigh the bad ones for me.