Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Supplementary Member is FPP dressed up

Another voting system proposed as an alternative to MMP is Supplementary Member, or SM (official explanatory video above). It’s nothing more than First Past the Post (FPP) dressed up to look like a proportional system. It isn’t.

Under SM, the two main parties, Labour and National would dominate Parliament, almost always governing alone, just like FPP. Unlike FPP, small parties would have some representation in Parliament, but it would be a tiny fraction of their level of support among voters.

SM’s party vote would go to determine a party’s share of the 30 seats in Parliament (one quarter of all seats) set aside for that—regardless of how many electorate seats they’d won. So, if a party won 10% of the party vote, but no electorate seats, they’d get only three seats. That’s only 2.5% of the seats in Parliament, despite having 10% support of the voters. That’s just nuts.

Under MMP, the proportion of seats in Parliament is determined by the party vote. If a party has 10% of the party vote, it has 10% of the seats, and any electorate seats won are included in that total.

So, SM is slightly more democratic than FPP, but it is a pale, pale imitation of the real proportionality of MMP.

Pragmatic rightwingers like National Party leader John Key favour SM because it would give them one-party rule, which they want, while keeping a thin veneer of proportionality so as to sneak it by ordinary voters. The rightwing hopes that ordinary voters won’t notice that the Parliaments SM would deliver would be about as unrepresentative as the ones under FPP were. Basically, Key and the other conservatives know that the public doesn’t want FPP, so hope they’ll go for the FPP-lite that is SM.

So, just like FPP, I completely reject SM as an option. That leaves two other options, both of which have some merit, but I’ll discuss them in another post. Regardless, I’m voting to Keep MMP.

For official information on the referendum, go to www.referendum.org.nz
For information from the campaign to Keep MMP, go to www.keepmmp.org.nz

No comments: