District: Elect me or else

The strategies of candidates and parties in mixed-member systems can be fascinating. Here is one current example from New Zealand, where voters will go to the polls in late November (at the same time as they vote in the first stage of a process to review or possibly replace MMP).

Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel will not stand on her party’s list this election, saying if the people from Christchurch do not want her to return as their electorate MP she would prefer to leave Parliament altogether.

Ms Dalziel is one of only two MPs who have spurned the safety of the party’s list for the election this November.

Her career is an interesting one, as in 1996 she was elected a list-only candidate. She says she did “not enjoy” being a list-only MP because it meant a less close connection with constituents. (NZ Herald, 8 April.)

She is an MP for Labour, and won her district (electorate) easily in 2008, with 52.9% of the vote; the closest challenger was the National Party candidate, with 35.9%. So unless there is a huge swing (unlikely, given that 2008 already saw a large swing towards National), she is not exactly putting her career on the line by giving up a list slot.

The Labour Party has now released its party list for the upcoming election.

The former President and now Labour’s candidate for New Plymouth, Andrew Little, is the highest placed non-MP, at number 15.
The other non-MP with a winnable spot at number 26 is Deborah Mahuta-Coyle, a member of party leader Phil Goff’s media team.
The top 14 list places are held by senior, sitting MPs, headed by Mr Goff and his deputy, Annette King. (Radio NZ, 10 April; see the link for the full list.)

Meanwhile, Richard Long in the Dominion Post, decries the party’s list nominations as “gazumping the electoral process” and “little short of gerrymandering.”

Long wants MMM instead–which is the option on the referendum ballot referred to as “Supplementary Member.” It seems to me that if you don’t like gazumping and gerrymandering, you should like MMM a good deal less than MMP.

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More on the Labour list and its “new blood,” including candidates with union backgrounds, and on repeat candidates with changed list positions at the NZ Herald, 10 April.

2 thoughts on “District: Elect me or else

  1. What is the opinions polls on this referendum? Will NZ keep MMP? MMP is working well, I think NZ should keep it, but make a few changes to it.

    NZ was a FPTP country moving toward MMP system. It is also an English speaking which means it is an extremely individualist country. Having half of the legislature being elected with close party list seats is anathema to any English speaking countries political culture.

    The problem with MMP is that it creates two classes with MPs. Prohibiting district MPs from being on a List or vice versa would only make that distinction even worse.

    At least there is a connection by allowing candidates to run for districts and list seats as well.

    Most voters are upset that a candidate loses in a district and wins a seat through the list, so the list is a safety seat. Don’t they call this paradox the zombie syndrome in Japan which uses parallel system? Also candidates don’t have to run in a district alone, they can just run only for the party list.

    Is it possible that NZ would change it’s close party list system to a best loser system as in Germany’s Baden Wurtemberg state? Then all candidates have to run in single member districts.

    This below is somewhat Off Topic:

    Another question about MMP, although NZ and Germany have never have any problems with it. What to do about decoy lists? parties splitting into two to game the system to get more seats. Didn’t this happen in Lesotho? Would having a one vote MMP system prevent this?

    • There has not been a lot of polling, but it has tended to put MMP ahead. I imagine we’ll see more polls in the coming months.

      Open lists are definitely on the agenda if there is a vote to keep MMP, because the referendum law requires a review if the current system is not replaced, and explicitly mentions the list type. I am not sure if a “best loser” provision might be on the agenda in such a case or not. (Check some of the earlier New Zealand plantings here at F&V for discussions of at least one poll and the terms of the review.)

      On the Lesotho “dummy” lists, there was an extensive discussion here at the time.

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