The one electorate seat threshold for the allocation of list seats should be abolished.
• The party vote threshold for the allocation of list seats should be lowered to 4%.
• Candidates should continue to be able to stand both in an electorate and on a party list at general elections.
• List MPs should continue to be able to contest by-elections.
• Political parties should continue to have responsibility for the composition and ranking of candidates on their party lists.
• The provision for overhang seats should be abolished for parties that do not cross the party vote threshold.
• On the basis of current information it would be prudent to identify 76 electorate seats (in a 120 seat Parliament) as the point at which the risk to proportionality from insufficient list seats becomes unacceptable. New Zealand is unlikely to reach that point before 2026.
• The gradual erosion of list seats relative to electorate seats risks undermining the diversity of representation in Parliament. Parliament should review this matter.
The lower threshold would make it easier for smaller parties to enter parliament without winning an electorate.
Proponents of this will argue that it makes parliament more representative. However, I question how representative a group which requires only 500 members before it can register as a party really is.
Lowering the threshold also increases the tail-wagging-dog ability and increase the possibility of less stable governments.
Taking away the ability for parties which win a seat to bring in other MPs in proportion to their vote decreases proportionality. However, as this is one aspect of MMP which most people object to, it is likely to be one of the most popular recommendations.
Removing the provision for overhang seats caps the size of parliament at 120, reducing the number of list MPs if a party wins more electorates than it’s entitled to by its party vote.
These are small changes which won’t bring big improvements to MMP.
Justice Minister Judith Collins is encouraging people to comment on the proposed changes.
Submissions on the Proposals Paper close at 5pm on 7 September.
The Electoral Commission will then consider this feedback and report back to the Government by 31 October 2012 with final recommendations on whether any changes to MMP are necessary or desirable.
I wonder if the public would have voted against change had they known this was what they were likely to get?