Would a lower threshold have made much difference?

The large parties have kept ensuring it remains very difficult for small parties to succeed or survive by keeping a ridiculously high threshold of 5%. A slightly more reasonable 4% was recommended, and many people have said it should be much lower.

No new parties that didn’t have MPs who had jumped ship have succeeded in getting into Parliament in 21 years of MMP.

What would the election result have looked like with no threshold? From Rediit What Parliament could have been if there was no 5% minimum

Actual seats (provisional):

Election2017ProvisionalActual

Seats with no 5% threshold (provisional)

 

Election2017Provisional0Threshold

That would have brought 5 MPs from 3 parties into Parliament that didn’t make it.

This wouldn’t have changed the National+NZ First majority much (58 to 54, still a clear majority) but it would have left Labour+NZ First+Green short on 59 (they have a bare majority 61 seats now).

However also noted at Reddit:

Of course, if there was no 5% minimum, peoples voting behavior would have changed.

I suspect greens would have gotten less, with TOP and maybe United Future getting more.

And if we had also had no threshold last election the Conservatives and Internet-Mana may have been in Parliament and in the mix this election. Even a slightly lower 4% could have made a significant difference.

Keeping the 5% threshold in place is keeping new parties out of Parliament and gradually squeezing small parties out too. At one stage polls suggested that both NZ First and Greens were at risk of missing the cut.

Thresholds in other countries:

  • Germany 5%
  • Poland 5%
  • Israel 3.25% (it has gradually been increased)
  • Turkey 10%
  • Netherlands effectively 0.67%
  • Slovenia effectively 4%
  • Sweden 4%

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommends for parliamentary elections a threshold not higher than 3%.

There are some variations. In New Zealand if a party wins an electorate seat the threshold doesn’t apply to them, in Germany they have a 3 seat exemption.

But this is probably all futile pondering, National and Labour seem intent on excluding fair representation by maintaining a high 5% barrier to protect their own interests at the expense of  fair democracy.

26 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  September 26, 2017

    more voices in Parliament the …better imo.

    • PDB

       /  September 26, 2017

      Israel learnt the hard way that you can’t just let any old party in that gets a few votes as it becomes a real mess, hence they raised the threshold.

      For us I’d be happy with 3.5%. On that basis TOP would have attracted enough support to get in – being well below 5% in the polls put many people off giving them their vote.

      Preferential voting would better encourage people to support smaller parties as their vote is unlikely to be wasted if that smaller party doesn’t get enough overall support.

      • Mefrostate

         /  September 26, 2017

        Agree entirely. I’d be happy anywhere between 2.5-4.0% threshold, and STV used for distributing the votes of those who don’t meet the threshold.

        Conservatives should have entered parliament in 2014, TOP should have entered Parliament this year.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  October 9, 2017

          With the threshhold lowered is there a need for STV allocation? The wasted vote would be very low if 3.5% was used.

    • Mefrostate

       /  September 26, 2017

      More competition of ideas, bigger range of coalition options, better governance.

      Surely everyone across the spectrum can agree that it would have been better if TOP had got the three seats their 2.2% correspond to? That would at least have weakened Winston’s negotiating power relative to our current scenario.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  September 26, 2017

        Gareth wasn’t going to go to parliament, but temperamentally he is entirely unsuited to it anyway.
        Colin Craig – OMG, no.
        I think the 5% threshhold has kept a number of fringe players away from parliament, which his a good thing.
        Having to compromise to a “third party” like NZF plus a fringe minnow like TOP would not lead to better governance at all.

        • Mefrostate

           /  September 26, 2017

          Problem is that the “fringe elements” you’re referring to instead the views of at least one-in-twenty kiwis, and probably more, given many voters probably feel neither Labour nor National really reflect their worldview but are deterred from voting elsewhere due to the threshold.

          National already have to compromise to NZF if they want to govern. But that compromise would be less if English were able to play Peters and Morgan off one-another, rather than having Peters play English and Ardern off each other as currently.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  September 26, 2017

            I understand the argument. Although if it was 1 in 20 as you say the party would be in under current threshholds. You are talking about those representing less than 1 in 20.

            And the seats they get would generally come off the major parties, meaning more compromise is likely rather than less.

            Personally, even though TOP had some interesting policies, they were still fringe and had no concept of playing nicely with others. Gareth seemed to think anyone who wasn’t himself or was not in complete agreement with him was a moron.

            that said, 5% may be a little high, especially given the media landscape is so badly skewed against newcomers and minors.

            Keeping “rich white guy” vanity projects – looking at you Colin, Kim and Gareth – out of parliament unless they can get a meaningful following is positive for democracy to my mind.

            • Mefrostate

               /  September 26, 2017

              I personally think that more compromise would be way better for society than less.

              But yeah, I think we’re basically agreeing that a lower threshold would be great, but not one as low as 0.833% (threshold for one seat). I’m comfortable with anywhere in 2.5-4.0%. At the very least it would reduce the quantity of preferences which are hidden by the current high threshold.

              WRT rich white guy projects, I kind’ve agree, but it’s hard to gauge what a meaningful following is. I think TOP probably had their vote dampened by about 1% point due to the “wasted vote” fears, and the question then is whether 3.5% is a meaningful enough following to be in Parliament.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  September 26, 2017

              It gets complicated with the electorate seat argument. It is hard to argue against TOP getting representation if they had 3.5%, given ACT get representation at 0.5% because National did a deal with David Seymour.
              3.5% would be about right to me. That would give 4 / 5 seats which is a good minimum level to have a voice.

            • Mefrostate

               /  September 26, 2017

              Sounds fine to me, too. TOP could have probably got there if it was down to 3.5% too, I reckon.

              Any National supporters want to tell us why a lower threshold is a bad idea?

            • Gezza

               /  September 26, 2017

              I always find myself wondering whenever I contemplate more parties in a coalition just how hard it could get to put a budget together.

            • Patzcuaro

               /  September 27, 2017

              Neither main party wants a lower threshold because they both beneft from their cosy duopoly, naked self interest.

              Small parties that did get in and then behaved unreasonably would be voted out a the next election.

              A way of distributing the votes for parties that don’t make the threshold is an interesting idea. I think this would increase the likelihood of smaller parties getting. Your vote wouldn’t be wasted if they didn’t make the threshold. To simplify things you would only get one second preference.

  2. NOEL

     /  September 26, 2017

    Oh shite Legalise Cannabis would get in.
    You would be against lowering Zedd?

  3. duperez

     /  September 26, 2017

    Two points. The surmising about the difference the lower threshold would have made obviously has to be made on the figures which eventuated. I think it is reasonable to suggest that with the threshold that high numbers of people would not have have voted for smaller parties thinking their voted would be ‘wasted.’ A lower threshold would likely have seen more votes for the smaller parties. That having happened once, would likely become a systemic feature.

    The MMP referendum alongside the General election was a waste of time and money. The records of the subsequent MMP Review are there to read as are what happened to the recommendations of the Review. The submissions of the major parties show which did or didn’t support the lowering of the threshold. The review for all the good intent and millions spent on it was ‘crushed.’

    (A most interesting submission for me was the one saying 5% should be kept as the threshold: “… advocates for the retention of the current threshold as it ensures that parties entering parliament are not from the radical fringes of society.”

    Was their intention to keep out those who wanted to bring into Parliament some of the weird values from the radical fringes of society uncommon in Parliament like integrity and honesty and selflessness?)

    • Gezza

       /  September 26, 2017

      Possibly, although they may have had groups like the National Front in mind.

      • duperez

         /  September 26, 2017

        Appreciate that but in the long run is their easily identified madness in its small package more damaging or less able to be managed that the silent sinister machinations of a much more sizable ‘acceptable’ group? And are they entitled to their lunacy as long as they keep within the law? The definitions of ‘radical fringes of society’ are many and varied of course and completely personal.

        (Should have said above MMP referendum General Election 2011.)

        • Gezza

           /  September 26, 2017

          It was a bit tongue in cheek. You know me, dupers. 😉

          I wouldn’t assume smaller parties have any more or less integrity, honesty & selflessness than the larger ones tho. Look at Colin The Poet.

  4. Zedd

     /  September 26, 2017

    It seems that the issue really is, most kiwis (inc. MSM) just dont get it.. they still talk in terms of FPP; Left V Right

    look at Germany (also just had an election) CDU (Merkel) just won a 4th term with about 35% ?, but there are several other parties, she can go into COALITION with, unlike NZ where its still 2 ‘Major party’ facing off, with a couple of ‘minor parties’ to work with. tail wagging the dog mentality ?

    Maybe prior to the election, the electoral commission need to put out TV ads to remind people; It IS MMP not FPP & you can give your party vote to a different party (as I do)

    BUT; Shit happens…. 😦

    btw; @ NOEL, recent polls show >80% support Med-use & yet the biggest party (Natz) are totally opposed to further law reform.. would it be SO TERRIBLE, if ALCP did get an MP to at least bring up the issue, more often, rather than just keep sweeping it under the carpet (except the odd comment from Greens).
    They recently had a Med-use bill pulled from ballot, due for 1st reading, but will Natz support it; dont hold your breath folks ! They still have their heads squarely in FPP politics

    • PDB

       /  September 26, 2017

      The Greens don’t obviously understand MMP. If they did they would do a Winston and play off Labour against National for policy concessions.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  September 26, 2017

        The Greens understand that their voting support is mostly from virtue signallers who would be horrified if their policies were actually implemented.

        • Patzcuaro

           /  September 27, 2017

          Following on from dotard, virtue signalling

          “Saying you love or hate something to show off what a virtuous person you are, instead of actually trying to fix the problem.”

          • Patzcuaro

             /  September 27, 2017

            The opposite of a virtue signaller would be a man made climate change denier.

  5. Hear, hear!

  6. 0.3% of the vote is not quite enough for a party to get representation in a 120 MP House, so ALCP is out.

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