Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ten Weeks to Go

Ten Weeks to Go.

That is 10 weeks to the General Election and a referendum on what is a constitutional change. The method by which we elect our servants, the Members of Parliament, the question on whether to retain or abandon MMP.
If we chose to abandon MMP  we  must then nominate by which system we elect future members of Parliament.
The fact that such major constitution change can be effected by a simple majority vote, is in my opinion, a travesty.
But then it just adds to the long list of constitutional blunders enacted in New Zealand,  MMP being only one of those blunders brought in by a simple majority of electors  (those  who could be bothered to turn out and vote!)
As I have often said  MMP should go.  It  is a flawed system designed by politicians for the good of politicians. 

A system where no one is truly accountable.

A system which  allows the proliferation of do- nothing Ministers and Ministries.

A system dedicated to big government with deals cut in back rooms, where Members of  Parliament who have been roundly rejected by constituents are returned by way of the Party List.  Where cronies are afforded jobs for life by the same method.

What are the alternatives?

FPP - First Past the Post. Rejected in 1993 by an electorate who wanted to punish the politicians for their action in the previous administrations. Ironically giving the same politicians licence to ride roughshod over the electorate with little accountability and not be rejected. FPP gives the most accountability of  the five methods. However a party may win the majority of electorates without winning the majority of the votes cast.     

PV - Preferential Vote  There is one member for each electorate as with FPP.  To win the seat a candidate must have more than 50% of the votes cast. To vote electors number candidates from one upwards. One, being the elector's first choice, two, their second and so on upward in the elector's preference until all candidates are numbered. If no candidate has more than 50% of the votes cast, the lowest polling candidates preferences are distributed. If on the first distribution no candidate has achieved 50% the second lowest polling  candidate's preferences are distributed and so until a candidate has over 50% of the votes cast.

PV is about the same as FPP for accountability but gives an illusion of no wasted votes.  

STV-Single Transferable Vote  Electoral boundarys would be redrawn to give about 24 to 30 electorates for the whole of New Zealand ( about 8 for the South Island and about 18 for the North Island) each having from 3 to 7 members of Parliament. Candidates are nominated by parties to fill vacancies in electorates and ranked on the ballot paper by the party. Each electorate the has set an arbitrary figure   
To vote the elector can vote for the party list as it stands, a tick for the party (voting above the line) or by ranking candidates by preference ( voting below the line). If a vote is cast both with a combination of both the vote becomes informal.
After the election the number of votes cast is divided by the number of seats vacant plus one and one added to the quotient, this becomes the Quota. Example 100 votes are cast to fill 3 vacant seats, (3+1 = 4). 100 divided by 4 = 25 + 1 = 26, therefore the Quota is 26. Candidates who reach the  Quota on the first count are elected, any surplus votes they have are redistributed at the second count at the third count the lowest polling candidate is eliminated and that candidates second choice are distributed. This carries on until all vacancies are full. Complex Eh!

SM-Supplementary Member  Where the size of Parliament is set at say 120 members of  with 90 constituency members and 30 list members. The voter has two votes  one for the electorate member and one for a party.  The electorate members is elected under the First Past the Post or winner take all system. The list members are chosen on their ranking on the party list proportional as to the percentage vote the party receives over whole country. As the party vote is proportional this poses the question.  This eliminates the need for these professional politicians to do any campaigning or for them even to put down their G & T or leave Wellington.
Let us pause here and remember the old adage " Be careful what you wish for, you might get it."