Tuesday, August 14, 2012

MMP review: The venality of politicians

The Electoral Commission has spoken on MMP, and while I think they've made a mistake, fortunately its not the last word. First, there's another round of submissions before a final report is handed over to the government. And then the real fun will begin as Parliament considers whatever changes the government puts forward. Our politicians are a venal, self-interested lot - last time remember they imposed a 5% threshold essentially to limit political competition - and they're already demonstrating that again with ACT and United Future coming out strongly against any effort to remove the one-seat rule (which is the basis for their deals with the government; without the hope of extra MPs, there's no reason for anyone to cut a deal with these one-seat wonders). Which puts National in an interesting position, effectively wedged between the Electoral Commission and its own coalition partners. And the mere fact that Labour is backing the Electoral Commission's recommendations (out of its own venal desire to eliminate ACT and United Future) puts National under more pressure to disagree and make changes.

The most likely change is that National will do everything but eliminate the one-seat rule. Which ironically means that the result of all this venality and selfishness will be a slightly better system than that proposed by the Electoral Commission. Of course, its still not good enough - I want to see that threshold lowered, and eventually eliminated, so that there can be maximum representation (within the arbitrary limit of the size of Parliament) and proper political competition - but that's a long game, which we probably won't win until enough of the authoritarian FPP generations are dead and buried.