Thursday, August 29, 2019

Local elections need STV

Local body elections are underway, which is causing people to look at local government for once. And many of us don't like what we see. Our local government is basicly a gerontocracy, stuffed with dead white males. There are more councillors named "John" than there are councillors born after 1980. This is not representative, it looks nothing like New Zealand, and it discourages anyone under 60 from voting.

What is the cause of this problem? Writing in The Spinoff, Hayden Donnell has a simple answer: its the voting system, stupid. FPP and the block vote allow a narrow demographic - old people - to utterly dominate local government, converting their plurality into absolute dominance. But there's an alternative, STV, which is used in a few areas. And the evidence shows that local authorities which use STV have more representative councils, which look more like their voters.

Currently only 11 councils use STV (I am lucky enough to live in one, and my council looks a hell of a lot better than the West Coast's). This needs to change. STV is more democratic. It produces more representative outcomes. It is likely to boost long-run turnout, as younger voters see councillors who actually look like them. It should be adopted nationwide.