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[personal profile] grassangel

Reading the five-minute submission page on the MMP review submissions always makes me terribly anxious because there are people asking for ridiculous thresholds (10 percent!) and that the only representation that should be in Parliament is electorate. It's all overrun by (apparent) FPP supporters, with a smattering of balanced viewpoints and few that support more diversity in Parliament.
The full submission page is slightly better though. 

There is a horrible amount of people espousing that the threshold should be raised to 7.5% or even 10% to "keep minority parties holding all the power" and that a strong government needs decisive power not hampered by the opinions of smaller parties in order to act in the best interests of New Zealand.
No, no, no, no, no. I hate when John Key says he acts 'on behalf of the country' because 'New Zealand voted for him' whenever he makes a decision, as, in last year's election, the National party got 47% of the vote. 47% of half of the voting population voted for National. Only ~25% of the voting public actually elected him to act for New Zealand. Sure, one million people is a heck of a lot of people, but there are three million who didn't. No matter how you try to spin it three million is still vastly more than one million.
And yet that three million are the ~minority~.

No. As Voltaire, someone from the Bible and Spiderman said: With great power comes great responsibility.
And the responsibility of a representative, democratic government is to represent its people and to listen to them. Not swan off and do their own thing once the keys are handed to them.

How is 47% of the vote not a majority when the nearest party is at 30%? It's not an absolute majority, but that's not a bad thing. Absolute majority is like asking one person in a group of ten what they want for pizza and then only ordering that pizza when no one else likes the seafood supreme.
There is no 'vocal minority' in Government. A 5% party vote is a 5% party vote when it comes to voting on bills. The Government is not the internet, where the person who shouts loudest gets the most attention. It works by having numbers, discussions and evidence. Not a loud voice.

Minor parties having too much power? Certainly not in the day-to-day running of Government. If only three people are supporting a bill, then it's not going to get through. Sure, taxes are wasted by putting through a bill that has no hope of passing, but I'd rather waste money than have a bill put through that has a detrimental effect on New Zealand.
Around election time? Yeah, they do. If you have an opposing or mainstream political ideology. Coalitions aren't bad, it's the political equivalent of chipping in to help build someone's garden shed. Except, you know, it is to help run the country smoothly rather than DIY.

Perhaps they're afraid of ickle one-person parties getting in? Those parties are not exactly going to be major movers. Party votes on bills aren't going to affected by .8% of the House's total vote. Conscience votes? Those are decided by the personal views of the MP and while one vote can change the entire outcome, that's not exactly a new thing. (Oh, the furore over the legalisation of prostitution which passed because of one person, Ashraf Choudhary, abstaining to vote for or against. There were people ranting about how, knowing that it would have been a very close outcome, he should have just voted for if they wanted it to pass, or that he should have voted against so that it would be deadlocked in a tie.)

Then there's this weird notion that 5% of the vote (110000 votes, if using the last election data on voter turnout) is somehow less representative than 1 electorate MP being voted in (12000 in Christchurch Central, where the vote was almost even split between two candidates to 21000 in Tauranga, with a mode of ~16000 around the country). A 1% threshold would mean that parties could get in on 22000 votes all over the country. A 3% threshold would bring that number up to 66000, or greater than the number of eligible voters in each electorate.

Everyone is entitled to representation. You have yours, now let me have mine.

Especially when it comes to representation via electorate MP. I voted for mine because I liked his party's policies better than all the other candidates and I didn't want a National MP and the Green party candidate is pretty much there to raise awareness of their party. If I only had an electorate vote though I would've ticked that box for the Green candidate. Because at least the Greens even think of inclusiveness.
Although the MP is only 30-something, seems to have a sense of humour as evidenced by liking Yes, Minister on Facebook, has a twitter and probably would respond personally if I showed up at his office or sent him a nice email.

So the amount of responses that do advocate a higher threshold and less list MPs is rather alarming for me. Because these are likely the people who supported National – who think it's a good idea to raise classroom sizes to 30 students per teacher to increase performance despite New Zealand already getting the best results compared to pay and consulted no teachers, former or current on this issue; who think it's a good idea to punish business-minded Kiwi kids who want to ask for a tax rebate, who think that Economic Development and Science & Innovation ministries can easily share resources. Who like the guy who sees marriage equality as a non-issue, yet refuses to change policy because there is 'no pressure for it'; who like him, the city banker, over the opposition's born-and-bred New Zealand farmer.
A choice between mustard yellow and puce as a favourite colour is not a fucking choice.

There are some absolute gems though by people who understand that democracy is supposed to represent the population, that thirty thousand people is a huge amount of people who don't deserve to go unheard, that the past 6 elections have provided sufficiently expedient Governments and that a few seats here and there aren't going to change things that much, and, most importantly of all, have fucking evidence that all of these things should be kept or remedied because they are good for New Zealand.

The submissions list is still depressingly low on recognisably female or non-Pakeha names though.

And now to decide if I want to badger the Greens party about their stance on other non-heterosexual, non-monogamous identities, and if 'potential parents' applies to everyone capable of having children in any capacity being allowed access to birth control. There is a policy point about infertility on their population policy, but nothing about reproductive health on the Women's policy page. Which really should be cross-referenced with the Health policy page.
Now it's really bothering me they don't have a statement along the lines of "endorsing the World Health Organisation's statement that a women has a right to safe and legal abortion". Really bothering me. Even if it is a case of "Please update your policy pages!".

Date: 2012-05-31 05:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A choice between mustard yellow and puce as a favourite colour is not a fucking choice.
This. This is why we must never return to a two-party system.

Also, I now want to talk at you about everything I've learned in my current course on the workings of electoral systems. Because I have lots of nerdy data and statistics that I think you might enjoy.

I say go ahead and badger the Greens. Jan Logie is their spokesperson on women's and rainbow issues and human rights, Kevin Hague does health and rainbow issues, and Kennedy Graham is their population spokesperson. Jan spoke at the SlutWalk last year and this year and seems like a really lovely person.

Date: 2012-06-01 01:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Feel free to ramble at me. Unless you'd rather chatmessage in some other format.

And okay! I'll slowly start drafting an inquiry for Jan Logie which I'll crib bits from for the other two because I'd feel guilty about sending three people the same thing.

Date: 2012-06-02 01:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OK. I can help you with the inquiry if you like.

Random electoral system info #1: there are lots of different ways to convert party votes into seats in a proportional system. Because just dividing the total number of seats by the percentage of votes gives you nasty remainders and things to deal with. NZ uses the Sainte-Lague system, where you divide all parties' votes by 1,3,5,7... and give seats to the largest quotients until you've filled all the seats (I illustrated this in my submission). Sainte-Lague makes it pretty easy for minor parties to get in, but some of the other formulae don't.
The d'Hondt system is similar to Sainte-Lague except that the divisors are 1,2,3,4, etc. This means that larger parties will get a larger number of high quotients and tends to leave minor parties somewhat under-represented. Nevertheless it's used in a lot of countries. A lot of countries also use a modified version of Sainte-Lague where the first divisor is 1.4 instead of 1 - this also creates a slightly higher barrier for minor parties.
There are other formulae such as the Droop quota, the Hare quota, and the Imperiali quota. These operate somewhat differently.
The different formulae means that in countries without a legal threshold it's possible to calculate an effective threshold for representation. This is higher in countries using Droop, d'Hondt, and Imperiali and lower in countries using Sainte-Lague and Hare. Under Sainte-Lague, and without the legal threshold, NZ's effective threshold would be about 0.8%. I'm currently studying the Netherlands, which uses a sort of Hare-d'Hondt hybrid formula and has an effective threshold of 0.67%.

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