Labour vows to can 'coat-tailing'

David Cunliffe
David Cunliffe
Labour leader David Cunliffe now says his party would make it a priority to get rid of ''coat-tailing" under MMP if it leads the Government after the September election.

He says that within its first 100 days, Labour would remove the coat-tailing provision and lower the MMP threshold required for a party to get MPs without an electorate seats from 5 per cent to 4 per cent.

That was Labour's position to the Electoral Commission which reviewed MMP earlier this term but Mr Cunliffe has moved to harden the position in the wake of the Internet Mana alliance announced last week.

The two parties will stand separately in electorates but have a joint list, meaning that if Mana leader Hone Harawira wins his Te Tai Tokerau seat, and no others, and Internet Mana got about 3 per cent party vote, the alliance could get four MPs.

Mr Harawira's Labour opponent is Labour list MP Kelvin Davis.

National support party Act has used coat-tailing to get MPs into Parliament by winning Epsom but getting under 5 per cents.

New Zealand First also used "coat-tailing" in 1999 when Winston Peters kept his Tauranga seat but the party polled under 5 per cent.

Even Labour and the Greens sought to used coat-tailing in 1999 when then Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons stood in Coromandel and Labour voters were given the clear message it was okay to vote for her as an electorate candidate, in case the Greens did not make the 5 per cent threshold. In the event, the Greens did make the threshold.

- By Audrey Young of the New Zealand Herald

A healthy change

Skinhat: it would be more unfair if 49% of the population controlled a government when the representatives of 51% of us had representatives who were prepared to govern (be it a 51% on the right or on the left).

Even more unfair would be to go back to the FPP days when a party getting 20% of the votes would get no seats (Social Credit) and the party that got enough seats to form a government actually got fewer votes than the one that ended up in opposition Labour a couple of times, Bush vs. Gore as another example).

Really though thinking about single parties is old world thinking, from a generation ago, before MMP, our governments are now elected as coalitions - they represent more people than just one party, representing more people is a good thing.

To form governments parties have to compromise with each other, they compromise so that government represents more citizens - if National, or any party, gets 49% and can't compromise enough that another party will get on board with them then they don't know how to play the game and are stuck in the past.

I think this is a healthy change that rather than doing these things in smoke filled rooms we have public compromises that are transparent and understood by all.

Proportional system unfair

If Labour wants to talk about electoral fairness it should consider the fact that Labour could win less than 30% of seats while National could get 49% of seats but still lose the election. The proportional system can make unpopular parties still win the election depending on how much they are prepared compromise to smaller, less moderate parties.

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