Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Switching to STV?

One of my complaints about local body elections in Palmerston North is the city's use of the outdated block-vote system, which gives disproportionate power to a narrow plurality. Now, it looks like that might be about to change, with the council's planning and policy committee voting to switch to STV. The decision still needs to be confirmed by the full council, but its a good first step. Unfortunately, there may be a democratic clawback:

And Cr Pat Kelly's support for the change is qualified. He said STV was better suited to city-wide elections rather than voting in wards, and he supported retaining the ward system.

However, decisions about how many councillors there should be and whether they should be elected at large or to represent wards cannot be made until next year.

STV works perfectly well within a ward system, provided the wards are multi-member - which is certainly the case in Palmerston North. But a faction of the council has been pushing for a move to at-large voting to further empower business and wealthy candidates, and cut out everyone else. It would be a shame if the switch to a fairer voting system saw them get their way.

Meanwhile, it looks like we won't be getting local Maori seats. I guess the council - largely made up of old white men - just doesn't see the need to ensure representation for anyone who isn't like themselves.