Election returns


Candidate returns and registered promoter expense returns for last year’s election and referendum have been made public.

A summary of data disclosed in each candidate return is now available here.

The information includes amounts disclosed for donations, contributions to donations, anonymous donations, and overseas donations, and election expenses for newspaper advertising, radio and television advertising, internet advertising, and other forms of advertising.

• Candidate returns organised by electorate are available here.

• Candidate returns organised by party are available here.

Only registered promoters who spent more than $100,000 on election or referendum expenses during the regulated period (which started on 26 August and ended on 25 November 2011) were required to file a return. Copies of the registered promoters’ returns are available here.

Only four organisations filed promoter returns: Campaign for MMP spent $156,568.61 and Vote for Change spent $79,047.66 on the referendum; the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) and Public Service Association (PSA) spent $280,100.86 and $196,368.34 respecitively on the election.

Any thoughts on which party or parties the two unions were promoting and whether they thought it was money well-spent?

How would Kate have voted?


The Campaign for MMP reckons Kate Sheppard would be backing MMP in November’s referendum.

They give several reasons for that including that MMP has brought more women into parliament.

There is no doubt there are more women in parliament now than there was prior to 1996 when we had a First Past the Post electoral system. But there are also more women in other positions more commonly held by men in the past so some of the change is due to changes in society rather than the electoral system.

Some of the increase is is due to parties deliberately putting women in winnable places on their lists which are a feature of MMP. Some, perhaps even most are their on merit. But there is also an element of tokenism and some are there not because of their skills and abilities but because of their gender.

However, a lack of skill hasn’t always stopped some men getting into parliament so maybe that’s another sign of closing the gender gap – that women no longer have to be better than men to get a job.

The question then is, how many of the women who are in parliament would be there under another system?

Other systems with smaller or no list would provide more opportunities for women to seek selection in electorates.

Anthony Hubbard looked at the number of women in parliament and concluded it has plateaued.

The reasons for that are no doubt complex. Kiwiblog says research into it should consider:

    1. How many men and women indicate their interest in being candidates to a party
    2. How many go on to contest a selection
    3. How many win a selection
    4. How many then get elected to Parliament

Another point to consider is women’s participation in other occupations, if there are barriers there and whether there are other  barriers which are peculiar to politics.

Research would also have to look at not just how many men and women seeking to be MPs drop out at each stage but why.

Kate Sheppard was campaigning for women to get the vote not to be MPs, that hurdle came later and which electoral system she would support is a moot point.

However, one aspect of MMP which puts women off seeking selection which she might have considered if voting in the referendum is the larges size of electorates.

I know of only one man but several women who were seriously considering standing for National in large rural electorates. They decided servicing huge geographical areas would put too much strain on their families and pulled out.

One said to me, it was hard enough combining life as an MP with her role as a mother in a small electorate she wouldn’t even consider it in a bigger one.

If Kate was voting in the referendum she might be just as likely to opt for a system with smaller electorates which make it easier to combine work as an MP with family life.

At least some of the women who are in parliament on the list might also be there as electorate MPs under a system with more and smaller electorates.

Dump MMP or change it?


A media release from the Business Council for Sustainable Development says a poll shows most of us support changing from MMP.

Thirty eight per cent say they will vote to change to a different voting system and 32% to retain the current MMP one while 26% remain undecided, according to a new nationwide ShapeNZ survey of 2,261 New Zealanders.

When the undecided are invited to specify which option they most lean towards at present, the desire for change becomes firmer. The country then votes  46.6% for change from MMP  37.5% to retain the current MMP system.

After applying leanings, the number of undecided falls from 26% to 11.9%.

The BCSD concludes its release by saying:

The Business Council does not have a policy view on MMP reform. It commissions ShapeNZ to provide the public with an opportunity to contribute to policy making.

The Campaign for MMP, as it’s name implies, does have a policy view on MMP and its take on the same poll is that a modified MMP would be broadly supported.

“Campaign for MMP recognises that many people who support MMP want to change it in some way, and we have strongly supported the government’s initiative to commit to an independent review of MMP.”

“The ShapeNZ survey shows people regard the performance of MMP as better to the old First Past the Post. We think most people don’t want to dump MMP, they want to make it better.”

“The critical message that needs to get out in the lead up to next year’s referendum is that a vote for MMP in 2011 is a vote for setting up a process to improve it,” Sandra Grey said.

This is cart before horse territory.

Voting for a system because you want to change it comes with the risk that you won’t like the changes.

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