Posted: February 13, 2012 in civil rights, democracy

It’s that time again- there’s an independent commission preparing to review MMP, seeing we voted to retain it, and their submission process is now open. You can make a five-minute submission online if you like, or you can do a full submission answering any of the issues individually and in detail, and if you want to give your submission more weight and travel to Wellington is convenient for you, you can also choose to appear in-person before the commission to answer any questions they have about what you say. I’ve already made mine, and it took me thirty minutes to do it in detail, and in language anyone can easily understand that was still very specific.

Don’t worry if you’re not an expert on voting or legal issues, if there’s something that stands out as good about our current system, or unfair, you can have a say on any of the issues under review.

There’s already a theme from the visible submissions, and to my great pleasure, it’s that almost everyone wants the party vote threshold significantly reduced. Most submissions are in favour of either eliminating the threshold altogether, or (like mine) reducing it to winning a single seat outright, with a few in favour of a small reduction in the threshold in the neighbourhood of 2-4%. The threshold is one of the worst parts of our current system, and it contributes to all sorts of problems people have with it- from the disparity of ACT and New Zealand First’s seats in the previous parliament, to encouraging small parties to run for electorates instead of growing their party vote, risking overhang seats.

I’ve also weighed in that, at the very least, parties need to submit their lists to their own members for a vote. Mandating this is an easy and cost-effective way of giving some accountability to party lists, and it still allows parties the flexibility to adjust lists if they’re okay with publishing the differences, and it allows them to choose how to conduct the vote, what electoral system to use, and is basically the most hands-off and proportional way of making list MPs accountable. I hope other submissions will also include increased public input on party lists as their means of holding List MPs accountable.

We’re incredibly lucky that we live in a country that since 1990 has had a strong tradition of electoral review, public consultation, and independent commissions largely deciding the nature of our electoral system. (with a few sneaky tweaks from Labour and National, like the fact we have a 5% threshold and not a 4% one) We should continue this tradition in other areas, such as MPs pay, electoral finance rules, fixing the election date, and the eventual transition to a republic. But in the meantime, you can give a mandate to these independent reviews by submitting.


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