Monday, December 20, 2010

Kiwis back MMP

A new TV One/Colmar Brunton poll has found that 50 per cent of New Zealanders are in favour of keeping MMP, with 41 per cent opposed and 9 per cent undecided. This is the third Colmar Brunton poll over the last five years indicating most want to keep MMP.

MMP, or Mixed Member Proportional representation, is the easiest, fairest and most democratic voting system I’ve ever seen. The system is designed so that Parliament precisely reflects the wishes of voters, and after five elections under the system, New Zealanders are getting the hang of it.

Next year, at the general election, voters will be faced with a referendum asking whether they want to retain MMP and, if not, what they’d replace it with (from a list of options, and regardless of how they voted in the first question). If MMP wins the first round, the Electoral Commission will review it and give the Government suggestions on any changes it thinks should be made. If it does not win the first round, in 2014 (the next general election) it will face off against the top-polling alternative.

I like MMP and prefer it to systems such as STV, preferential voting, instant run-off, etc. MMP is one thing the others are not: Proportional. That means that minority and even marginal segments of society are represented when they simply couldn’t and wouldn’t be under any other system—especially the antique “first past the post” system used in most of the US and for Congressional elections.

MMP isn’t perfect and it certainly has room for improvement, but those are things that reasonable people can come to an agreement about. Keeping a system that guarantees proportional representation is the first step, and the biggest segment of New Zealanders agrees with that much at least. It’s a good first step.


Roger Owen Green said...

The problem I'd see for MMP in the US, e.g., would be that minority representation - which we have in gerrymandered Congressional districts, would be seen as a a "quota" system and "not fair". That's why I support STV or IRV here. but if MMP works there, cool.

Arthur Schenck said...

That's it exactly, Roger: What works for the place. MMP works well in New Zealand, but may not be best for other places. In fact, I'm urging folks in the US to back STV or IRV as the best way to guarantee citizen power, not corporate power.

The dynamics are different in New Zealand, which is why we can afford to concentrate on proportional representation.