Is a list leaning Government an issue?

Does it matter that the Government has more list MPs that electorate MPs?

asked:

Interesting, but does it matter?

NZ Govt consists of 34 List MP’s & 29 electorate MPs.

Opposition consists 15 List MP’s & 42 electorate MPs.

All MPs have equal voting status within the parliament.

I don’t think that in general that proportion – more list MPS in government than electorate MPs – should matter.

Many people, I think, look upon electorate MPs as real MPs representing an electorate and List MPs as second class. But in honesty, with whips/party discipline, all MPs put their Party first.

I think of more interest is Government has two list only parties. There is potentially a democratic issue with them, if each of NZ First and Green MPs tend to engage within their party bubbles, dealing with a narrow range of political views and preferences.

Electorate MPs,  having to deal with constituents from across the political spectrum through electorate office inquiries and public engagements, are more likely to be in touch with a more diverse range of people.

I don’t know if this is an issue of concern or not. It depends on how the list MPs work and engage.

44 Comments

  1. Gerrit

     /  February 17, 2018

    As an aside, it would be cheaper if we did not have physical list MP’s in parliament. They always vote on party lines so do away with them and allocate those respective volume of votes for the party whip to cast.

    61 electorate MP’s and 59 list Mp equivalent votes.

    There would be no need for the “waka” jumping bill.

    I notice that the “waka” jumping bill includes electorate MP’s. Does this mean a by election if a MP is thrown out of political party?

    If Labour’s Maori caucus (7 electorate seat) all leave the party due to say charter schools or water ownership issues (like the foreshore and sea bed issue in the Clark government), the coalition would be hard pressed to remain in office unless they do another round of negotiaitions with NZFirst, Greens plus the new Neo-Maori party.

  2. Norman Grey

     /  February 17, 2018

    I had expected by now there might have been some movement towards changes to our Parliamentary system. I have always felt that List MPs, whose loyalty is to their party have far too much influence. Electorate MPs are responsible to their Party to, but also mindful of their electorate voters.
    There just seems to be something missing when this system is called democracy.
    Any suggestions?

    • David

       /  February 17, 2018

      We would have to go back to first past the post but then you lose proportionality and we dont have an upper house/elected president.
      This government is an oddity in that the 4th place party gets to elect the runner up as the winner when the 3rd placed party refused to act like they had any say and just rolled over. Its a very strange outcome and even stranger that the PM is pregnant and is making Peters of all people PM for who knows how long in an election where she promoted generational change…guess it is generational change but a weird direction.

    • PartisanZ

       /  February 17, 2018

      The missing ingredient ‘democracy’ applies equally though perhaps somewhat differently to electorate MPs who should, and at best maybe do, remain “mindful of their electorate voters” once elected …

      The absence of real and deeply engaged democracy applies to the whole system …

      People continually say “the majority of people clearly want ‘this and that'” but the government acts otherwise” … and polls prove it …. examples 71% &/or 74% want medicinal cannabis legalised with a grow your own component; and 74% want End-of-Life-Choice …

      It’s an insult to call this democracy … either FPP or MMP … It runs much deeper than just this last election result or the current electoral system …

      Democracy needs a defrag and reboot …

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 18, 2018

      Norman; no. I agree but can’t see what can be done.

      It’s a worry that the ones in charge have so few MPs that people wanted because they wanted those people and that the deputy PM was so unpopular that nobody wanted him.

  3. David

     /  February 17, 2018

    Its one of the worst aspects of MMP, made worse by the Waka Jumping legislation and that Labour, Greens, NZ First have no electorates outside a main centre so loyalty is to the party and naturally the efforts of list MPs is to please party bosses not voters.
    NZ First is the extreme version where the only reason they are in parliament is because of Winston, their place on the list is because of Winston, soon their loyalty to Winston will be the deciding factor if they remain MPs.
    Be nice to have a proportional system where all MPs have an electorate and have to face voters and explain themselves.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 17, 2018

      It’s a nice idea, but how would it be implemented ? Divide the electorates ?

      • David

         /  February 17, 2018

        Not a bad idea, if you are a list MP then you have to be tied to an electorate and who knows if you do a good job what could happen but at least voters would have an MP to eyeball.
        If you google a map of electorates held the Labour party look like quite a narrow fringe urban party.

        • PartisanZ

           /  February 17, 2018

          We’d be back to the same-old archaic two party system that reigned for so long … with a party like Social Credit gaining 21% of the votes cast in 1981 and ending up with 2 representatives …

          I reckon voters need to demand that list candidates be scrutinized – especially by the MSM – not just for Party loyalty but about their life experience, personal ethics, views on conscience issues, personal bottom-lines etc … and that the Party system, or indeed the Parliamentary system, make allowances for these elements …

          Parliament, like Rugby League did years & years ago, needs to ‘depower’ its own scrum …

          In other words, ‘democracy’ needs a bloody good defrag and reboot …

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  February 18, 2018

          I fear that in reality it might be more complex than we think. After all, MPs are looking after the country as a whole, not just their electorates.

          • PartisanZ

             /  February 18, 2018

            Disagree Miss Kitty, I reckon nowadays MPs are looking after their Party’s Corporate-elite backers more than anyone else …

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  February 18, 2018

              I think not . After all, I have known a lot of MPs. If they did as you imagine, the country would be in total chaos. The US may go in for mutual back-scratching, but it would be hard to get away with it here. We are among the best in the world, we may even be the best, for lack of corruption.

            • PartisanZ

               /  February 18, 2018

              You jest, surely!? We’re the best in the world for corruption you can’t see … For opaque corruption pretending to be transparency …

  4. Blazer

     /  February 17, 2018

    of course the P.M and the M.O.F were both list members in the previous admin…and not a whisper.

    • David

       /  February 17, 2018

      Wasnt Key MP for Helensville and English for the majority of his time for Clutha Southland…anyway Blazer the point is the oddity of having a government with a small geographical support base when compared to the previous governments broad geographical appeal.

      • Blazer

         /  February 17, 2018

        English=list,Joyce=list.No one’s too worried….except desperate…losers.

        • Gezza

           /  February 17, 2018

          Of course the backers of party out of power to a government with more list than electorate MP’s are likely to complain.

          What effect does this have on the overall accountability of politicians & their ability to hear represent electorate constituents concerns to parties in policy development & implementation.

          Just an interesting issue to ponder & discuss, now Alasdair Thompson’s pointed it out. I’m still pondering it over & am interested in reading intelligent posts about it.

          • Gezza

             /  February 17, 2018

            (Apologies for poor sentence construction, but I think the gist is clear.)

          • PartisanZ

             /  February 17, 2018

            You make a very good point Gezza, perhaps obliquely or even by accident …

            Maybe List MPs, feeling responsible to the whole electorate of Aotearoa NZ, can’t be bought as easily as electorate MPs?

            • David

               /  February 17, 2018

              They tend to be creatures of their party, where there are exceptions made for MPs to cross the floor it is O Connor or Kaye et al who have vocal electorates with particular interests. List MPs are easily replaced with the next in line

            • Gezza

               /  February 17, 2018

              Sorry, replied below.

          • Gezza

             /  February 17, 2018

            No i just make a good point & suggest one reason why. There’s no need to qualify it with a possible putdown? That’s a good issue you’ve raised.

            • Gezza

               /  February 17, 2018

              So, PZ, can you tease that point out a bit more? How are List MP’s any less easily bought by special interests?

            • PartisanZ

               /  February 17, 2018

              Depends how devious the individual MP is I guess …?

              Some electorate MPs might think “Well, you know, this entire electorate is only 100,000 people, and only 78% of eligible voters in my electorate cast a vote, and only 43% of them voted for me … so really, you know, I’m only answerable to 44,460 people …

              A List MP might think, “Wait on. Hang on a moment. 4.5 million people are depending on me”

              Do List MPs have offices? I know you can email and facebook message them …

            • Gezza

               /  February 17, 2018

              Just thinking about your reported experience with Green Party supporter “savages” though – aren’t Green List MP’s potentially likely feel more beholden to those people than you?

          • Blazer

             /  February 17, 2018

            arguably the 2 most important positions in Govt are P.M and Min of Finance.There was no questioning that English and Joyce were list M.P’s then.Now its just something else to whine ..about.

            • Gezza

               /  February 17, 2018

              No doubt. It’s just something I never thought about before – that we could have a government of mostly List MPs. Maybe it makes no effective difference at all.

              If you’re not keen to approach an electorate MP from another party with an issue you’d like raised with a Minister, I wonder how you’d get on if you chose any List MP from your favourite party to make representations.

            • PartisanZ

               /  February 17, 2018

              It clearly makes no difference to National. They’ll block-vote to retain unjust, irrational and highly unpopular Laws like our current cannabis legislation – in an ordained ‘conscience vote’ – regardless of whether these “representatives”, who evidently don’t have consciences, are electorate or list MPs … SFT …!

  5. David

     /  February 17, 2018

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/election-results

    Interesting map, probably hard to find a comparable country with an electorate map like that with reds finishing up the winner.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 18, 2018

      Remember the Dancing Cossacks ?

      Nobody seemed to notice that Cossacks were actually opposed to the Communists and fighting against them.They were White Russians.

  6. we need a way for electorate MPs to be more independent of their parties,

    • PartisanZ

       /  February 17, 2018

      Absolutely Shane. Here is where the question of public good versus private freedom raises its ugly head …

      In our current undemocratic democracy environment, it would almost make sense to ordain that a certain number of List and/or Electorate MPs must be independent … ?

      Why, really, should individuals have the ‘freedom’ to paint democracy into the corner it’s trapped in now … the undemocratic corner … the Inverted Totalitarian corner … ?

      So they can ‘profit’ at their fellow human beings expense …?

      • Gezza

         /  February 17, 2018

        I’ve occasionally considered the idea why can’t all MP’s be independent members but I concluded the end result would likely to be a government so indecisive & chaotic it would be gridlocked & parties would rapidly form anyway in suceeding elections to be able to prepare & present distinct policy platforms to the voters.

        Interesting proposition if, say, there was to be 1 party candidate & 1 independent candidate for each electorate, but you’d still want to know what all their policy platforms or key policy positions were & it could still be chaotic.

        I agree that block voting on conscience issues stinks.

        No system’s ever going to be perfect.

        • PartisanZ

           /  February 17, 2018

          I’d say very very few people ever “know what all their policy platforms or key policy positions” are and we don’t know whether they’ll adhere to them anyhow.

          More often than not, recent history tends to indicate they won’t keep their promises …

          Independent List MPs would provide experts and ethically impeccable individuals to present their credentials and use their skills for ‘the public good’.

          How about this, enough Independent List MPs to ALWAYS hold the balance of power?

          Proportional representation with proportional independents …?

          • PartisanZ

             /  February 17, 2018

            … provide them with an opportunity to present their credentials …

          • Gezza

             /  February 17, 2018

            Independent List MPs would provide experts and ethically impeccable individuals to present their credentials and use their skills for ‘the public good’.

            Experts in what? And how do voters know they’ll be ethically impeccable?

          • Missy

             /  February 18, 2018

            “Independent List MPs would provide experts and ethically impeccable individuals to present their credentials and use their skills for ‘the public good’.”

            Huh? A list MP by definition represents a Party in Parliament, they after all get in by being an MP for a party that got over 5% of the vote, or an MP in a constituency.

            I don’t believe that there can be – or should be – such a thing as an independent list MP. If an MP wants to be independent then they need to win an electorate.

            • PartisanZ

               /  February 18, 2018

              Independent MPs is obviously a difficult concept to understand … ? MPs completely free of Party affiliation …

              Under the current system, yes they would need to win an electorate. MMP supports Parties and their ‘herd instinct’ origins …

              A cohort of truly independent MPs each electoral cycle might conceivably act to keep the others within government honest … like a kind of ‘ombudsman’ faction within the Marae Ture/Legislative Assembly?

              This was probably the idea behind an Upper House … abolished at a stroke by that same First National government so elegantly – and perhaps generously – described by Chris Trotter as “the crudest, most ignorant and bigoted collection of far-right reactionaries” NZ has ever had the misfortune to be governed by …

              Its a ‘way-out’ idea I know … a group of effectively jurors within government … but combined with additional (or any) components of direct democracy like electronic polling &/or voting … could lead to politicians simply having to behave more in accordance with the public’s wishes and the common good?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 18, 2018

      If they were independent of their party, there wouldn’t be much point in belonging to and standing as a member of it..

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 18, 2018

    The problem with list MPs is that they just live in their own ideological echo chamber with little real world contact. An electorate MP really does have to serve and mix with all shades of opinion. So do Ministers so it doesn’t matter so much if they don’t have an electorate.

    The Greens show the effect bigly.

    • Blazer

       /  February 18, 2018

      tell that to Bill English and Stephen Joyce…they ran the last National Govt…bucko!

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 18, 2018

        Your comprehension is diminished by its usual surrounding brick wall, B. Has it escaped your notice that they were both Ministers then?

    • PartisanZ

       /  February 18, 2018

      An electorate MP has to mix but not necessarily serve in my experience Alan …

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 18, 2018

        They have to serve whichever constituents seek their help.