Cometh the tail given an impression of wagging the dog, cometh the people moaning about MMP.

Between them, National and Labour have 81.3 per cent of the vote - the highest share since MMP began. The closest to that was 80.2 per cent in 2005 - when National and Labour were just two points apart. The lowest was 62 per cent in 2002 when National plummeted.

Given that, there has already been a predictable outcry about the perils of the MMP system because NZ First with nine MPs and 7 per cent of the vote got the job of choosing who the Government will be.

In 2012 the Electoral Commission did its review of the MMP system and recommended the threshold to enter Parliament be lowered to four per cent - and abolishing the 'coat-tailing' rule that allowed a party whose candidate won an electorate to bring in extra MPs even if it fell short of the party vote threshold.

The National Government rejected those reforms.


Let us not suggest self-interest was at play, but at the time National was reliant on Act, United Future and the Maori Party.

All three were well short of the five per cent threshold but had electorate seats which sometimes delivered bonus MPs to bolster National's majority.

Five years on there are calls for the rules of MMP to be looked at again and the advocates of reform might want to dust off their submissions.

Let us again not suggest self-interest will be at play, but whichever party is in government will be reliant on a party or parties that do not have any electorate seats but need to get over the five per cent threshold to get back into Parliament.

It is a foul thing for an electoral system to be altered to suit the power structure of the governing party of the day - and there is no doubt that is how it would be portrayed.

But nor is it a good thing to refuse to change the system just to avoid accusations of self-interest.

Then again, it may not be necessary. Since National refused to get rid of the coat-tailing rule in 2012, the voters have taken it upon themselves by weeding out the parties which relied on it.

The Maori Party and United Future are both gone (and United Future had not qualified for any extra MPs since 2005 anyway).


There is only one such party still standing - Act leader David Seymour in Epsom. Act has not managed to muster a high enough party vote for a second MP since 2008 - and it got its lowest vote ever (0.5 per cent) this election.

During the campaign National leader Bill English developed a severe case of Middle Man Paranoia. He called on voters to 'cut out the middle man' by not bestowing the power of decision making upon NZ First leader Winston Peters.

That was criticised as First Past the Post sentiment.

That is not quite true - even in a Parliament in which Labour and National are so dominant their representation is proportionate to their votes.

The main concern with FPP was not the number of parties but that they did not get seats proportionate to their vote. One party could get more votes but fewer seats.

The minor parties have done a convincing sales job of persuading voters they are an essential part of MMP, but in theory it is perfectly possible to have a two or three party Parliament under MMP.

What the last election showed was that neither the large nor small parties are in charge of what MMP delivers - the voters are.

The Greens and Maori Party found that when the voters like the larger parties they are happy to decamp from the pup tents and get back in the Big Top.

That means the next Parliament will have just five parties in it - the smallest number since MMP began.

Since 1999 there have been seven parties, peaking at eight in 2005 when the Maori Party came in and just before the Progressives went out.

The voters have now cut out quite different middle men from the one English intended.

Unless one of National's erstwhile partners can stage a recovery, a new party is born or the rules change to get small parties in at a lower threshold, National is condemned to a future of being dependent on NZ First to get into government well beyond this election.

In 2008, John Key had the luxury of being able to rule NZ First out in advance. As National's other support partners got weaker, so did National's stance on NZ First.

Now it has gone from not being on the cab rank at all to now being the only cab in National's rank - albeit it a shared rank with Labour.