Karl du Fresne’s third MMP rant is in!

Boy.  Karl really, really, really, REALLY, REALLY has a problem with MMP.  He’s off on another rant:

After 21 years and eight general elections, New Zealanders are finally starting to ask some hard questions about MMP.

The current political lacuna demonstrates all that’s worst about the electoral system we adopted in 1993 and put into effect in 1996. The problem is not that everything has come to a standstill while National, Labour and New Zealand First complete the negotiations which will determine who governs us. Other countries routinely experience long periods in political limbo without appearing to suffer great harm.

Neither should we be either surprised or even troubled by the fact that Winston Peters, having declared that everything would be sorted by tomorrow, has now reneged on that assurance. This is par for the course from Peters, who promotes himself as the only honest man in New Zealand politics but has never hesitated to shift his ground or even execute a U-turn when it was expedient to do so.

Peters is, however, central to the reasons why we should be having second thoughts about a political system that enables a man whose party got barely 7 per cent of the votes to determine who the next government will be. Under any circumstances this would be a travesty, but it’s made worse by Peters’ grotesque posturing.

Bizarrely, he behaves as if New Zealanders gave him a mandate on election day. We did no such thing, of course. The power Peters is exercising at this moment (and so obviously relishing) has nothing to do with the popular will. It was placed in his hands through a quirk of a system that makes a mockery of democracy. A more humble party leader might acknowledge this by pulling his head in, but this is Peters we’re talking about.

In any half-rational political system, it would be the parties which between them won more than 81 percent of the vote, not Peters with his measly share, that determined the course of negotiations. A minor player such as New Zealand First, if it had genuine respect for democracy, would accept that its negotiating strength should be proportionate with its level of popular support. But again, this is Peters we’re talking about. And sadly he’s encouraged in his delusions by both the media, which can’t resist stroking his ego (for example, by calling him the kingmaker), and by the major parties, whose attempts to appease Peters come perilously close to grovelling.

Pardon the expression, but this is all arse-about-face. It’s demeaning to democracy. We’ve heard a lot over the years about the tail-wagging-the-dog scenario under MMP. Well, here it is writ large, and unfolding before our very eyes.

It’s a situation rich in irony. We voted for the introduction of MMP primarily to punish our politicians and bring them to heal. We were fed up with their broken promises. We wanted to make them more accountable.

Only now are New Zealanders realising that we achieved the exact reverse. Voters have no control whatsoever over whatever’s going on right now behind closed doors at Parliament. In effect, we have placed still more power in the hands of the political elites. This is the antithesis of what the promoters of MMP promised (and perhaps naively believed themselves).

I do believe Karl is willfully blind.  I’m not defending MMP, but it clearly is working the way it was designed, and anyone who considers the current situation a surprise is a bit of a political thicky.

There is nothing standing in the way of National and Labour creating a grand-coalition.  Except their self-imposed barriers.   Instead of blaming MMP putting “Winston in charge”, it is in fact National and Labour that are putting Winston in charge.

They have the option to come up with a way to have a grand coalition, but they won’t, thereby handing the decision to NZ First.   Neither side will even sit down and have a session at a whiteboard to figure out some broad strokes of how a National/Labour government would work.

That, and only that, is what Winston is taking advantage of.

I do note that no matter what political system countries have, the people there complain that it doesn’t work properly.  In the USA the man who lost the popular vote is now President.

Look at the popular vote that UKIP had across the country in a First Past the Post system and its seat share.   That is why we chose MMP.   Sure, it’s not perfect, but it doesn’t fail at what it was meant to do:  give most loonies a chance to have a career at the government trough.

Alamein Kopu

It doesn’t matter what political system you implement, there will be ways for it to create a situation that appears to be against the principles for which it has been set up.

 

Karl du Fresne

 


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