Stability vs proportionality

Do we need a party vote threshold and if so how high should it be set?

This is one of the questions to be considered by the review of MMP and divergent views of submitters show it’s not one for which there is an easy answer that is likely to gain widespread support.

Graeme Edgler  argues that the party  threshold be reduced from 5% to 2.5% and Jordan Williams wants the one-seat rule thrown out but argues for the retention of the 5% threshold.

A decision on the threshold pits proportionality against stability.

If the threshold is too high it reduces proportionality which is one of MMP’s strengths; but if it is too low it increases the risk of parliamentary and more importantly, government instability by enabling too many wee parties to gain seats.

I think the stability argument is important and given how low the membership threshold is for parties – they need only 500 people signed up before they register – I wouldn’t want to see it any lower than 5%.

But given a seat gives a party representation I see merit in allowing the party of the seat-winner to bring in others on his or her coat tails to help maintain proportionality.

This does mean that a party that wins a seat could get more than one MP even though it won less than 5% of the vote when a party without a seat would get none although it might have had a similar or higher party vote but still doesn’t get to 5%.

But allowing the seat-winner’s party to get the proportion of seats for which voters gave their support gives a more proportional parliament and disallowing that just because other parties miss out would only lessen proportionality.

The first deadline for submissions on the review is this Thursday.

That is for those wishing to speak to their submissions. these will be presented from April 24th to May 18th.

If you just want to make a written submission the deadline is May 31st.

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