MMP and SM compared

Supplementary Member (SM) has all the same problems as First-Past-the-Post (FPP).  Governments are less accountable to voters. They can be elected and push through laws without the support of the majority of New Zealanders.

Under SM, your vote is more likely to be wasted, especially if you live in a “safe” seat and support a different party. That’s why the Royal Commission on the Electoral System did not recommend SM.

Below is our comparison of the current MMP system and SM, and further down are frequently asked questions.  Downloads for both of these documents are at the base of the page.


Frequently asked questions:

What is SM?
SM combines two distinct systems: First-Past-the-Post (FPP) to elect local MPs and Proportional Representation (PR) to elect some List MPs. You have two votes under SM. One vote for your local MP and one party vote for the list MPs.

What did the Royal Commission on the Electoral System say about SM?
The Royal Commission said that SM “is not a proportional system”. A proportional system is where a party gets the same number of seats in Parliament as their share of the vote. If a party gets a quarter of the votes it will get a quarter of the seats in Parliament.

Is SM proportional?
No, three quarters of the seats in Parliament (90 out of 120) will be elected under FPP. There will be 90 individual contests; a candidate could win a seat with under a third of the vote. Most voters could waste their votes in these electorate contests.

Won’t the 30 supplementary seats make SM proportional?

No, proportional representation will only apply to this small group of 30 seats, not all 120 seats as under MMP. If a party gets 10% of the party vote they will only get 3 seats, not the 12 they would get under MMP.

Won’t the supplementary seats help small parties?   
No, it will make things worse. The main parties, in addition to winning most of the electorate seats, will get the bulk of the 30 supplementary seats from their supporters’ party vote. The Royal Commission said “SM is unfair to minor parties.”

Will SM lead to single party government?
Yes, since most MPs will be elected under FPP, the large parties are more likely to have a majority of the seats in Parliament. There will be a return to the pattern of single party governments.

Will SM mean a return to ‘safe seats’?

Yes, since most of the MPs will be elected for the 90 electorate seats, the pattern of National and Labour safe seats will continue. Under MMP you are always sure that your party vote will count even if you don’t support the winning candidate in your electorate. Under SM you can lose out in a choice of electorate MP and have a devalued party vote to boot.

Will SM mean a return to ‘marginal seats’?   

Yes, a few seats will determine whether we have a government dominated by one or other of the major parties. So people who live in Waimakariri or New Plymouth (traditional marginal seats) will have a more valuable vote than people who live in safe seats like North Shore or Christchurch East. Under MMP your vote has the same value wherever you live in New Zealand.

Factsheet: Quick-Guide-SM
Image: MMPvSM


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