Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Election - keep MMP!

Some news for all you who have followed the fortunes of Fixed and Floating since 2009: Andy got married last Saturday. It's all happened fairly quickly but good for him I say.

Last night I spoke to Julie, who also figured fairly prominently in the early stages of this blog. She has had what you might call an annus horribilis, but the good news (for both of us I think) is that she'll be moving to Wellington before long.

I also went swimming last night; it was even busier than usual. If you weren't careful you could have lost an eye.

On Monday I woke up to a force nine gale and the weather hasn't got a lot better since.

It seems National, or should I say John Key, is nailed on to win this election. I struggle to see why he's quite as popular as he is. Politics goes in cycles I suppose - the timing is right for him - but more than anything he's cultivated a brand, and in 2011 brands are, well, Key.

I've been thinking a little more about MMP and electoral systems. MMP isn't perfect but in my opinion it's clearly the best of the five options on the table (the second-best being STV). The biggest flaw with MMP (but please, still vote for it!) seems to be voters' lack of say in which representatives from a particular party make it into parliament. It's all down to the party list; us voters have no input into its make-up. But how about this? Instead of getting two votes at the election, you get just one, which goes towards choosing your electorate MP and the number of MPs each party gets. There are still top-up seats (like the current list seats) but these go to the best runners-up. Say for example National get half the votes throughout the country, that will entitle them to 60 of the 120 seats just like it does now. Say National also win 45 of the 70 electorates, then the 15 best runners-up from National also make it into parliament, although unlike the winners, these MPs don't represent their electorates - they'd be called "additional" MPs or something like that. How you determine "best" would be up for debate, and the current 70-50 split might need looking at, but it's fairly easy to understand and (I hope) better that we currently have. The BRU method - it has a certain ring to it; Kiwis tend to like a good BRU.

I've also been thinking about the whole concept of electorates. The world is smaller, so where we live is less important now than it used to be (which means first-past-the-post, which is totally geographically based, gets gradually worse over time). Why not carve people up using some other variable such as age or occupation? Where we live is often down to chance, and there can be huge differences even within electorates (especially in big cities - I always find the results by polling place the most interesting of all, and it wouldn't be stupid to use to those figures to help decide which suburb or street to live in).

Finally on the subject of the election, whether the winning party is blue or red or green or pink or yellow, or some combination, for most of us it won't make a lot of difference.

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