In defence of MMP in New Zealand by underground

I have often read scathing critiques of MMP from public letters to the editors and political analysts alike. Central to their criticisms are that list MPs are not elected directed by voters but brought to parliament on the party vote. These members are considered unaccountable to the voting public.Voters see very little of their electorate MPs (some not even living in the electorate!) and know just as little about them. Surely when most people vote for a candidate, they are voting for the party they represent and it’s policies, not the particular individual. Therefore politicians are all accountable to their parties, who are in turn accountable to the voting public. The likes of Gordon Copeland and Taito Philip Field are now entirely unaccountable, and hence undeserving of their seats in parliament.

I live in the Helensville electorate, so as I am not a National voter, my candidate vote is destined to be worthless. If it were not for the party vote I would not be represented in parliament at all. Some of the smaller parties represent over 5 per cent of the population, yet win no electorate seats. More people vote for these parties than any one candidate, so why should these voters be disenfranchised? It is possible that a party could receive 4.9 per cent of the votes, not receive am electorate seat, and there have no members in parliament. Jim Anderton however may receive a few thousand votes, win wigram and gain a seat for the Progressive Party in parliament, despite less than a per cent of support nationwide.

Firstly, I believe undue weight is placed on electorate MPs. Secondly the 5 per cent threshold must also go. The performance of list MP’s must be monitored by parties and voters must hold parties accountable for their members’ actions/performances. Currently their place on the list and hence their position in parliament is determined by the internal workings of each individual party. More public attention and scrutiny should be placed on these politicians, to ensure they perform. Parties should be strongly inclined to drop under-performing MPs, although there are examples where they do.

As for party hoppers…


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