Public back MMP, but a narrow minority is mobilising to take it away

A new poll showing the public back MMP affirms that voters want to retain a real choice in how they elect their representatives, MMP campaigners say.

Today’s UMR poll shows 50% of New Zealanders back MMP.  Support for MMP is even higher, at 60%, when supporters of MMP are added to supporters who want to keep MMP and make some adjustments to it.

This follows December’s TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll, also with 50% support for MMP, and January’s NZ Herald Digipoll with 51% support for keeping MMP.

“New Zealanders clearly want to retain a real choice in how they elect MPs.  They don’t want their votes to be wasted, as they were before the public switched to MMP,” Sandra Grey, Campaign for MMP spokesperson said.

“Voters who want to make MMP work even better will get the chance to do so. If a majority of people vote to keep MMP, it automatically triggers an independent review of the system, so we can have a fresh look at how MMP is working but not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

She said while Campaign for MMP was buoyed by the level of public support for MMP, there was still a big job ahead for the many New Zealanders who support a fair electoral system.

We know that a tiny minority are organising a campaign to promote Supplementary Member (SM), a discredited electoral system that sustains the worst aspects of First Past the Post.”

“If we see a repeat of the 1990s, these narrow interests will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in negative campaigning and in promoting SM, despite SM recording only 3% in today’s UMR poll and only 5.6% the last time it was formally tested, at the 1992 referendum.”

“Under SM the votes of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders would be wasted, as people’s choice of party would only be allocated to 30 lists seats.”

“MMP is our system.  We chose it in 1993.  New Zealanders need to make sure that narrow interests don’t try and take it away,” Sandra Grey said.

Note: the UMR survey is here: http://umr.co.nz/Reports/MMP_Referendum_%28May-11%29.pdf

Background on New Zealand referendum
New Zealand will vote on whether or not to keep MMP, at a referendum that runs alongside the general election on November 26.

Voters will be asked two questions.  First, whether or not they want to keep MMP or change to another system, and secondly, if there was a change, which of the four other voting systems would they prefer.

If most voters pick MMP it will automatically trigger an independent review of it, where people can make suggestions on modifications to MMP.

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