Thursday, September 22, 2005

Prebble on MMP

So, Richard Prebble thinks MMP should be dumped because it "robbed" the right of victory on Saturday night. Well, only if you count United and NZ First as part of the right. In one sense, this is justified, as both are certainly right-leaning - but OTOH, both have also consistently proclaimed that they could go either way, and in fact would try and work with the largest party. What cost the right the election then was not MMP, but National's inability to work properly with parties which should be its natural allies. That, and the fact that not enough people voted for them.

It's also worrying when one political faction advocates changing the electoral system purely to advantage themselves. That's the sort of thing that goes on in Africa - or Italy - not a mature democracy like New Zealand. But then, the neo-liberal faction of the right (of which Prebble is a prime representative) was always contemptuous of democracy, viewing it as an impediment to "reform", so its not really surprising that they're advocating a return to a system under which they were able to run rampant and lord it over all of us with only 35% of the vote.


United and NZ First are probably not centre parties due to idiology, but rather through pragmatism: It allows them to go with whatever Government gets elected.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2005 12:14:00 PM

and it's a stretch to call NZF right anyway.. a fair part of winne's userbase was threatening to walk if he didn't support labour.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2005 12:15:00 PM

The linked New Zealand Herald article includes this gem: “MMP was undemocratic and let MPs return on party lists even though voters had rejected them.”

Richard Prebble lost in Wellington Central but remained because he was on top of ACT’s list.

Don Brash wasn’t running in any electorate, but returns to parliament because he is at the top of the National’s list.

Please, let us improve MMP by incorporating STV!

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2005 01:23:00 PM

I think MMP (proportional rep) and STV both have their places - but they are not designed to solve the same problems - proportional rep is great if you are trying to elect members to represent all of us to a large body (say parliament) while STV is great for electing individuals to a body (say an electorate seat or mayor).

Think about it this way - the way STV works out is that if your vote isn't counted because it's a minority your second choice is used - now supposing you're tryint to choose whoever will sit in that 120th electorate seat and there are 10k labour votes left over that weren't assigned to an existing candidate (chances are there will be a lot for one large party or the other) - which of the votes are 'left over' is entirely arbitrary and as a result so will be their second choices - do you choose the labour votes who's second choice was green? national? some at random? some wighted average of all labour voters (none of these are something you could ever do on election night)

I think if what you're trying to do is reduce the 'wasted vote' then reducing the 5% threshold to 1/120th (or even 1/240th since that last seat is essentially FPP) solves your problem in a much simpler manner.

STV has 2 big problems - it's hard to implement (online/electronic voting systems have been world-wise notoriously bad at getting it right) - and it's hard to explain easily to everyone


Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2005 04:30:00 PM

without MMP Act would have died many moons ago, what a hypocrit!

it's kind of like saying you need to change the rules of chess just because you don't always win. the point is to get better at the game you are playing, not to try to rig it in your own interests.


Posted by Span : 9/22/2005 05:02:00 PM

Grrrrr...I second that.

If Mr Prebble is refering to a return to FPP it is worth remembering that under FPP Labour lost 2 elections in the 1970s despite receiving more votes on the night. So FPP is hardly a solution. And, apparently, Peters' voters were split 50/50 as to whether they preferred Labour or National - once you take that into account that's hardly a victory for the right.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2005 06:20:00 PM

STV with MMP would allow voters to give their first choice to the party they actually preferred while hedging that with secondary choices in case their first choice didn't pass some threshold.

For instance, it would have allowed voters who preferred the Greens to actually vote for the Greens without having to worry whether that would end up being a wasted vote if the Greens didn't reach the threshold.

Likewise, it would have allowed voters who preferred ACT to actually vote for ACT without worrying whether it would end up being a wasted vote if Rodney didn't succeed.

With STV for electorate seats, Labour voters in Epsom could have given their first preference to the Labour candidate, but their second preference to the National candidate if they were wanting to block Winston Peters.

And as to the question "Whose second preferences do you use?", there are well-defined procedures that basically transfer the proportion of each vote that is not needed for the first preference into the second preference, and so forth.

Computers can give you the results when all of the counting is done, and that can be verified again for making it official.

In some cases, projections can be made with a partial count, but that is not generally the case, but those would probably be no more wothwhile than the projections under the current arrangement. STV for MMP would mostly affect minor parties, and with a threshold you are probably needing nearly final results anyway to know the result.

By the way, the early returns in this election were essentially useless. I didn't flip on the TV on Saturday night until about 90% of the count was in. I figured it was pointless to worry before then about the numbers.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2005 06:29:00 PM

You can't really use STV with single member electorates in this day and age, it's at least 100 years out of date.
It does work alright with multi-member (at least eight per seat) electorates, as the results are basically a mix of proportional representation and proper Condorcet methods. Still not really woth the change over MMP, IMO.

If we're to stick with single-member electorates (which work acceptably within the MMP structure), have a look at various Condorcet methods. They all have much the same effect; to pick the natural comprimise candidate, and most make tactical voting impossible to use predictably, making everyone have no real reason not to vote sincerely.

Posted by tussock : 9/22/2005 11:16:00 PM

On the other hand having somewhat more pragmatic right wingers has landed Australia with seemingly endless right-wing government.

Posted by Rich : 9/23/2005 10:58:00 AM

I think people in NZ often use the term STV to mean generic preferential voting. Transfering proportions of votes doesn't apply to MMP with preferential voting. And from the voter's point of view, the way the vote is counted doesn't matter, all they need to know is rank the choices.

Preferential voting is very, very simple and anybody incapable of understanding it is incapable of making an informed vote. Computer terminals for voting (that print out a completed ballot paper, rather than storing the results electronically) could make it even easier. "Please select your first choice from this list." [voter makes choice] "Thank you. It is possible that your first choice will not pass the threshold; do you want to select a second preference?" [voter either selects another choice or prints the ballot]

Condorcet is indeed the way to go for vote counting in electorates. The party vote counting is simpler: If any party remains below the threshold, eliminate the lowest-polling party and reallocate its votes to the voters' next choices. Repeat untill all parties are either eliminated or pass the threshold.

Calculating provisional results from preferential voting on election night is easy, even if we were dealing with true STV and a weighted average of all Labour voters. Once the data is entered, the calculations are trivial. An electorate with 25,000 votes would take just seconds on a halfway decent computer.

How could not ranking a candidate help them?

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 9/23/2005 11:25:00 AM

Not sure if pointing out someone else’s hypocrisy is really sufficient to defend one's own hypocrisy.

Posted by Genius : 9/23/2005 08:29:00 PM