MMP makes it harder to vote ’em out

November 1, 2008

One of the strengths of the First Past the Post voting system was the ability to get rid of unpopular politicians and governments.

It is much harder to do that under MMP.

A candidate can lose a seat but still get back into parliament on the list.

A party could lose a lot of support, it might not have the most seats in parliament but it could still cobble together a coalition and carry on leading a government.

A survey last week showed a majority of people thought the party which had the most support should lead the next government.

That didn’t always happen under FPP where at least twice National won more seats but fewer votes than Labour and it doesn’t have to happen under MMP.

A government could be formed by the silver and bronze medalists and some also-rans. Some people think that’s okay and if all those parties can bargain their way to a mix that gives them a total of more than 50% of the seats they’ll be right.

New Zealand is one of the oldest democracies in the world so whatever happens next Saturday, like it or not, we’ll accept it.

But if the result is seen as unfair it will help those of us who want to put MMP to a referendum because one of that system’s big weaknesses is that it ‘s much more difficult to vote an unpopular government out.

Compulsory voting?

September 26, 2008

The Herald has a readers poll asking if voting should be compulsory.

So far 467 people have voted, 56% of whom say yes.

I’m a definite no because while you can lead people to democracy but you can’t force them to participate.

Democracy gives you the right to vote and freedom enables you to choose to not use it.

56 more sleeps …

September 13, 2008

… until election day when we can celebrate that we live in a democrary and that whatever the outcome it will be accepted as the will of the people and the sun will still rise in the east.

Poneke explains it here.

Speaker assists Act election campaign

August 26, 2008

The Labour Party is in disarray tonight after Speaker Margaret Wilson admitted she has been assisting Rodney Hide with Act’s election campaign.

“It started on August the first when Rodney provoked me into cracking a joke. Everyone laughed and I liked it and people liked me. It was all such fun and I wanted more of it,” she said.

“I realised then it wasn’t going to happen with Labour in power, you see we’re not allowed to laugh. Helen says so and Heather makes sure we do what we’re told. But I liked laughing, I’m sick of being the bossy one, no-one likes, it’s lonely.

“That’s when I made the decision to help Rodney’s election campaign and that’s why I did what I did today.

“I kept saying I was sorry but I wasn’t really, because I knew that if I didn’t let Rodney ask his question and then sent him out he’d get all that wonderful publicity and Act would get more votes and join National in government and then we’ll all have so much more fun in the next parliament. Not that I’ll be there but I’ll still watch it on TV and be able to see Rodney. He’ll be a Minister and all because I helped him.

“It was going to be our little secret, but I had to come out about it because everyone’s picking on me. They think I was wrong  and they’re saying nasty things  because they don’t understand  what I was doing.

“Of course I wasn’t letting Winston Peters get away with anything fishy or hide behind standing orders or parliamentary privilege; and it had nothing at all to do with needing his votes to pass legislation for the Emissions Trading Scheme; and I definitely wasn’t being unfair to Rodney.

“That would be showing bias, it would bring the house into disrepute, goodness me, it might even prompt people to suggest I was incompetent and cast aspersions on my impartiality, then they’d start going on about freedom of speech and democracy. And we couldn’t have that just because they didn’t realise I was joking.”

Labour leader Helen Clark could not be reached for comment but her spokesperson Heather Simpson said she thought is was a hoot.

Hat Tips: Keeping Stock, The Hive, Roarprawn, Half Done,

State funding problem, not solution

July 31, 2008

Brian Rudman thinks the solution to the Peters debacle would be state funding of political parties.

What does it say about our democracy when the big two political parties – and some of the minnows – are dependent for much of their funding on private handouts from a few rich, anonymous businessmen. ..

Last year’s Electoral Finance Act has done away with the secret slush funds. Its big shortcoming is it failed to provide the political parties with an alternative source of funding.

But it hasn’t stopped parties getting money from their members which is the best way to ensure they stay in touch with their supporters.

Democracy is surely the loser if parties don’t have the money to develop and promote new policy. And be able to critique others.

The problem this year is not that parties have no money, it’s that the EFA prevents them from using it.

In 1986, the Royal Commission on the Electoral System recommended a form of state funding very similar to that already in existence in Australia.

Noting the increasing cost of the political process, the commission said “too great a reliance” on outside funders like trade unions and corporations would “be detrimental to our democracy and might … lead to corruption of our political process … ” Nothing’s changed.

In Australia, any political donation over $10,500 has to be declared by donor and receiver. State funding is provided based on votes cast. At last year’s federal election the payout was $2.70 a vote cast. It’s a cheap price to pay to keep the millionaires at bay, and democracy working.

But rather than being the solution, state funding would create a problem by distancing politicians from their supporters.

Democracy requires participation of the people and that would be handicapped if we hand over  responsibility for funding parties to the taxpayer.

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