Drop threshold from 5% to 4% - MMP review
Updated at 1:44 pm on 14 August 2012
The Electoral Commission has recommended lowering from 5% to 4% the threshold over which parties must get to win seats in Parliament under the MMP system.
At the same time, it has recommended abolishing the rule whereby if a party wins a single electorate seat, it is then entitled to more seats according to its percentage of the overall vote - even if that vote is less than 5%.
The commission has been reviewing the system under which MPs are elected, and on Monday morning it released its list of proposals.
Chief among them is the lowering of the threshold, which in 2008 denied New Zealand First any seats in Parliament, even though it got 4.1% of the party vote.
The ACT party got less than that - 3.6% - but was entitled to four more list MPs because it won a single electorate seat. Under the commission's proposals, if it received that percentage of the vote again, it would get only one MP in Parliament, not five.
Chief electoral officer Robert Peden says the one-seat threshold has led to some unfair results.
"The weight of submissions suggests to us," he says, "that the effect of the one-seat threshold is the biggest single factor in public dissatisfaction with MMP at present."
Parties 'should retain control' of own lists
Other recommendations include keeping the status quo so that candidates can still contest electorate seats while remaining on their party's list and list MPs are able to contest by-elections.
The commission says political parties should continue to have responsibility for the composition and ranking of candidates on their lists.
A total of 4698 submissions was made to the review, which was triggered by the referendum held at last year's general election.
The public will have until 7 September to make submissions, with the final report going to the Justice Minister at the end of October.
ACT and New Zealand First oppose changes
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the party vote threshold for parties to enter Parliament under MMP should stay at 5%, even though when New Zealand First won 4.1% of the party vote in 2008 it was not entitled to any seats.
Mr Peters says the public backed the 5% threshold in the 1993 referendum on MMP.
ACT leader John Banks says his party will oppose any attempts to change the thresholds for parties to enter Parliament.
In 2008, ACT party won an electorate seat, and was also allocated four list MPs based on its share of the party vote.
Mr Banks says the current system is working, and scrapping the threshold of one electorate seat would be unfair.
Greens back a 'fairer' system
The Green Party says the abolition of the one-seat threshold would make the voting system much fairer.
It says voters in electorates such as Epsom have a greater influence on the proportionality of Parliament and the make-up of the government than voters in other areas.
The Labour Party says reducing the party vote threshold to 4% will make the electoral system fairer.
Electoral reform spokesperson Lianne Dalziel says the proposals are sensible and well-considered.
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