Orange Election Guy Demands Change, Human Flesh
The Electoral Commission has released a draft proposal paper on changes to the MMP electoral system. The paper contains several recommendations that, if implemented, could dramatically alter the battleground for the 2014 election and beyond.
The two most significant recommendations are that the party vote threshold for entering Parliament should be reduced from 5% to 4%, and that parties who win an electorate seat but fail to reach the party vote threshold should no longer be allowed to bring in additional list MPs.
The Commission also recommended abolishing the provision for overhang seats, thus limiting Parliament to 120 MPs. Currently there are 121 MPs in Parliament, while the previous Parliamentary term had 122 MPs.
The Commission recommended keeping the status quo in several other areas, such as MPs being allowed to stand both in an electorate and on a party list, parties having full authority to determine their own list rankings as they choose, and list MPs being allowed to run in by-elections.
Labour and the Greens are supportive of the Commission’s recommendations, while ACT are opposed. NZ First does not want the threshold to be lowered to 4%, even though it would make it easier for them to get into Parliament in 2014. National is yet to decide.
Political parties have a strong history of supporting whichever electoral system is most advantageous to them. But there are differing opinions on whether the proposed changes would favour National or Labour. ACT and the Mana Party would, barring a huge increase in popularity, be unable to cross the party vote threshold and thus would be limited to one electorate MP each. NZ First would have an easier path to Parliament, which would likely benefit Labour, but the Conservatives, who polled 2.65% in 2011, would have a much higher chance of reaching the lowered threshold, providing a potential ally for National.
Any changes to the electoral system have traditionally been implemented only with bi-partisan support from both National and Labour, as these changes can dramatically alter the playing field for elections. Any changes the parties do agree on will likely be implemented before the 2014 election.
The Commission was specifically forbidden from considering any changes to the number of MPs in Parliament, or to the Maori seats. However, these issues are not taboo for the Constitutional Advisory Panel, which is due to report to Parliament in September 2013.