Sunday, September 23, 2007

Will National have the most friends in 2008?

Well, it's about one year out from the election and it is time to do another post on MMP. Just Left and No Right Turn have done posts on MMP which are worth reading, and although Carter gets more comments on his blog than I do on mine, I get more than No Right Turn (for reasons which are obvious), and get enough readers who read both their blogs to do a post - even though they don't comment much here. So this post is in light of Government formation.

Some people know that we don't vote for a Government in this country, we vote for a Parliament and certain members of Parliament and their staff decide who the Government is to be once we have decided the composition of Parliament. Some say that MMP is undemocratic as we don't directly have a say on who forms the Government. Some say it is the party with the most votes who is the Government - that is blatantly false. Never has been, even under FPP.

Under FPP it was the party with the most seats that got hold of power, but that party didn't necessarily have the most votes - as happened in 1978 and also in 1981 when National got fewer votes than Labour but had an 11 seat majority. Some believe that with MMP, the party with the most seats have an automatic right to form the Government. That's incorrect as well. You don't have to be the party with the most seats or the most votes under MMP to be the main party in a colation Government.

But MMP is a lot more democratic that a system where a party gets 20 percent of the votes and just two MPs - as what happend in 1978 - or when National gets in power despite 65 percent of the population voting for other parties - as happened in 1993. Had 1993 been an MMP election the Alliance would have got 23 seats (a handful of seats fewer than National got in 2002), and NZ First would have got 10 seats instead of two.

It is usually the party with the most friends in Parliament who collectively have more seats than everyone else who form a MMP Government - and these friends - ie all MP's of that party - not only don't have to be in Government, they don't even have to be on the same side of the left/right political divide. Therefore opinion polls are not about which party those polled thinks will "win the election", they are about which party will have the most friends in Parliament with the most seats after the election to form a government.

One Green commentator on Carter's blog stated that he voted Greens because he wanted them to have representation in Government. He appeared to forget that Greens currently have two government spokekpeople - for NZ Made and Energy Eficiency, but under FPP wouldn`t even be in Parliament. But if greenies vote Green to get Government representation, will they be happy to have a representative in Buy NZ Made under a National Government, possibly with a deal that they abstain on confidence and supply?

It's not beyond possibility, is it?


Idiot/Savant said...

If the numbers fall a certain way, one of the Greens or maori Pary will likely be forced into a support agreement with National to ensure that there is a government. I don't expect either party would be particularly happy with such a prospect, and I wouldn't expect it to last - National still hasn't got used to MMP thinking and the compromise it entails, and is not going to be able to wrap its head around not having a majority in parliament for legislation.

The Maori party are the real kingmakers, and while they incline left policywise, could go either way. So that will be the interesting game to watch.

Evad Rehtona said...

But MMP is a lot more democratic that a system where a party gets 20 percent of the votes and just two MPs - as what happend in 1978

1981, and it was 21 per cent.

Dave said...

Yes, you`re correct, in 1981 they got 20.1 pecent and '78 they got 16 percent, and if my memory serves me well just one seat which was even more skewed. Between 1954 and 1981, Social Credit held just three seats despite getting an average of 11 percent of the vote during the entire period. No minor party has held such a high vote over such a long period since. The Greens are more likely to get over the 5% than the Maori party, who may hold at least 4 seats in 2008. Greens suporters need to realise that in 2008 they are more likely to "be represented in Government" under National than Labour unless something dramatic happens in the polls.

Evad Rehtona said...

And at the 1978 and 1981 elections, Labour got more votes than National but National got more seats.

Not to mention what happened with the Jones party in 1984 -- 13 per cent and no seats, though Dunne (who was a Labour candidate in those days) won Karori thanks to Jones standing there.

It was all this skewing of the vote and unfair outcomes under FPP that created to increasing demands for proportional representation and eventually to the 1986 royal commission.

Social Credit was to the forefront of calling for proportional representation (and Values to an extent) but ironically when it came it was the German system, MMO, rather than the Irish system Socred always campaigned for, STV.

Personally I preferred STV as it gives real power to voters, whereas with MMP too much power goes to the party machines.

I well recall a German woman expressing astonishment to me in the 1990s that anyone would want her country's voting system!