Reforming our electoral system
Philip Temple makes a lot of sense in the Herald this morning.
National, odds on to lead the next government, has promised a referendum on MMP by 2011 on the following terms: "The referendum will give people a choice between retaining MMP without any further consideration or having a further vote on MMP alongside another electoral system or systems".
Without any further consideration means that we will be given no chance to discuss the kind of Mixed Member Proportional representation we now have, or could have in the future.
No chance to debate whether we should change or improve our New Zealand version. Because, unlike the antique First Past the Post (FPP) system, MMP can be modified to suit the needs of the electors. And it is those needs that are paramount.
You don't like the fact you can't change the party lists? You think the threshold is too high or too low at 5 per cent of the vote? These and other matters can be debated and fixed. The electoral system belongs to us, not the politicians, and we should be properly consulted on what we want before any kind of referendum is held. The National Party's "without any further consideration" suggests they have no intention of doing that.
What we need is not an ill-defined, ad hoc referendum but a new Royal Commission on the Electoral System, a generation after the last, to enable a considered examination of all aspects of the voting system - including the electoral cycle, electoral financing and the Maori seats - so that all sectors of the community can have input and influence in bringing about much-needed reform.