Auckland, September 29, 2017
The Conservative Party wants to thank everyone who voted for the Party in the election for their unwavering support in the face of huge pressure to vote for a winner rather than for a Party that best represents their values.
MMP is supposed to provide proportional representation in Parliament for all sectors of society, but when an election is turned into a two horse race, albeit with one of the horses being a conjoined twin, fear mongering and manipulation can rob us of the benefits intended with such a system.
Royal Commission Report
If the Report of the Royal Commission on the Electoral System 1986, which recommended the implementation of the MMP system, was implemented in its fullness, the Maori Party would still be represented in Parliament, as the Report recommended there should be a 4% threshold in general, but that there should be no threshold for a Maori Party. It also recommended the abolishing of the Maori seats under this system, as Maori would be represented in proportion to the number of votes given a Party such as the Maori Party.
The Report also suggested that there may come a time when there is a case for the 4% threshold be waived for parties representing other minority ethnic groups. The makeup of New Zealand society has changed dramatically since 1986, and perhaps it is time to look at this system again. Neither Maori representation nor the wasted vote issue were considered in the review of 2011.
Single Transferable Vote
If a threshold is to be maintained, then to overcome the fear of the “wasted vote” a single transferrable vote could be provided for the Party vote only. If a Party failed to reach the threshold based on voters’ first choice, then the voter’s second choice would prevail, rather than it being “wasted” and effectively distributed in proportion to the results of those Parties who exceeded the threshold. In that case it would never be wasted.
This election saw every minor Party decrease its share of the vote significantly from the previous election. The rejection of minor Parties in this way was never the intention when MMP was introduced. Indeed, exactly the opposite was intended. Clearly the system in its current form is failing us. The Report also stated that “Democracy demands that interests be given their due weight…. and that they be adequately and fairly represented.” Some change is needed to see this happen.
Again, thank you for standing with us in a system that has been abused and used against minor Parties seeking to gain recognition and representation of a smaller but significant proportion of concerned New Zealanders. We seek to learn from this and move forward with greater wisdom.
Leighton Baker is Leader of the Conservative Party of New Zealand based in Auckland.