Sunday, December 03, 2006

why MMP is better than FPP

Sir Humphreys blogger Andrei thinks MMP sucks becuse it reduces the accountability an MP has to its electors, and is concerned that one electorate will have four MPs next year.

Well I like MMP - and I understand how it works.

For one, we dont elect a government - we elect a parliament, and the Parliament decides based on the proportion of electoral votes who will be the Government.

Thirty years ago, MPs in our two parliamentary parties were predominantly white, male and over 50. In 2006, we have eight parties represented. MPs are younger, about a third are women and 21 MPs are Maori. The National leaders are both under 50, and five parties have women who are in the top two in their lists.

If we had FPP, we would have no Maori in Parliament outside the Maori Party, nor would NZ First or the Greens be in Parliament. It is worth noting that just one party has made a first appearance in Parliament under an MMP election: Act.

With FPP a party can get fewer votes that the opposition in a two horse race and still become the government, which is what happened in the 1978 and 1981 elections, when Labour got more votes than National but ended up in the opposition - with 11 seats down in 1981. MMP pretty much changed that. That year Social credit got about 20.2 percent of the vote and just two MPs. Contrast that to Nationals 2002 performance: 20.8 percent or so and 27 MPs.So MMP reflects what voters, as a collective want, which is why most people supported MMP in 1993, even though many were not aware that the list vote was the most important.

In the 1984 election, Bob Jones' New Zealand Party got 12.3 percent of the vote and insead of getting seats, it assisted in ousting Muldoon from power, and from further running roughshod over the electorate. All the minor parties were doing was influencing who would be the Government, while not having a say in the House. MMP changed that.

And in 1990, National got 69 percent of the seats with just 48 percent of the vote. The following election The Alliance got 18.3 percent of the vote and two seats, an election National won despite 65 percent of voters voting for other parties. Had that been an MMP election, The Alliance would have got 23 seats, four short of the amount National got in 2002 - which is what the voters voted for. So lets put this into perspective, shall we?

Sure, its true that Ohariu-Belmont will have four MPs in Parliament who contested that electorate in 2005. Heres the results of 2005:

CHAUVEL, Charles LAB 9,142
CROSS, Colin Linden LIB 82
DUNNE, Peter UFNZ 16,844
MANU, Timothy NZF 433
ROY, Heather ACT 744
SANDYS, Elspeth Somerville JAP 24
CROSS, Colin Linden LIB 82
SAPSFORD, Roland GP 1,877
SHANKS, Katrina May NAT 7,329

It is worth noting that most people in the electorate didnt vote for Peter Dunne - in fact the combined vote of Katrina Shanks, Charles Chauvel and Heather Roy was bigger than the vote for Dunne, and it is only a matter of semantics that they will all be in Parliament in 2007 and all four were contesting the same electorate. Two of them are in because of resignations because they were next in off their respective lists. Anyway, didn't Wellington Central have about three or four MPs the year Prebble was Act leader?

I like MMP, its much more representative - both in select committees and reflects the wishes of the wider electorate. However I would like to see a better balance between rural and urban list seats, and by-elections for list resignations like Sutton and Brash just as we have to do for electoral seat exits.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

What's this bullshit about no Maori MPs if there were FFP?

Dave said...

Adolf, you mean FPP? And I said No Maori MP outside the Maori Party... as all Maori in Parliament outside the Maori Party are list MPs.

andrei said...

Never heard of Sir Apirana Ngata for one

or have you forgotten that Winston Peters first entered Parliament as National MP for Hunua.

No Maori MPs sheesh they have always existed mostly Maori seats to be sure but also in General seats under FPP

SubversNZ said...

I like MMP because it protects us from majoritarian dictatorship. The reason so many of the right hate it is because they still haven't figured out how to make it work for them yet.

Dave said...

Andrei, Andrei, Andrei...... Yes of course I have heard of Sir Apirana Ngata, Sandra Lee, et al. There have been Maori MPs in General electorates.
It's just that in 2005, all Maori who stood for General seats did not get elected, and the only way some ( like Winston Peters) got in was through the list.

That was my point. No list, no Maori MP's outside the Maori Party in this current Parliament. Had 2005 been a FPP election, we would probably have nad no Maori in Parliament outside the Maori Party.

Who knows, we may not even have had a Maori Party....

Ashley Clarkson said...

"Who knows, we may not even have had a Maori Party...."

Most likely not - Single Member Plurality systems trend towards two parties because of the inherent nature of gaining a victory (Duverger's Law). The Maori Party may not have gained the necessary votes, as many who split their votes may have viewed the "protest vote" as too risky, especially given that an FPP system would see us with many more electorates, thus increasing the chance of a National Party win (a lot of Labour's support traditionally is concentrated in city seats, where they win in huge landslides. National's tends to be more spread).