Sunday, 18 May 2008

MMP voting system up for debate?

New Zealand's MMP voting system could be up for debate, with the National Party promising a two-stage referendum on whether to retain MMP, if it leads the next Government.

MMP (the German form of Proportional Representation) was recommended by the Royal Commission on the Electoral System back in 1986.

However, it is worth noting that other recommendations by the Commission were ignored by sitting MPs... that separate Maori seats should be abolished (they were retained and increased), and that a threshold of 4% be set (5% was chosen), with that threshold being waived for "parties primarily representing Maori interests".

The 2-vote MMP system - or 'Mixed Member Proportional' - replaced FPP ('First Past the Post') voting system in New Zealand at the 1996 election, after two referendums.

In the first indicative referendum, voters were asked whether they wanted a change in the country's voting system, and were given four options... MMP, STV (Single Transferable Vote), SM (Supplementary Member), and PV (Preferential Vote).

A binding referendum followed at the 1993 General Election, with a simple choice between FPP and MMP.
Many voters believe they were promised a follow-up referendum, once MMP had been in place for a few elections. Unfortunately that was never the case... the only promise was for a review of MMP by a select committee.

That did take place (fairly quietly) in 2000-01, and not surprisingly resulted in MPs from all parties (except NZ First, which didn't want to be part of the review) voting to keep their job security intact.

But now National Party leader John Key says the party wants to hold a fresh two-stage binding referendum on MMP. The first in 2011 would give voters a choice between MMP or "anything else", while a second referendum would be a run-off between different voting systems.

NZ First's Winston Peters and the Green's Russell Norman are (also not surprisingly) against the idea, as MMP has largely worked in their favour.

The 'theory' of how MMP works... although NZ's
fixed Maori seats somewhat distort that reality

United Future's Peter Dunne is known to favour the STV system, and has raised concerns over the nature of the Maori "electorate seats", which reduce the true proportionality of Parliament, and could create an overhang of 4 seats this election, if the Maori Party wins all 7 Maori seats.

* Sunday Star Times: MMP future in doubt under National

* Kiwiblog: MMP Referendum

* Poneke's Weblog: Dunne’s call for MMP referendum wrong, but it is time for a royal commission on the Maori seats, Electoral Finance Act and a republic

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  1. Truth Seeker Says:

    National has not attempted to demonstrate any public demand for a referendum on MMP. How could they? Every recent polls has shown clear majority support for MMP. Even the vanity poll, funded by Hunt, Shirtcliffe and un-named others, last August showed MMP favoured and that twice as many people felt that MMP had been good for NZ as felt that it had been bad (37 good, 19 bad). The one attempt made to raise enough signatures for a non-binding referendum died for lack of interest.

    National clearly yearns for the days when 40% of voters could give them 100% of the power. They don't care much for democracy, clearly as they are happy to see the votes of hundreds of thousands of Kiwis rendered effectively worthless by restoring FPP.

    Once again the Right shows it is the enemy of democracy. I can just imagine how "freedom of speech" will be invoked to allow Hunt, Shirtcliffe and thier mates to spend millions to put their political vehicle - National - into power alone with minority voter support. Just like the old days.