Holly Walker on maximising MMP fairness

Holly Walker has posted on Frogblog: MMP changes belong to the people, not parties

Any electoral system should maximise fairness, and the one-seat rule has produced the unfair situation that voters in some electorates have a greater say over the make-up of Parliament than others.

Nevertheless, it’s important that removing the one-seat rule and lowering the party vote threshold are considered as a package. Although it was arbitrary and unfair, the one-seat rule did help to make Parliament more proportional, by allowing some smaller parties to be represented. Therefore, if we remove the one-seat rule, we need to lower the party vote threshold to ensure that smaller parties still have a realistic chance of gaining representation.

It is unclear but I presume Holly is supporting the Electoral Commission threshold recommendation of 4%.

There are four small parties currently in parliament who got less than 4% party vote, and the Conservative Party failed to make Parliament with less than 5% (and less than 4%).

A 4% threshold does not come close to maximising fairness. It does not ensure that smaller parties still have a realistic chance of gaining representation. It significantly favours larger parties, like the Green Party.

A threshold not only excludes parties who fail to reach the threshold from parliament, it reduces voting support for parties that don’t look like reaching the threshold. Some voters don’t want to waste their vote so may switch their vote to a party they think will get into Parliament.

I’ve asked Holly: “What threshold would maximise fairness to ensure voters of some parties don’t have a greater say in the makeup of Parliament than others?”

UPDATE: a response from Holly…

I support the Electoral Commission’s recommendation to lower the party vote threshold to 4 percent. I note that in its report, the Commission notes that a lower threshold of 3 percent might be even better, but that change in this area should be made incrementally, so the threshold should be lowered to 4 percent now and reviewed after three elections. I think that is a sensible course of action.

Sensible, from a large party point of view perhaps, but it doesn’t maximise fairness. It retains an electoral advantage for the Green Party.

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