NZ elections - the case against MMP

The projected mandate given to John Key's National Party could be the death-knell for MMP.

National's commitment to a referendum on the voting system in 2011 is seen as one of the issues behind the party's historic victory.

Labour under Helen Clark mastered MMP better than National but exposed itself to criticism that it was captured by the Green Party, not least over environmental issues and the anti-smacking legislation.

The National win yesterday suggests many voters are fed up with MMP and want to return to some form of majoritarian voting system.

Key says the referendum on MMP will be held in two parts _ a binding plebiscite on election day 2011 on whether MMP should be retained or ditched, and a second binding plebiscite on what might replace it.

This list, he indicated, could include first-past-the-post (the predecessor of MMP), supplementary member and single transferable vote (STV).

Opinion polls have consistently shown that around two electors out or three favour a referendum on the future of MMP, although support for MMP and its predecessor, first-past-the-post, is more or less evenly split.

- Graeme Hunt

The case against MMP

PRO: It was Labour and National's "elected dictatorships" of the past that caused New Zealanders to snarl `a plague on both your houses' and demand proportional representation.

Roger Douglas surprised many with his unrestrained agenda of deregulation and privatisation. Labour's loyal working classes turned their backs on him and voted National _ which only continued the freemarket reforms.

Douglas may have been right, but he should not have roared off in his own direction without the electorate able to apply some brakes.

Under FFP those governments won as few as two in five votes; MMP was introduced to ensure that whoever governed did so with more than 50 per cent. But people have short memories, and yesterday they signalled their discontent with minority governments by voting a landslide to National with a couple of others on the coat-tails _ at heart a return to old-fashioned majoritarian government.

Ironically, one of the hangers-on is Sir Roger.

John Key promises a new referendum to end the experiment with MMP. Well, let's first see whether we like having an unrestrained majority government again.

- Jonathan Milne

- Herald on Sunday

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