MMP review honours public desire for fine tuning

The Electoral Commission has honoured New Zealanders’ desire to fine tune MMP but keep proportionality as the centrepiece of their electoral system, Campaign for MMP said today.

Campaign for MMP spokesperson Sandra Grey said in her group’s two year campaign they never detected a mood among the public for wholesale changes to MMP.

“When New Zealanders voted to keep MMP last year, they were broadly happy with their system, but they did expect that MMP would be fully reviewed to see how it could work even better,” she said.

“Our experience during the campaign was that voters did not appreciate the distortion of MMP by the one seat lifeboat rule that has featured with National and Act in Epsom and earlier with Labour and the Progressives in Wigram.”

“Our submission argued for a reduction of the party vote threshold to at least 4%, alongside ending the one electorate seat threshold. We argued for its reduction because we value proportional representation and believe as far as possible there should be few barriers to participation, and less wasted votes.”

Sandra Grey said Campaign for MMP noted electoral law expert Graeme Edgeler’s reference in his submission to the Council of Europe statement that well-established democracies could rarely justify a threshold higher than 3%.

“New Zealand is a mature democracy. We don’t have a legacy of ‘fringe’ parties trying to upset our democracy, and there is absolutely a legitimate debate about whether 4 % is a low enough threshold,” Sandra Grey said.

Sandra Grey said another key issue was dual candidacy, and she backed the Commission’s call for the status quo.

“Many of the issues around list versus electorate MPs have fallen by the wayside. None of the arguments for excluding list MPs from participating in by-elections or excluding all electorate MPs from returning to Parliament on the party list have withstood serious scrutiny.”

Background: Campaign for MMP’s page on the Review of MMP is here:


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