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Dr Muriel Newman

Proportional Representation – Disproportional Influence

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The 446,287 special votes cast during last month’s election have now been counted. According to the Electoral Commission, the final election tally gives National 44.4 percent of the vote and 56 seats, Labour 36.9 percent and 46 seats, New Zealand First 7.3 percent and 9 seats, the Greens 6.3 percent and 8 seats, and ACT 0.5 percent and one seat.

In other words, as a result of the special votes, National has lost two seats from the provisional total on election night, while Labour and the Greens have gained one each.

In terms of potential future coalition deals, in a Parliament where 61 seats are needed to govern, the National Party and New Zealand First would have 65 seats between them, while Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First would have 63 seats.

Under New Zealand’s previous First Past the Post voting system the party with the most electorates would have won the right to govern. Had the 2017 election been held under FPP, in all likelihood National, which won 41 electorates compared with Labour’s 29, would have gone on to form a government – albeit with only 44 percent of the popular vote.

Critics argued, however, that such minority governments were unfair to the majority who did not vote for the winning party. This, and other factors, gave rise to the review that resulted in a change to the Mixed Member Proportional voting system.

Fast forward 21 years, through seven MMP elections, to 2017 and we now have the bizarre situation where the most popular party – and by a clear margin – could be locked out of government entirely.

So, even though the National Party gained ten more seats at the election, than Labour, if New Zealand First decides to team up with Labour and the Greens in a ruling coalition, instead of National, the 1,152,075 people who voted for National – out of the total of 2,630,173 voters – would have no representation at all in the new Government.

In other words, while MMP has delivered proportional representation, it has not delivered proportional power. In fact, we have seen this many times before, when small parties can, and do, hold the country to ransom, wielding influence that is far greater than their proportion of the vote. And while critics are currently expressing strong warnings about the power that New Zealand First now has, we should not forget that in the last three Parliaments, the Maori Party was able to impose its radical separatist agenda onto the country – even though in the 2014 election it gained only 1.3 percent of the party vote.

As this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, freelance journalist Karl du Fresne explains, not only was MMP sold to New Zealanders on the understanding that it would keep extremism out of Parliament – which it has clearly failed to do – but it has also enabled coalition parties to dodge some of their more difficult election pledges: 

“Adopted in 1996 and modelled on the electoral system created in post-war Germany to ensure that no extremist party could again win total power as the Nazis did, MMP was promoted to Kiwi voters as a means of reasserting control over rogue politicians. In fact it turned out to be every bit as flawed as the first-past-the-post system it replaced.

“Under MMP, voters are shut out of the game the moment the votes are in. Unless one party has an absolute majority, which hasn’t happened in any of the eight elections since MMP was introduced, the politicians then disappear behind closed doors to do whatever furtive horse-trading is necessary to cut a deal.

“At that point, all bets are off. Every policy dangled in front of voters during the election campaign is effectively up for negotiation. What were solemnly declared on the campaign trail to be bottom lines become wondrously elastic or evaporate altogether. Voters have no influence over this process and can only await the outcome.”

The election result has some claiming it’s time for another review of MMP.

In particular, the ‘wasted’ vote arising from the demise of the Maori Party and the failure of The Opportunities Party and other minor parties to gain Parliamentary representation, has led to calls for a reduction in the 5 percent party vote threshold to enter Parliament.

In the last three elections, parties bankrolled by wealthy individuals, who positioned themselves at number one on their party list, attempted to win seats in Parliament. Had the threshold been dropped to 4 percent, Colin Craig and the Conservative Party would have entered Parliament in 2014, and if the threshold was 2 percent, Gareth Morgan and TOP would have been successful at this election.

Calls to reduce election thresholds are common in countries with proportional voting systems.

In fact, following a decision in Germany by the Constitutional Court in 2011, that the 5 percent threshold for European Parliamentary elections disadvantaged small parties and was unconstitutional, the threshold was reduced to 3 percent. However, the Court then ruled the new three percent threshold also hurt the equal opportunities of parties and so the threshold was then removed altogether.

As a result, while Germany has still retained a 5 percent threshold in its Federal Parliament, where five parties are represented, in the European Parliament, the seven parties that represented Germany before the changes, have now grown to 15, with seven of them – including the neo-Nazi German National Democratic Party – having only one member each.

In other words, concerns that removing or reducing the threshold under proportional electoral systems would undermine political stability through fragmentation and the rise of radical parties, has indeed been borne out.

If New Zealand’s five percent threshold was lowered, and it was easier for more extremist minor parties to hold the balance of power, then all of the concerns that are currently being raised by the critics of New Zealand First would be exacerbated.

Those critics have also been disapproving of New Zealand First’s insistence that the special votes had to be counted before coalition talks could begin. However, they need to remember that in the past, the special votes have had a profound impact on election results. In 1999, the 225,329 special votes pushed the Green Party over the threshold for Parliamentary representation, resulting in them gaining and other parties losing seven seats – one from New Zealand First, two from National, three from Labour and one from the Alliance.

There have also been criticisms about the timeframe of coalition negotiations, but the overseas experience with MMP shows that most coalitions take months to formalise, not weeks. The record is Belgium, which, in 2011, went 589 days without an elected government! That was even longer than in Iraq, which struggled in 2010 to form a government after the fall of Saddam Hussein, only managing to do so on day 249 of the stalemate. 

In Germany, which held its election the day after ours, coalition negotiations aren’t expected to deliver results until at least three months after the election. And in Holland, which held its election back in March, a ruling coalition still hasn’t been finalised. 

In New Zealand, the length of time between the election and the swearing in of a new government has varied from just over three weeks in 1999, to over eight weeks in 1996 – our first MMP Government. Over the last three elections, the formation of a National-led coalition has taken around four weeks.

One of the most notable aspects of our election was the demise of the Maori Party – at least from Parliament. Many commentators have argued that this was due to it becoming too close to the National Party through its coalition deals over the last nine years. While that may have had an impact, there are many other factors that have contributed to the Maori Party losing the support of voters on the Maori roll.

One that commentators don’t mention is the fact that much of what the Maori Party stands for is at odds with what most New Zealanders want – including most Maori. The Party’s ideology embraces the class system, tribalism, and racial privilege – “values” that are the antithesis of what it means to be a Kiwi: fairness, equality, humility.

The net result of the Maori Party’s agenda is a tribal elite that is doing very well for themselves, while disadvantaged Maori continue to struggle.

Quite simply, by becoming a vehicle for Maoridom’s elite, the Maori Party lost touch with the needs of its electorate base.

In fact it is likely that the Maori Party had become too radical for most Maori. At the start of the election campaign, Maori Party President Tukoroirangi Morgan outlined that the ultimate objective of their Maori supremacy agenda was to become a permanent Treaty ‘partner’ in Government: “The Maori Party represents the dreams and aspirations of all Maori who believe that we have a right to share political power and resources as was envisaged under ‘Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This year is … about sending a clear and undeniable message that the Maori Party is the only genuine and independent Maori voice in Parliament. We will not be subservient to the Pakeha and tokenistic Maori leadership in the mainstream political parties. Our wero and call to arms is Mana Motuhake – our right to shape our own destiny.”

As it turned out, however, most Maori voters did not support the Maori Party’s separatist approach, preferring instead to support the Labour Party candidates in the Maori seats and be part of the mainstream.

The Maori Party’s co-leader Marama Fox – who stands in both worlds with a Maori mother and European father – was scathing about voters on the Maori roll opting to vote for Labour: “What I think the whanau have done is they’ve gone back to the mothership, they’ve gone back like a beaten wife to the abuser who has abused our people over and over again… They want to go back to the age of colonisation, where the paternalistic parties of red and blue tell Maori how to live.”

Such was her anger on election night that she even refused to concede defeat: “I don’t concede because conceding means that we let red and blue government rule our people like they’ve done so for a hundred and fifty years. I don’t concede to that. Not ever. We’ll be back to fight another day.”

In fact, Marama Fox outlined the plan for shared sovereignty in a recent interview in the Listener: “In her vision, New Zealand would gradually move to its own unique form of governance, one that would abandon the Westminster model in favour of Maori customs, principles and values.”

She had ‘plotted it out’: “It would take 36 years – 12 election cycles – for a Maori sovereignty party to share government… it’s a radical vision… but if we believe in it, then we need to march towards it. The critical step in shifting New Zealand thinking is to make the Maori language a core subject in the country’s schools.”

Marama Fox argued that “people look at things differently once they’ve acquired te reo. It’s a world view. The Maori world view is different and that’s expressed in the language. The language unlocks our history and our thinking.”

In other words, the compulsory teaching of the Maori language is the key to imposing a Maori world view – and Maori supremacy – onto New Zealand. It’s no wonder sovereignty advocates are so strongly pushing for the compulsory teaching of the Maori language in schools. It’s a pre-requisite for their march to ultimate power.

While the Maori Party have lost their Parliamentary representation, it would be naive to think they will disappear.  No doubt they will return to activism while they rebuild their party in the hope of coming back as a more powerful force in three years time. That activism will include targeting the most impressionable members of our community, with a campaign to make Maori language compulsory in our schools – and continue to portray Maori as the chief victims of our history.

Meanwhile, the negotiations to form our new government are about to begin in earnest. Whether it will deliver a government of the left or the right, is anyone’s guess!


Do you believe MMP is better or worse than First Past the Post?

Vote x 120

*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120


I consider that MMP is a better solution than first past the post, BUT I consider that minority parties who may be involved in the next parliament should state their preferences prior to voting taking place. ie, we wil support such and such policies etc. etc. failure to comply with their original policies should result in dismissal from parliament. NZ is a country and needs positive policy to stay a competitive country in this world. Allan
Far less clear-cut result!! David
The country needs a Parliament where the ‘free’ exchange of ideas develops policy not the dictatorship of one party that may not represent the majority of the voting public. Maureen
Anything is better than FPP. Bryan
Simple. The majority get to rule. Neville
Businesses need stable Government.  Murray
2017 election more voted for change than for the status quo. The vote for change needs to be respected! Isabel
This a bit of a loaded question; it ignores STV as an option. That would be better than either of the other two. MMP is bad because it allows parties to select list candidates and insert them despite the electorates’ rejection of them. However, if Winston can bend either of the main parties to some of his bottom lines, we would all benefit. List MPs should not qualify for cabinet posts. Hugh
Around here we call MMP – Mickey Mouse Parliament. Speaks for itself. Gary
In theory MMP would be the better option – but in reality the toxic mix of extremely racist maori radicals on the one hand and disinterested, PC-intimidated non-maori on the other, has proved it to be a disastrous change. So much so, that NZ is now in real danger of losing democracy entirely, and that the maori radical agenda of replacing democracy with tribalism could be achieved. PROTECT OUR DEMOCRACY! WUNZ! m
Understandable because am a lifelong National voter. Russell
Would be OK if post election the party with most votes had first rights to form a government. Terry
We now have a small minority group dictating to the majority. The tail is wagging the dog. Sue
Non-elected party hacks like Alamein Koopu can get into Parliament. Surely that is proof that MMP has serious failings. Tony
I campaigned long and hard with and for Peter Shirtcliffe to try and stop MMP becoming our method of electing governments. What Peter said came to pass in the first MMP election and people hoped for better things when it bedded down but it has proved to be the worst system ever and I believe most voters want it changed. Another referendum is called for and quickly before the memory of this debacle fades Mike
First Past the Post is preferable but (like Switzerland) all new laws need to be subject to binding referendum.  Steve
FPP gave power theoretically to the elected politicians and thence to the parties.MMP shifts power to the parties and puts unelected people into parliament and into power. Howard
There is no definition now we have no idea who is in control. Andrew
As MMP is run at present I find it most undemocratic Elizabeth
It’s an absolute dog of a voting system. If we end up with a Labour/Greens/NZ First coalition how is that an accurate reflection of democracy? When will we ever learn? – we had the chance to throw it out in the last review.  Rex
But no political parties at all would be the best option – for a better democracy Independents only. Russell
I do not think there is a great deal of difference between the results of either electoral system to the average kiwi citizen. The problem is that in either case there are a very few in government who seem to have absolute control. Power becomes concentrated so the ideals of MMP are unable to benefit the average New Zealander. John
I am sick of the tail wagging the dog. Norm
I am VERY sorry I voted for MMP. I feel it was misrepresented.  Donald
We’re only in this situation because the Nats totally ignored mounting anger over mass immigration and the consequent housing crisis. Winston hoovered up several percentage points as a result. MMP worked as intended and punished the Nats (and not as heavily as it might have) for their arrogance. Brian
Tail wagging the dog. Pam
People aren’t educated about MMP, and I believe that’s why so many don’t vote… Andrew
What we have now is pathetic, all we will ever have with MMP is the tail wagging the dog. at least with FPP we know who to blame for Govt decisions so there’s no blaming the minority party  Stevo
It allows too many personal agendas, and for list people who are not responsible to voters.  Maurice
Democracy is majority rules, not the tail wagging the dog!!! David
Marama Fox is the ugly, radical face of MMP politics and I never want to see her or her ilk in parliament again. Subverting a nation’s language is totalitarianism-if Maori do not use it, why are our children & grandchildren subjected to this useless, horrible language as a school subject? Monica
Being held to ransom by some unrecognised party is nuts Warren
Dump MMP Leo
STV is even better because no one gets into Parliament unless the electorate votes them in. At the time of the Proportional Representation vote the politicians didn’t allow a choice of STV because they hoped that the unattractive MMP woud scare us back to FPP. That con trick failed! John
At least you can put up a candidate or party that has some of your values and if they pip past like NZ First then they have some clout to negotiate change where needed. Wayne
It is just not working so we would be better in going back to FPP or considering an alternative proportional voting system Rob
It gives better representation of the people, rather than one party’s ideologies. It forces those in coalition to respect the other partys’ electoral promises. To get better representation, 5% should be lowered. It would be easy, in a time of computerisation, to get the total party vote, and divide that by the number of seats, and make that the threshhold for representation. Beverley
Under FPP the minority is in charge. Under MMP parties have to work together to create a majority. FPP is not democratic. Nico
When 93% of the population didn’t vote for the individual that will decide who will govern that’s not democracy that’s stupidity. Peter
Polititions are only interested into getting into power. The press or anyone talks little about there policies. Have you heard in the press anything about superannuitants who vote for Winston not getting there $13 week increase if he goes with labour. On the Maori Party did they tell there people what a great deal National gave the for nine years no they think they will do better going with Labour, ungrateful. Norman
Much worse the tiny tail is now wagging the very large dog – ridiculous! Anne
It ain’t perfect, but it is better Donald
Sadly our political system is quite simply corrupt all parties put forward what they believe the people want. With no intention of doing it if elected. a rather better system would make it mandatory for the winning party to put into place what they promised if not put in place they wouild have to resign. I guarantee that would make them do what they had promised. No politician wants to lose their high paid high perked job. Allan
The editorial in the Press indicates clearly that there has not been a swing to the left. A system that puts at risk the votes of the majority and installs a government appointed by a representative of 7% of the voters is hardly an improvement on first past the post. Murray
MMP allows a very small minority to actually choose who our government will be. When we were sold the MMP system the driving arguement was that it would give minor parties a voice to represent them in parliament which I thought was fair enough. However in practice it has given the dominant minor party the power to actually pick the government. Richard
First Past the Post is the only way  Athol
Provided the electorates are independently and fairly established and reviewed, FFP will ensure those elected to parliament have been chosen by their peers and not selected at the whim of some party or pressure group. It is a proven system and eliminates delays in establishing government. Irvine
Historically there have been two natural political persuasions, the left and the right. After a FFP election the business of governing carried on. There is no room in any politics for small minorities to hold balances of power as is so clearly demonstrated at present. We need to press for a return to the FFP system. Colin
As history has shown, MMP has it’s downside too. I don’t agree with everything Australian, but their mode of election STV may be better than MMP. At least there should be no horse trading when electoral votes are finally counted. Ron
STV. Would have been a better way to go. Ash
The tail wags the dog. Loraine
STV is better than both. We had our chance to change the system in a referendem not so long ago but we seem to only complain now because NZF holds the balance of power. Russell
Totally disproportionate power to minor parties parties. Lew 
It has turned politicians into pathetic wimps. Mike 
We have a situation where one person with a party which won no electoral seats and gained a small proportion of the votes is holding unproportionate power. Is this hat voters wanted? Laurence
MMP is not Democratic David
At least the people who support the minor parties get some representation. Mike
The current post election debacle is consistent with the MMP system. We must get back to FPP! Walter
I certainly believe that FPP is infinitely superior to the results that MMP has given us. Where a minority party can force its will on the majority in order to maintain the Govt benches does not seem to be democratic. With FPP we had a result on election night was a certainty and we had a Govt that could govern and be held to their election commitments. Michael
MMP will always deliver a weak, watered down compromise of the will of the majority of New Zealanders. That is not democracy. Allan
FPP had caused excesses by the elected majority parties and the public felt the brakes should be put on the party in power. Winstone Peters has been a moderating influence each time he has been there.  Anon
At least we don’t have minority Governments running NZ  Anon
Unfair Barbara
I believe in proportional representation but believe the STV would give a better result. This should have been offered back when MMP was put forward. Deborah
It gives too much power to a minor car needed to form a government. John
Much, much worse. When I voted for it I thought I was voting for a system that would see open debate of all issues – not endorsement of expediency by backroom coalitions. We can still have that if the Electoral Act were altered to outlaw permanent coalitions. Mike
Insecure government, opinion poll determined policy, minority parties wield undue influence. Anthony
It is the least democratic of all options. Jack
The tail wags the dog Barbara
Unless voting is made compulsory I will never vote again. Lionel
fpp means accepting good and bad from leading party.mmp allows taking the best and weeding out the worst. Norm
All votes need to be heard. Gerard
Heaven forbid we go back to FPP. Mike
MMP gives the result that the “tail” wags the “dog” and therefore the minor partner has too much say and power. Keith
Under MMP New Zealand is governed by RACE and GREED …..We have far too many Die Hards in Parliament that should retire instead of fattening themselves on high pay packets and forget how they got there in the first place ….they also sit back and wait for things to happen without the right or perfect reason to suit those that are Voters that thought they may bring in new ideas that is for the good for all New Zealanders. I am fearful as to the future of this land of ours..in many ways and the next 3 years will prove it one way or the other. Marylin
Back to FPP. This is the party most New Zealanders voted for Dianne
This country is continuously held to ransom by marginal minor parties that at no time carry the peoples mandate but simply feed from the fringes of a confused electorates votes. Stewart
By a very small margin. MMP has not really delivered. I think that there is a greater population in Germany which makes all the difference David
National with the biggest percentage of voters should be involved in Government. Barry
Otherwise it is either National or Labour and no one else gets a look in. Arthur 
Crazy that the party who have the highest number of votes don’t automatically lead the country. Pat
Needs modification so that largest vote earner gets to choose which party it can work with to form a government.  Bill
MMP gives totally DISproprtional power to the wacky minorities. Totally ludicrous is the fact that Peters, despite being rejected by his true electorate, now holds the reins deciding, at his whim, who will reign. Auntie Podes
A joke Dave
It provides a means to reduce the possible extremism able to be imposed by a single party government Anthony
We end up having to pay a pack of wankers to sit in parliament and pass progressive statist left wing bullshit that will finally run this country into economic oblivion if left to their ill conceived agenda. Sam
NZ is in a position to influence our thinking about governance. In MMP there is no reason why the two higher voted “parties” cannot come together in coalition and that they each have members who have the wisdom and skill, working together to govern. It would demonstrate that they have to recognise there are a vast range of people who understand what the parameters of “wealth” means. Ken
I have always preferred First Past the post systems but have preferred to have it supported by a preferential voting component. Cyril
If MMP was adhered to properly as in the German way, whereby the Majority Party has the sole right to form a Government, then this system would be fine. Geoff
I believe First Past the Post is the only answer Ian
It brings greater balance and reflects the voters’ wishes a lot more. Karl
I never voted for it and I voted to get rid of it when that came up some years ago. Even though I have been a member of ACT for over 23 years I don’t like the fact that you cant get a government that can make a hard decision due to coalition partners who wont let them do something that might be unpopular The hard decisions are the one that help the country on the long run. Colin
Having voted for mmp I felt that first past the post was giving one party more control how wrong i was when you look at one minor party deciding nzs future.And if nzfirst go with a labour greens to form the next government then its a joke when you consider that national held the most seats and that is what the voting public wanted . If nz first go with national that to me is more democratic and is the logical choice. If the opposite hapens then Winstons reputation is destroyed and so is his party. Ken
Only just better. We really need more options like STV Jim
Worse, and if Winston goes with Labour, I fear for the future of NZ Carole 
The rules of the game are wrongly constructed. We should get rid of the party system altogether, go back to having a first past the post system in so far as the electorates are concerned. For example, any person could put themselves forward in their chosen electorate and which ever candidate wins the majority of the vote, that person would go to Parliament as the Representative for that electorate. This would mean that each electorate had one representative only. If we have 70 electorates, then we have 70 MP’s. Simple. I would also suggest that say only a maximum of 5 people could stand in each electorate and each candidate can only stand in one electorate. No double dipping. Dianna
Yes we voted on MMP 20 years ago but there are now 2 generations of NZ’ers who now have to follow and adhere to this way of voting. Is it what they want? Probably not. Open up the polls again, we their parents are the past, they are the future of this country. Toni
Any thing wold be better than MMP Jim
A classic example of the tail wagging the dog! Bill
Much, much worse, its just a debacle Don
In its current form.  Howard
One person should never have the power to select the governing body. This is not democracy. We live in a crazy country.  Gordon 
Tail wags the dog …. Maddi
It has brought in Parties with some differing views. Hugh
MMP is ridiculous.  Michael
MMP was voted for as recently as the Election in 2011with the proviso that it then be reviewed this happened and no notice was taken of the report back to Government. That was wrong but the MMP system were votes count is easily better than FPP which is only really practiced in a couple of countries these days because of its unfairness. Let’s see all the wonderful things that the NZ Party gets before we start believing they will achieve Nirvana. Jim
FPP may have some problems but it beats MMP hands down. Voters have the opportunity to get rid of MP’s and unpopular policies. Now we are stuck with them. We certainly don’t want a repetition of the Maori party. Alan
But it still needs attention ! Michael
What I find unbelivable is her eyou have a party with 10 seats more than any other party & are being held to ransom by the smaller parties, National should be forming the government with who they would like, This side of MMP is wrong. I is time all good Citizens of NZ sopke out about this so we get some change. Geoff
A minor party should not rule the roost over a majority party as happens with MMP. Ron
When major media can seriously call for a potential coalition between National and the communistic Greens (looking way past their environmental policies to those of racial and socialistic favouritism that would affect NZ for decades) there is something absolutely insane about MMP. Paul
If we had FPP I would would not bother voting. Roger
Well the current version of MMP is alot worse than FPP in that as at present and with last few elections the tail is certainly wagging the dog. FPP had some serious deficiencies though First the minor parties would not get a look in and the popular vote did not always show up in the House But if we got a bad government we could at least vote it out. I would like to see a hybrid system whereby there are 100 seats with the first 75 being electorate voted for with a preferential system ( As in Australia) and the balance of 25 seats being on the party vote. With the party vote only relating to the Party seats This would give the minor parties a say in Parliament with them unlikely to have the controlling balance of power as at present. Robin
NZ needs a small legislative upper house like the Legistavie Council in Tasmania. This would stop the bucket loads of crappy legislation ever making to the light of day. Frederick
Scrap MMP or make the minimum 10% not 5%. Donald
But I would like to see some analysis of how other proportional systems would have fared. I would never vote for a return of FPP but opne to other systems being discussed. John
Under FPP we had ocacasions when the Nats with about 40% less votes than lbour, obtained a majority of seats and absolute power. Most of us “safe” seats had absolutely no effect on the choice of govt. Bruce
You need MMP as Naational and labour are both the same as they believe in seperating our country with their apartheid policy. Ian
If National got in by first past the post it would carry on giving to maori whatever they wanted NOW they will be stopped. Cindy
Certainly never voted for it.. Deb
The compromise of SMP is worth a try. Warren
New Zealands population & small area is to small for MMP. Also to few parties to have a truly diverse opion. Connie
However,I do not like MMP — I & many people I know voted for STV, which is a far better system. Alan
MMP makes us subservient to the wishes of minor political parties who then when negotiation to be part of a government and when in government throw away many of the policies on which they were elected – a major party which has the majority vote but not final power then has to do the same thing to form a Government – just hopeless. Hylton 
MMP is not democracy. The country is run by minorities. It will end up in disaster.  Pierre
A comment attributed to Margaret Thatcher stated that “consensus is the negation of leadership” – this sums up MMP in a nutshell. If this election winds up as an absolute GAFU, I would not be blaming any particular politician – I would be blaming the bizarre MMP system which was sold to us under the false claim of “making your vote count.” In my opinion, MMP has been an unmitigated disaster and will continue to be so. Under the circumstances, reverting back to FFP might not be such a bad idea! Scott 
Clearly not much thought was given to the effect MMP would have, or was it? Harvey
Neither. FPP allows a major party to bulldoze what it wants through parliament; MMP allows tails to wag dogs as has been seen in the past 9 years. We need no party politics, 51 MPs, all elected by voters and able to respond to the needs of voters for the overall good of NZ, not themselves. There should be no career politicians, three terms should be maximum, and once they are out they receive no perks, just like people in real jobs. Alan
MMP in my opinion is a clearly failed system of electing our government. MMP consistedly delivers individuals to parliament who couldn’t win a seat in parliament to save their lives under the FPP system. Even worse, among these individuals are those who do no have the best interests of New Zealand as their priority. Perhaps itIs time to have another look at MMP with a binding referendum to decide the future of what have become Micky Mouse elections. At the very least potential coalition partners should be obliged to offer their support to the party which has the greatest public support.  Jim
You’re either in or out. No messing Chris
Abolish the Maori seats and MMP. NZ does not have a democracy at present with Winston given the sole decision making right to form the new government. Democracy means forming a Government from the party winning the most votes And ignoring the number who don’t vote for a party. That percentage is irrelevant and should be ignored. MMP allows all sorts of Members of Parliament with strange and way out, impractical ideas and if the vote percentage is lowered from 5% it will get worse.  Chris
The flea wags the tail that wags the dog. David
MMP has enabled parties like the Greens to use the system to have list only members. Roger
For too long we’ve had a radical tail wagging a compliant dog! Brenda
Although I voted ‘Better’ it is actually difficult to make a clear decision. With MMP you dit with the situation with the flea wagging the tail which in turn is wagging the dog. But with FPP the danger is there that an extremist party can win an election using violence, e.g. the ANC in South Africa. Ursula
Flawed as it might be, at least FPP delivered a clear majority with fewer disgruntled voters after an election. Geoff
MMP has really hurt NZ. It has been a total disaster and should be abandoned Neil
MMP does not let your vote count where you want it to .. We don’t need 100 member of Parliament = more dissent and less efficiency. Robyn
We need a ground swell of Deplorables to take our country back. NZ, in a physical sense, has potential but lacks a mature political system to bring out mature leadership, not some system where a minor culture is rammed down your throat every day of the week that holds back our country through manufactured guilt endorsed by our brian washed politicians. How about a Deplorable Party? Mike
Too much power is given to minority parties and the majority are ignored. Cherry
MMP allows minor parties to exert undue influence by giving them the balance of power. Mark
MMP hasn’t made for better government Gillian
Not MMP as it is at present time. A change is needed. Iain
MMP is less democratic mmp always has the tail wagging the dog. the disasteras RMA is a good example!! Les
Unprintable Russ
Other policy viewpoints other than the majority party have to be taken into account. However, some refinement is needed. Ross
I am fed up with the tail wagging the dog. Major parties are being forced to accept ideas and concepts that they, and most of New Zealand would not even consider from parties that have a very small support base, but hold a balance of power. It is time to dump MMP. Robbie
Too much power for small parties. Andrew
MMP should be better than first past the post, but the current implementation is allowing the TAIL TO WAG THE DOG. If citizens initiated referenda was allowed on important issues, with a majority of 67per-cent of the voting population making it binding, then we would have a return to DEMOCRACY.. A.G.R.
Just check the only other countries that have an MMP electoral system and the answer is obvious. Chris
MMP gives minority parties far too much power relative to their number of votes cast usually ending up with ministerial seats when they have only a handful of votes. Gareth
Only half the seats should be allocated by proportional vote, the other half should be electorate seats. Minor parties would then be unlikely to wield disproportional power as one party government would be easier to achieve. For example, a party gaining 34 electorate seats and 45% of the vote would receive at least 61 seats in a 120 seat house. Parties would also be encouraged to fight for electorate seats rather than doing deals. Alan
I don’t think either system really delivers a “democratic” result. STV seems to me better suited to the NZ political and constitutional environment. MMP works well in federal nations with larger populations: NZ is neither federal in nature, nor sufficient in population to make MMP work “democratically”. FPP certainly has flaws in terms of “democratic principles” as there are many examples of a minority of votes holding the greater number of seats, thus forming the government. Go for STV, get rid of the non-accountable list seats, reduce the House of Representatives to 80 constituency members, re-introduce the Upper House (Senate) with 21 elected members – 1 from each NZ province plus a Speaker.  Andrew
I believe it should be individual votes win, NOT seats, so the party that gets the most VOTES wins, Not how many seats they get. Ned
MMP sounds good in theory and does in fact have something going for it, but it doesn’t entirely work out in practice, and while FPP isn’t the whole answer either I think it is the better of the two options. Sheila
The minority parties have far too much power. Increase the threshold to 10% or more. It could therefore reduce the ridiculous number of parties to no more that 4. Another fault with MMP is how easy a person with no experience can get into Parliament through the list system. Frank
We the country, have ended up with a dictator lead government, with a very much minority. Charles
At least with first past the post things get done – and we weren’t given an informed choice at the time. Pressure was brought to bear for MMP or first, others were laid aside in all promotion. Shane
At least you know what will happen after the voting. from promises of both parties. William
mmp creates chaos John
If there are more than 2 parties holding electorate seats in FPP, it is still feasible and possible for the final government to be a coalition.  Alan
MMP is part of the Zionist plan to disenfranchise the public at large Bob
MMP produces shambolic results as we have now. Darryl
The party that gains the most electorate seats based on their election policies should be the governing party.  Kathy
List members should not exist. All MP’s MUST be voted in John
Winston has proven the fact that with our type of MMP, the tail can wag the dog. It is undemocratic Lloyd
I think we need a better system than APP but under MAP it should be the party with the most votes who invites another party to go I to coalition, not the way we have now when a party of 7% can dictate to the other 90 odd %. Chris
Much better, but we need to get rid of the convention that a PM has to have guaranteed support on confidence and supply, Let the leader of the largest Party be PM, & executive head of government. If his cabinet wanted to change the law, they would have to seek approval from a majority of MPs. It’s called “separation of powers” 🙂 Don
This video for children succinctly explains the short comings of First Past The Post https://youtu.be/s7tWHJfhiyo While this video explains MMP in greater detail https://youtu.be/QT0I-sdoSXU. If you genuinely believe FPP to be better than MMP then I don’t think you understand what democracy is about Lyndon
Too many noses in the trough, to many incompetent folks, New Zealand can’t afford this. Beryl
Supplementary Member system is best as it is halfway between FPP & Proportional Representation John
Sadly, too many of us thought a change to MMP would be good for the country. In reality, it has attracted every fringe and idiot party such as the The Greens,( who believe it is ok to lie and commit benefit fraud) and has cost the country millions of dollars in wasting our time. Just the increase in the number of seats in Parliment, which are NOT needed is costing the country millions. Gareth Morgan is another perfect example of why we should NOT have MMP, not mention, The Mana Party, whose leader is proud of his 30 plus criminal convictions. Every low life loser seems to think that it is their right to form a party to simply to disrupt the system. Sue Bradford and the “anti smacking bill” deserves a mention as, parents can no longer exercise authority over their children. That opens up a whole new topic! MMP is not working. Des
Get rid of iry Cutty
I hate being governed by parties I didn’t vote for, and especially being held to ransom by any very minor party. Mike
Sick of minor parties having such a large influence on the Govt. Nei 
It is not democratic with small parties having power far outweighing their proportion of votes received Lyn
Absolutely no stability  Peter
FPP led to minority governments just as MMP does (though less often) but, this the crunch.. MMP is far more exciting! And, unlike some countries, we have a Gov. General to force a relatively quick decision. Tim
FPP does not allow for the variety of views that people hold. STV would have been better than MMP, but we did not get that, so MMP is the best we have. Claire
Everyone one in parliment should be elected by the people within the district they represent. The LIST MP is a joke. We have a result that has NZ First in a major role of influence when their Leader didn’t even win in his own electorate. We need to rid ourselved of MMP ASAP – it really is a nonsense. Mike
…all the low -life politicians engaging in under cover ” wheeling and dealing ” for their OWN interests… it’s about DEMOCRACY not corruption …. CHowes
Party with minor vote percentage have unequal power  Kevin
Definitely David
FPP is a dictatorship in sheeps clothing. Peter
We now have a dictatorship not democracy. David
I believe we were properly con’ed with the initial MMP vote – even many of the subsequent MPs did not fully understand it – I believe Bolger hoodwinked the electorate – we do need a fair proportional system since FPP give ultimate power and that certainly used to corrupt. Rob
List system a big drawback for me. Graham
The tail wags the dog a grand alliance between national@labour would be fairer Murray
I’m sick of the minority and radical parties being able to dictate policy to the parties that have been voted for by most New Zealanders. Dump MMP Steve
MMP obviously is not working correctly. if the majority of people wanted Winston Peters in Government they would have voted for him, now no matter who he goes with New Zealand ends up with something the majority didn’t want! Andrea
Preferential with 120 electorates would be better. No list MPs. Maybe a Senate as well? Graeme 
I’m ashamed to say I voted for MMP Graeme
FPP is less open to manipulation and less friendly towards minority groups with crackpot agendas. John
The first time that I bothered to vote (and I had lived in New Zealand since 1958) was to vote against MMP because I realized that it would lead to weak Governance where election promises would be broken in order to reach a compromise. Trevor
Perhaps a preferential system as in Australia has some value in the conversation? Colin
MMP means every vote counts whereas FFP has lots of voters with zero impact. The price of MMP is delay in forming a govt, and obviously the impact of smaller parties. Jeremy
We’ve had far too much of the tail wagging the dog; the absurd situation, whereby the Maori Party more or less dictated to the National Party regarding a separatist agenda, should be more than adequate notice that this can’t be allowed to happen again. Perhaps STV would be a viable option, but it’s quite likely that the majority of people simply wouldn’t understand it – after all, many seem unable to grasp even the basics of MMP. The comments about the Maori Party are spot on: it seems that we now have a situation in which the glorification of primitivism is de rigeur; heaven forbid that the racist Maori Party should ever get back into parliament.  Graham
But we need people’s assemblies too John
Much much worse!! The problem with holding a referendum now is that many young people who were too young to remember FPP wrongly think that it is okay to have the tail wagging the dog. FPP had its downside too but not nearly as far down as MMP which seems to remove our democracy and put our country in the hands of the politicians. They then ignore the people and do whatever it takes to stay in power even if it is against the best interests of the country as a whole. Helen
We need the Swiss system in that if bad law is passed then it can be dealt to with binding referendum Ian
I Voted National but gave my party vote to NZF as it looked like Labour might win. I hoped that Peters would be a bit of a ‘handbreak’ on Labour’s more extreme agenda – If Peters now goes with Labour and the Greens He will NEVER get my vote again and I strongly suspect hundreds and thousands of other strategic voters will also black list New Zealand First. James
The only problem is the action of coalition, which ends up giving the country a quasi-first past the post government. There should be no coalitions. The problem is NZ still hasn’t figured out HOW to be democratic and FPP is not democratic, nor are coalition governments. Bryan.
We have lacked decisive government and a progression of muddled left thinking since the introduction of mmp. Willy
I think the single transferable vote would be better although it may take time to educate people to understand how it works. Margaret
First past the post is better as the person standing got in on the votes they got. No list MP’s.  Robert
You want to get in be voted in. Jimmy
We Need to get rid of MMP its a croc… Carl
Both systems are a bloody joke! Kelvin
British Columbia NDP coalition in conjunction with the Green party has initiated a move to a referendum on MMP they have lowered the threshold from 60% to 51% in the hope of introducing BC to MMP. This would be a disaster for the Province as it apparently has proved in N.Z.  Norman
MMP has proved beyond all doubt that the toxic tail gets to wag the dog. Epic fail. John
It’s not working as it’s supposed to and it doesn’t anywhere else in the world Peter
There is too much tail wagging the dog Colin
As pointed out the result is less power to to a voter once the vote is cast. Self interest is the driving factor for many who believe the expedient bribery and promises made to lure them in. Max
Map doesn’t produce a stable govt. Ian
I am sick of people who I have no idea about nor have they been elected becoming seat warming non contributing non descript List MP. A waste of time and space. ROB 
There is too much power wielded by minority. Doug
Stops politicians from boundary loading of the electorates. Bruce
Very few understood what MMP really meant meant when it was first introduced. Maybe they do now! Annette
I didn’t vote for it and with each election I dislike MMP all the more. Murray
Because the country is held to ransom by minority Parties–hence weak compromise Legislation to remain on the Treasury benches. Jack 
STV makes every candidate face the electors and eliminates the unaccountable list and wasted votes. Brett 
Why should 7% of the vote have all the say! Ron
With FFP the voter knew on election night which party won the election. The tail (minor parties)has too often wagged the dog under MMP. I voted for MMP but am disappointed with the end result. Tony
This hung parliament is not good for certainty and the economy Graeme
Rob Muldoon was dictatorial John
Parliament has become a House of Cards. Keith
Both have their problems! To really get the feel of the peoples wishes the Swiss system would be heaps better than this mish mash Collin
Tail wagging the dog will never work!!! Caro
They should raise the bar to 10% then elections would be closer to FPTP Dorothy
Need to dump both FPP & MMP JR
The party with most votes may end up with no say Barry
Although I would vote for STV, I believe that MMP has been disastrous for NZ and hopefully we shall now see the demise of racist politics should Winston stick to his bottom line and secure a referendum on the Maori seats. Phil
The party vote partially negates the representative vote and the political parties have learned to manipulate things to their advantage while becoming less accountable to the electorate. Paul
Should never have been introduced. I feel it is unlikely to change for the better. Tim
It should have been STV that way every vote counted.  Brian 
The majority have spoken. Ian
In an unconstitutional mixed economy like ours of socialism and capitalism, MMP tends to favour moving more towards the left while FPP in a constitutional free market capitalist economy is the best. Never forget that an unlimited majoritarian democracy (.ie. non constitutional) gives people the power to vote away their freedom! Don
Much the same – NZ First could still hold the balance of power in FPP Neville
It%u2019s far worse. You can%u2019t get rid of party hacks who are well past their use by date. They keep on side with their party mates and have a job for life. Democracy??? Alan
Why do we not have the option of neither satisfactory, Since both are demonstrably flawed. We need reform of the system. Maybe we should start with a 10% threshold and three electoral seats as the minimum for a governing coalition party. Richard
Under MMP we are held to ransom by novices. David
First past the post was much better than MMP because smaller parties could not hold the major party to ransom. MMP is a dreadful compromise and governments are no longer accountable to voters.  Josh
I think it’s time for another review of the voting system but this time it should be between MMP and FPP.   Wayne
MMP is useless. Trevor
Last time there was a review of MMP, National skewed it so that MMP would win by introducing confusing voting options that no-one understood. It should be a straight up race between MMP and FPP. Bryan
The system we have now is hopeless – give me first past the post anyday.  Julie


By Bruce Moon

Democracy is an elusive topic to define and many an allegedly democratic regime may not be so on close examination.

The first principle of democracy is that everybody has a vote – universal suffrage. The second is, or ought to be, that all votes are of equal value; the third that the majority rules. It is not always, or even often, that this is so.

Because – any structure imposed on the voting system distorts it. With all of the electoral college votes of a state in American presidential elections (with few exceptions) going to the party getting the most votes, no matter how small the popular majority, the result may be anomalous. Clinton got more votes; Trump became president. The system elected Trump, not the people.

Before the days of modern communications and parliamentary parties, clearly representatives elected in the regions were desirable and FPP was an adequate method but today it grossly distorts outcomes in favour of the two largest parties.

It is doubtful whether Theresa May would be British Prime Minister if it were not for the primitive single member electorate “first past the post” system they retain there. Time and again in Britain, a party with a minority of popular votes has gained a majority of House of Commons seats. Very clearly, not all citizens’ votes are of equal value. The system decides who governs, not the people.

The same has happened in New Zealand. Thus, in the FPP elections in 1978 and 1981 we had:

Year                      National      Labour     Social Credit

1978 Vote share      39.8%          40.4%          16.1%

            Seats             51                 40                1

1981 Vote share      38.8% `       39.0%          20.7%

            Seats             47                 43                2

The distortions are obvious. The system (FPP) decided who governed, not the people. The party with the most votes was shut out of government entirely; that which came second was able to govern with unbridled power with three-fifths of voters having policies imposed on them that they did not want – at that time “Think Big” – and one fifth getting only a minute representation.

Both Muriel Newman and Karl du Fresne speak of the “perversities” of MMP (NZCPR Newsletter, 7/10/17). They are trivial compared with those created by FPP.

Nor is the task of getting a majority in government a rare and anomalous situation. How Abraham Lincoln achieved a majority for the abolition of slavery is quite a saga. That John McCain, a man of principle, thwarts Republican efforts to abolish “Obamacare” is all part of the stuff of politics.

That John Key and Bill English in turn obtained a parliamentary majority with the support of the minnow Maori party by kowtowing to many of its racist demands – over the foreshore and seabed and control of water resources amongst them – is a sordid story of recent politics but it is not the fault of MMP.

Following a referendum, the Bolger government, to its credit, established a Royal Commission to examine the electoral system and it got a very thorough report recommending MMP. Parliament, however, could not resist fiddling and added the idiotic “coat-tailing” provision whereby a party with one electorate MP could get additional MPs without meeting the 5% threshold which would otherwise apply. Thus in 2014 the Maori Party got an extra MP (Marama Fox) and racism was the winner. Note also that a Commission review of MMP had recommended the removal of this provision but John Key contemptuously rejected it.

Let us put the blame for the “perversities” of MMP fairly where it lies – in the lap of politicians.

Du Fresne who asserts that: “English was nominally a clear winner on election night” shows that his own thinking is still in an obsolete FPP mode. A possible coalition, supported by the votes of a majority of New Zealanders, which excluded the National Party entirely, would not have been unreasonable. A coalition of National and New Zealand First with an amalgam of the policies of both, and Winston Peters having no more than a proportional share of the power, is a fair and reasonable choice, given the results at the ballot box. The near-hysteria of many commentators – in the “Listener for example – in the inter-regnum (which Peters has learnt to keep brief – and been criticised in turn for that!) is something which has done them no credit.

Bruce Moon is a a retired computer pioneer who wrote “Real Treaty; False Treaty – The True Waitangi Story”.