Monday, September 22, 2014

The threshold has to go

Another election, and once again we've been reminded of the unfairness the two major parties built into MMP in an effort to stack it for themselves and prevent competition. ACT got 14,510 votes and one seat in Parliament, while the Conservatives got 86,616 votes - almost six times as many - and none. While I do not like the Conservatives, that is not fair and it is not right.

This is not about the "electorate lifeboat" (which this election benefited the Maori Party and no-one else). It is about the threshold. It is an anti-democratic measure whose sole effect is to limit political competition and silence small parties unless they are lucky enough to win an electorate seat (or, in the case of ACT and United Future, be patronised by a larger one). We've seen that small parties can function effectively in Parliament as a voice for their voters, and we've seen that this doesn't affect the stability of the government one bit (to the contrary - a plurality of options means the government has an easier time passing legislation). And the counterfactual cases show that there is nothing to be afraid of here (though of course people would vote differently in such cases, just as they voted differently when their votes counted under MMP). There is simply no reasonable argument for maintaining such an anti-democratic measure in a democracy. The threshold has to go!