Is our electoral system truly undemocratic?
In the last election, there were over 200,000 votes in New Zealand that did not count towards the final result. This has sparked a discussion about the need for changes in the electoral system to ensure that more people have a voice in parliament. The Independent Electoral Review is expected to propose recommendations in November, including lowering the party vote threshold from 5% to 3.5%, allowing more minor parties to enter parliament. The review also suggests abolishing the one-electorate seat threshold and making changes to the allocation of list seats. These reforms aim to increase representation and create a more democratic parliament. Additionally, the review addresses funding issues, such as capping private donations and prohibiting funding from certain entities. Read the full report for more details.
Full Article: Is our electoral system truly undemocratic?
Review Calls for Changes to New Zealand’s Electoral System to Ensure More Representation
A recent independent review is expected to recommend changes to New Zealand’s electoral system in order to give more people a voice in parliament. The review highlights that in the last election, over 200,000 votes did not count towards the final result, leading to unrest and division among the public.
Representation Gap in Parliament
In the 2020 election, out of the 2,886,427 votes cast, 225,190 votes were given to parties that failed to meet the 5% threshold necessary to enter parliament. This means that more than the entire population of Wellington City did not have a party representing them in the Beehive.
Proposed Changes to Expand Representation
The Independent Electoral Review, set to present its recommendations to the Government in November, proposes a series of changes to address the representation gap. One of the key recommendations is to lower the party vote threshold from 5% to 3.5%. The review panel argues that this would allow more minor parties to enter parliament, while still maintaining stable parliaments and effective governments.
However, the review acknowledges that a 3.5% threshold would not have made a significant difference in the last election. Therefore, there is discussion around lowering it further or abolishing it altogether to ensure greater representation for voters.
In addition to lowering the threshold, the review also suggests abolishing the one-electorate seat threshold. Currently, a party that wins an electorate seat is entitled to their share of list seats, even if they do not meet the party vote threshold. The review panel argues that this gives voters in certain electorates more influence over parliamentary representation compared to voters in other electorates.
The review also tackles the issue of overhang seats, which occur when a party wins more electorate seats than their share of the party vote would entitle them to. The proposed solution is to remove the extra seats allocated to other parties and instead allocate fewer list seats. The recommendation is tied to the removal of the one-electorate seat threshold to limit the number of overhang seats.
Furthermore, the review suggests fixing the ratio of electorate and list seats at 60:40, with the provision that the size of parliament should always be uneven to prevent hung parliaments. This would result in a gradual increase in the size of parliament in proportion to changes in the population.
Funding Contributions and Transparency
The review also addresses the issue of funding political parties and candidates. It recommends capping private donations at $30,000 and anonymous donations at $500. Additionally, the review proposes that only individuals on the electoral roll should be able to donate or loan money to parties and candidates. It also suggests prohibiting entities such as trusts, companies, trade unions, iwi, hapū, or unincorporated societies from providing funding.
The independent review’s recommendations aim to ensure a more representative and democratic parliament in New Zealand. By addressing the representation gap, lowering the party vote threshold, abolishing the one-electorate seat threshold, and implementing transparency measures in funding contributions, the review seeks to give more people a voice in shaping the country’s future.
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Summary: Is our electoral system truly undemocratic?
In the last election, over 200,000 votes in New Zealand did not count towards the final result, prompting the need for electoral reform. An independent review is expected to propose changes that will give more people a voice in parliament. One of the recommendations is to lower the party vote threshold from 5% to 3.5%, allowing for greater representation of minor parties. The review also suggests abolishing the one-electorate seat threshold and making adjustments to the ratio of electorate and list seats. Additionally, the review addresses funding issues, proposing caps on private and anonymous donations. Read the full report for more details.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is our electoral system undemocratic?
An analysis of the democratic nature of our electoral system
Why do some people argue that our electoral system is undemocratic?
There are several reasons why individuals may claim that our electoral system is undemocratic. Some argue that the system does not accurately reflect the will of the people due to issues such as gerrymandering, voter suppression, or the influence of money in politics.
What is gerrymandering and how does it affect the democratic process?
Gerrymandering refers to the manipulation of electoral boundaries to favor a particular political party or group. This practice can result in irregularly shaped districts that ensure the electoral victory of a specific party, diminishing the overall fairness and representation of voters.
What is voter suppression and how can it impact the electoral system?
Voter suppression involves various tactics or laws that discourage or hinder certain groups of people from exercising their right to vote. This could include burdensome registration procedures, strict voter ID requirements, limited polling locations, or purging voter rolls. Ultimately, these efforts can lead to the exclusion of certain demographics, impacting the fairness of the electoral process.
How does the influence of money in politics undermine the democratic principles in our electoral system?
The influx of money into political campaigns enables wealthy individuals, corporations, or interest groups to exert undue influence on elections. This disproportionately affects those candidates or parties without access to such financial resources, potentially resulting in an unbalanced representation of interests and compromising the democratic nature of the system.
What are some potential solutions to address the perceived democratic issues in our electoral system?
There are ongoing discussions and proposed solutions to enhance the democratic nature of our electoral system. This includes advocating for redistricting reforms to reduce gerrymandering, implementing voter protection laws to prevent suppression tactics, and campaign finance reforms to reduce the influence of money in politics.