Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

It’s time for another referendum on MMP

Time for MMP referendum

By Peter Dunne
Leader, UnitedFuture
Thursday, 13 March 2008


It’s time for another referendum on MMP.

Even though there was no provision for another referendum following the change to the electoral system in 1996, most people still think there was, and are aggrieved it has never happened.

When MMP was reviewed in 2001 I was one of the minority of MPs on the review committee who voted for another referendum. As the system was established by the people by referendum in 1993, its confirmation or otherwise should similarly be determined by the people in another referendum, and not by the politicians.

Recent events have thrust the issue into prominence once again.

We have seen MPs defeated in their electorates returning to Parliament via the party list. There has been the list MP, elected solely on the basis of his party crossing the threshold by virtue of winning an electorate seat, claiming to remain in Parliament after deserting his party.

Then there was Richard Long’s column (10 March) arguing that Labour stood to gain most from any abolition of the Maori seats. This followed on from National’s apparent unwillingness to confirm its 2005 policy of abolishing those seats by 2014 and the extraordinary threats to civil order from the Maori Party should any government even consider doing so.

Yet the question of the future of the Maori seats has been on the table ever since the Royal Commission on the electoral system recommended their abolition way back in 1986. Instead, we have almost doubled the number since then.

Issues like these are examples of MMP working out in practice to be a little different from what was intended. But there is another issue looming that has the potential to be the greatest manipulation of MMP yet.

The premise behind MMP is that parties get representation in Parliament in proportion to the party votes they receive – 10% of the party vote means 10% of the seats in Parliament. If a party wins more electorate seats than its party vote entitles it to, then it keeps those electorate seats, creating what is called the “overhang.” (At the last election the Maori Party won four electorate seats, but its party vote was equivalent to three seats, so the size of Parliament increased by one.)

If all the current polls are right, at this year’s election, the Maori Party could win all seven Maori seats, but its party vote is running at about the level of three seats, thus Parliament’s overhang might increase to four.

In that event, the number of seats required to form a government would jump from 61 at present to 63, thus manipulating the election outcome. To take the current polls at their word, National could end up as the largest party, with possibly more than 50% of the party vote.

With support partners it may well be able to cross the 61 seat barrier, but could fall short of crossing the higher barrier 63 seat the substantial overhang causes, because it cannot come to a deal with the Maori Party.

Therefore it is unable to govern.

That bizarre outcome would be both contrary to the expressed will of the public and completely undemocratic.

I do not criticise Maori for their astuteness in adapting well to MMP but I do question whether those who voted for MMP really expected the Maori seats to end up being used this way, as a potential permanent veto on who governs, regardless of the public will.

Surely, it is another reason for a fresh referendum on MMP, including the future of the Maori seats? Such a referendum could occur as early as 2010, with its results implemented for the 2014 General Election.

It’s time.


Words: 610


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Bernie Sanders’ Presidential Bid

Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic nomination is taking on an air of inevitability, and that likelihood has been met with elation by some people, and feelings of dread in others. Is the Vermont senator the party’s best hope of motivating and leading an inspirational movement to defeat Donald Trump in November, or would he be the easiest opponent of them all for Trump to stigmatise, isolate and defeat? Is Bernie Sanders a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform America, or a once- in-a -generation calamity who is likely to entrench in power the worst President in American history? No pressure, people. More>>

First Published on Werewolf here


 

NZ Government: 18,400 Children Lifted Out Of Poverty

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed new reporting showing the Coalition Government is on track to meet its child poverty targets, with 18,400 children lifted out of poverty as a result of the Families Package... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Our Unreal Optimism About Coronavirus

At this week’s Chinese New Year celebrations, PM Jacinda Ardern was resolutely upbeat that business with China would soon bounce back to normal – better than ever, even - once the coronavirus epidemic has been brought under control. To Ardern, ... More>>

ALSO:

Vaping: Government To Regulate Products

No sales to under-18-year-olds No advertising and sponsorship of vaping products and e-cigarettes No vaping or smokeless tobacco in smokefree areas Regulates vaping product safety comprehensively, - including devices, flavours and ingredients Ensure ... More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On The Political Donations Scandals
Even paranoids have real enemies. While there has been something delusionary about the way New Zealand First has been living in denial about its donations scandal, one can sympathise with its indignation about Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges being among its chief accusers. More>>

ALSO:

UN Expert: NZ Housing Crisis Requires Bold Human Rights Response

This is a press statement from UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing at the end of her 10-day visit to New Zealand. The Government of New Zealand has recognized that the country is facing a housing crisis, said Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur ... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels