The authors of the MMP review paper released this week deserve congratulations. They addressed the three main concerns of MMP.
They recommended lowering the 5 per cent threshold to 4 per cent; removing the rort that a party winning a single electorate seat gets to bring in a number of list MPs (even if their party is under the 5 per cent threshold); and limiting the number of parliamentary seats to 120. Sensible New Zealanders will support the findings.
I can't see why there needs to be any threshold at all. Why shouldn't 1 per cent of the population have their representative in parliament? I know I'm in a small camp on that issue so I'll let it go.
First the good news. Act is finished. There is a place in our body politic for a party that believes in the neo-liberal ideas that Act was founded on. But this week's recommendations deliver the euthanasia this embarrassment of an organisation deserves.
No one believes that Act can get over the new 4 per cent threshold. So National doesn't need to humiliate itself and ask their supporters in Epsom to hold their nose and vote for John Banks any more.
Peter Dunne is gone too. The Tories in Ohariu must be so sick of having to put up with a pretentious leader of a pretend party. With the proposed MMP changes there simply is no advantage in having Dunne taking up a space that belongs to National.
Katrina Shanks, National's Ohariu candidate last election, is a list MP now and spends all her spare time these days in the electorate dreaming of the next election when she will be allowed to run a real campaign and take the seat that's rightfully hers.
Matthew Hooton, in his NBR column, claims though that the review recommendations are good for National. He argues that Winston Peters will easily be able to capture 4 per cent of the vote and will sell his support to National for a knighthood and the Foreign Affairs minister's job.
Presumably Peters will be happy swanning around the international cocktail circuit charming inebriated matrons.
On one level Hooton is correct; Peters won't want to be the smallest partner in a Labour/Green /NZ First alliance. And NZ First policy is to allow the party with the biggest majority to attempt to form a government first. Clearly that will be National.
But if National's strategy is to rely on Peters to let them back into their comfy ministerial offices after all the abuse and contempt they've poured on him, then they know nothing about Peters' self-respect.
Peters will get a blank cheque from both National and Labour, and he will want a real chance for redemption and a chance to create a legacy.
Given National's previous treachery when he went into coalition with them, Peters won't trust them again.
Hooton's on safer ground when he talks up the Conservative Party. But that party is still an unknown. Colin Craig is surrounded by fruitcakes and opportunists. New Zealanders thankfully avoid fundamentalist parties, although if the right-wing elites infiltrated some professionals and talent into the Conservatives' organisation it might pay off.
However, it doesn't affect the maths, as any rise to the Conservatives comes from National voters.
With the review bringing the Banks and Dunne gravy trip to an end, I'll tell you where the next election will be won. In the Maori seats. This will happen even on current polling numbers.
If the Maori Party wins three or more seats, National governs without needing NZ First or the Conservatives. But if Labour and Mana take out all but two of the Maori Party MPs, then Labour will be able to cobble a coalition.
What this review does is finally bring to an end the sordid deals between National and its manufactured one-MP parties.
It's impossible for the prime minister now not to back the review's recommendations.
Banks' huffing that Act won't support the recommendations only reminds us why we should.
John Key set up this whole process because he thought we would turn against MMP.
It's backfired on him and may well cost him the next election.
Poetic justice indeed.By Matt McCarten Email Matt