4% porridge

The MMP review has recommended a reduction in the MMP party threshold from 5% to 4%.

In conclusion, therefore, the Commission’s sense is that 5% is too high and that 3% is the lowest end of an acceptable range. We suggest 4% is preferable. It reflects the Royal Commission’s original recommendation. It would compensate for abolition of the one electorate seat threshold. It is in line with comparable democracies such as Norway and Sweden. And it is in line with public opinion and the weight of submissions received by the Commission.

Andrew Geddis has called this the Goldilocks number. “Not too high, not too low, and supported by just the right number of people!!”

But this doesn’t seem to consider what would be the most democratic, they have judged on what others do and what they think is “in line with public opinion and the weight of submissions”. Except, acccording to No Right Turn:

Interestingly, more submitters favoured a lower threshold than favoured 4% (and as many favoured actual or effective abolition as favoured the second most popular category of 1 – 2.5%).

There have been a number of claims that the commission has taken a big party approach – of course the big parties will have a big say in trying to protect themselves from those pesky small parties.

Meanwhile, the actual evidence from NZ of the effectiveness of smaller parties, or their effects on government stability, does not seem to have been considered. I guess they decided that Graeme Edgeler’s proposal of considering the pros and cons of the whole range was too much work, so instead we have the usual snobby, anti-democratic nostrums about the need to keep small parties out in the cold. Translating the Electoral Commission’s view into the real world, they think the Maori Party are ineffective representatives and that Jim Anderton was extremist, and that both should be denied a place in Parliament if they hadn’t had the good luck to win electorate seats. You don’t have to approve of either of those examples to recognise that this conclusion is a bit dubious.

Democracy should be about giving people a say. The commission report seems to be weighted far to much towards giving the incumbent self interested large parties a say.

It is still possible to have a say on this, here. The proposals paper is open for submissions until 7 September.

Leave a comment


  1. I am still getting my head around the numbers and it’s meaning re: representation. I am still learning the benefits of it all. I am still learning what woud be better – this kind of fuzziness is a tad annoying. So i will be reading the Proposals Paper and see if I can make sense of it all. I recommend everyone who reads Pete’s blog to discuss this here. We could all learn together.

  2. Darryl

     /  14th August 2012

    The 4% is probably fair enough, but the being able to stand for an electorate, miss out and come back through the back door on the list, is just NOT right. If the electorate doesn’t vote for you, then you should not be able to defy by being on the list. End of exercise.


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