We had a really interesting discussion at one of this morning’s remit workshop on electoral reform. There was strong support for the idea that Labour should initiate a debate on how to improve the way the MMP system operates. I didn’t hear anyone speak in favour of a return to First Past the Post (FPP) and a number of people raised concerns about the Supplementary Member (SM) alternative that has been suggested.
We have now had 5 general elections under MMP, the first result in a National-led coalition, the second, third and fourth resulted in a Labour-led minority government, and the fifth has resulted in a National-led government. I think Kiwis understand MMP, and I think they are voting strategically. However I also agree that improvements can be made that will help to address some concerns. Among the things we discussed were:
- increasing the number of electorates and decreasing the number of list MPs
- making the party vote threshold apply without exception, which would mean that a party that wins an electorate seat but does not cross the threshold would not get extra list MPs
- entrenching the Maori option
- notifying those whose special vote was disallowed because they were not on the electoral roll that this had occurred and inviting them to enrol
There was also an interesting discussion on ‘waka jumping’ and whether proportionality should be maintained throughout the parliamentary term. While people generally felt that someone who ‘waka jumps’ from their party should not be allowed to remain in parliament, there was concern about the implications of trying to maintain proportionality in the case of by-elections.
Overall it was a really useful workshop. Personally I am strongly in favour of retaining MMP but I agree that some really useful changes can be made that will make the system better.