No consensus, no change

One of the arguments used to urge people to vote for a change in the electoral system was that it was the only way we’d get a second vote.

They’ve been proved right.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says since there’s no consensus there will be no change.

In November last year, the Electoral Commission released its review of the Mixed Member Proportional system, estimated to have cost $1.6 million.

It recommended dropping the party vote threshold from 5% to 4% and scrapping the “coat-tails rule”, which would stop a party that won an electorate seat bringing in extra list MPs unless it reached the party vote threshold.

However Ms Collins says the changes would have been significant, and can not be done without widespread support.

On the coat-tails rule, Ms Collins told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report that five parties want to keep the status quo and three want it abolished, so there are major differences of opinion.

“Law changes in this country require 61 votes to get through Parliament. I don’t have 61 votes to bring forward the law changes suggested by the Electoral Commission. It’s as simple as that.”

It’s not just that law changes require 61 votes, it’s that major constitutional changes should either have the support of at least 75% of parliament or be put to the people in a referendum.

Had a majority of people voted for change in  2011 there would have been a review of MMP and we’d have got to vote between the modified version of the current system and the most preferred alternative next year.

A majority voted for the status quo, there’s been a review but there’s no consensus and so there will be no change before next year’s election.

It would have been better for the review to have been carried out before the referendum then we’d have all known exactly what we were voting for.

As it was some people who supported MMP might have supported it as it is and others as they’d hoped it would be after the review.

LabourGreen might decided to campaign on the issue and promise to implement the recommendations of the Electoral Commission.

But even if they win the election they won’t be able to claim a mandate for change.

They’ve put so much energy into saying National campaigning on the partial sale of a few state assets and winning the election didn’t give them a mandate, they won’t be able to claim campaigning on the electoral system and winning would give them a mandate.

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