MMP was supposed to help women enter parliament but has it?
Scrubone has a graph which shows the increase in the number of women MPs has slowed since MMP was introduced:
Pre the 1980s, clearly there was an upward trend for many years followed by some stagnation. But after 1978, numbers of women MPs shot up from 5% to 22%.
After the first MMP election however, something strange happened. The improvement has been much slower. Slower than the pre-MMP, and vastly slower than the 80′s and early 90′s trend. So things are getting better, but slowly – that’s point 1.
Now, think about this. Those big gains were made when all MPs were electorate MPs.
Scrubone also found that not only had the increase in the number of women MPs slowed, it was even slower for electorates.
There’s another, very obvious conclusion that can be taken from exactly the same data. MMP has meant that parties don’t need to take seriously the idea of equality anymore. Why bother to get a wide range of candidates in seats when you can just promote them in the list? That to me is a should be listed as a negative.
So is MMP really better for women’s representation in parliament? I see a reduction in the rate of increase that could hardly be more clear, plus a change in behaviour in that women are pushed from electorates into the list.
Is that really progress?
He’s got graphs to show that too . He worked on percentages so this trend has nothing to do with there being fewer electorate seats since MMP was introduced.
MMP has made electorates bigger geographically which makes them more difficult to serve and much harder to balance work and family responsibilities. That could put women off standing, but women MPs hold some of the biggest electorates.
Rahui Katene is MP for Te Tai Tonga (161,443 square kilometres), Tariana Turia is MP for Te Tai Hauauru (35,825 sq kms), Jacqui Dean holds Waitaki (34,888 sq km), Anne Tolley holds East Coast (13,649), Nanaia Mahuta holds Hauraki-Waikato ( 12,580 sq kms), Louise Upston holds Taupo (9,101 sq kms), Amy Adams is MP for Selwyn (7,854 sq kms) and Jo Goodhew is MP for Rangitata (6,826 sq kms).
Something which may partly explain why more women are on lists than in electorates is that only three parties, National, Labour and the Maori Party, hold electorate seats so all Act and Green MPs are list MPs.
But that doesn’t explain why the increase in the number of women in parliament has slowed under MMP.
The may be other factors other than the electoral system which have impacted on the number of women MPs since 1996. But MMP was supposed to make parliament more representative and it hasn’t lived up to that promise when it comes to gender balance.