i attended a meeting in hamilton this evening, which was to start some movement on the campaign to keep MMP. it's a crucial issue in terms of keeping the type of diverse representation we currently have in parliament. all the alternatives to MMP that will be included in the vote at the next election are less proportional than MMP.
some key points bought up at the meeting:
- while there are issues with MMP, it's possible (in fact desirable) for us to tweak the MMP system in order to sort those out. some examples are fixing the anomaly that saw rodney hide bring in 4 other MPs when his party had a lower level of the vote than NZ first; or creating more transparency around the list selection process for all parties.
- more education is required about the role of list MPs, who are working for constituents & are democratically elected. jeannette fitzsimmons gave a good response to this issue. she said when people questioned whether or not she had been properly elected, she said that as an MP for the coromandel electorate she had received 13,000 votes. but as a list candidate, she had received around 150,000 votes for a list with her name at the top. the latter was just as legitimate as the former, possibly more so. also, list MPs are valuable for those constituents who believe that their local MP is not adequately representing their views (eg not pushing for increased access to early childhood education). list MPs provide alternative representation for these people. because of this, they also ensure that electorate MPs provide a better service.
- women's representation in parliament went up markedly as a result of MMP (from 21% to 33%) as did representation for ethnic minorities. diversity in representation actually leads to better decision-making, because it ensures different types of issues are put on the agenda & different perspectives are brought to the table. also, having minority parties in parliament ensures that debates aren't just "for or against", but have a greater depth and breadth of coverage.
- a proper proportional system will mean that every vote counts. unlike FPP, where votes in safe seats don't count for much. any attempt to reduce proportionality will reduce the value of some people's votes.
it was a good meeting with a lot of positive interest. the campaign for MMP has a website with suggestions for positive action. they could definitely use donations, as those opposed to MMP will have some very big funders. if you have the time & energy, i hope you'll be able to contribute to the campaign.