Monday, October 31, 2011

Election 2011: 4) Which System?

At the election we get a vote on what electoral system we want. We will be asked two questions: 1) Do we want to keep MMP or not? 2) If not, which system: MMP, FPP, PV, STV, SM. 


We all know what MMP is: 120 MPs, 70 electoral MPs we vote in with one vote—the most votes wins; 50 who get in on the list depending on proportion of the vote. This yields coalition government, compromise, moderate consultative governments. It gives room for more voices. It forces NZ politics always to the middle. It has been around now for about twenty years and while we have had some fun and games forming governments, it has yielded stable government and NZ. Its weakness is that the minor parties can wield disproportionate power.


First Past the Post (FPP) is well known to older kiwis, one vote per person, 120 electoral MPs, winner takes all. This tends to polarize politics like the US Republican—Democratic system. The voices at the margins tend to get consumed in the huge party machines. It can get a government elected with less votes than the opposition. It is simple but does not require the same level of consultation and compromise.


Preferential Voting (PV) and Single Transferable Vote (STV) are systems whereby, when we go into vote, we get one vote and it is not picking a candidate, we rank the candidates by preference, 1, 2, 3, etc. We use this in local body elections for some positions in Auckland. It means you need to know all the candidates really well, something I found hard when I voted in Auckland recently. The differences between PV and STV come down to how the votes are processed.


In PV if a candidate has over 50% of the 1's, they are in. If not, the person with the least 1's is removed, and the 2's come into play added to their 1's. This goes on until someone cracks 50%, and they take the seat.


In STV, people are ranked as with PV. However there are less electorates (24–30) and multiple MPs from each electorate (3–7). A quota is worked out which a person must cross to get voted. Then the same system in PV is used to work out who cracks the quota. It seems rather complicated to me.


SM is similar to MMP except there are way fewer list MPs (30) and they are worked out differently. There are 90 electorates, and we get to vote for a local MP. The other 30 MPs are from lists decided by the percentage of the party vote. So 10% of the vote will not yield 12 MPs overall as in MMP's but 3 MP's. This means we get a bit of a MMP and coalition feel, but the minor parties has less of a say in the system. It kind of brings together FPP and MMP.


Which is more 'Christian?' Well, that is hard to say, and perhaps impossible. One could argue systems that force consultation reflect the Christian ideal of working together in partnership, but they also lead to compromise. So, I suggest you pray, think and vote—when the dust has settled, get on working for restoration within whatever system NZ decides.


In yesterday's Sunday Herald 30/10/2011 a poll made it look like MMP is here to stay: 57.2% said yes to MMP. Only 27.6% said no to MMP. While 26.9% said not sure/do not know. For me, I think I will go either MMP or SM. What about you?


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