May 30, 2006

Policy wonking

There are another 30 months to go before the next election in New Zealand (barring coalition collapses) so poll data may not be all that relevant in people's minds - one tends to concentrate on matters political when an election approaches: see the fevered frenzy in the NZ blogosphere before last September and the boring backbiting doldrums afterwards.
There is a bill before parliament to reduce the number of MPs to 100, from the current 120, but preserving the Maori seats and the number of electorate seats. The cut would come in the list seats. This is, of course, a salami tactic to get rid of the proportionality as much as possible - the Bill is from a conservative member who longs back to the days that rural New Zealand held sway in elections and could bugger any minority it didn't like.
I have long been a proponent of moving completely the other way and getting rid of both the Maori seats and the general electorate seats, and creating a 120 list MP parliament (with a 1/120 vote threshold) where you vote for a party based on its policies rather than personalities who happen to reside in your electorate.
So how would a NZ parliament look like based on the current poll numbers?

National 47% - 56 seats
Labour 38% - 46 seats
Green 5% - 6 seats
NZ First 4% - 5 seats
Maori 3% - 4 seats
United Future 1.4% - 2 seats
Act 1.1% - 1 seat

A National/Maori/ACT coalition would be a possible Government, or even National/NZF. But the main difference with the current system would be:
- more Maori MPs in parliament because it will make other parties worth their while to target all groups in society because of their equal weight in the total electoral scheme, i.e. National may find it worthwhile fielding Maori candidates on its list in electable positions and get rid of the current dead wood in the Deep North, where Tory MPs have been holding sway for generations since their main opposition is siphoning off to the Maori roll and the opposition vote split between Maori and general electorates.
- an emphasis on party policy proposals rather than (party leader) personality politics: Act and UF should stand or fall on their national appeal rather than the whims of a local electorate that see their member as bringing home the pork and distorting the proportionality of parliament (and have undue influence on Government formation)

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