Review of the MMP voting system
What is the review about?
The purpose of the review is to recommend changes to the way MMP works, and will give everybody the chance to have their say on improvements that might be made to the MMP voting system.
The review was triggered as a result of the 26 November 2011 referendum on the voting system, held in conjunction with the General Election.
What was the result of the referendum?
There were two questions asked in the referendum. The first question asked voters if they wanted to keep MMP as the voting system we use or change to a different system. The second question asked voters to choose between four alternative voting systems if there was a change.
Because 57.77 % of voters opted to keep MMP, an independent review must now be set up to ask people about possible changes to MMP.
How did it come about?
The review forms part of a package of electoral reforms initiated in 2010 which included new electoral finance laws and a review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. More information about these initiatives is available at the Ministry of Justice website.
In December 2010 the Electoral Referendum Act 2010 was passed which set out the details of the referendum on the voting system. The referendum was held at the same time as the 2011 General Election.
Why was the referendum held at the same time as the 2011 General Election?
The referendum was an opportunity for New Zealanders to have their say on the voting system we use to elect our Parliaments in the future. Because it is an important constitutional issue, it was vital that as many voters as possible had their say. Holding the referendum at the same time as the General Election made it easy for voters to take part.
Who is doing the review of MMP?
The Electoral Commission (the Commission) is undertaking the review. It is an independent body.
What is being reviewed?
The Electoral Referendum Act 2010 sets out the issues the Commission must consider. These are—
- What thresholds parties should have to cross to qualify for an allocation of list seats in Parliament,
- Whether list MPs should be able to stand as candidates in a by-election,
- Whether a person should be able to stand as a candidate both for an electorate seat and on a party list,
- Whether voters or political parties should decide the order of candidates on a party list,
- What should happen when a party wins more electorate seats than it would be entitled to under its share of the party vote,
- The effects of population growth on the ratio of electorate seats to list seats, and
Parliament has excluded Māori representation and the number of Members of Parliament from the review.
The Minister of Justice or Parliament can direct the Commission to review other matters and the Commission itself has the power to include other aspects of the MMP voting system, including matters raised with it by the public.
What is not included in the review?
The Electoral Referendum Act 2010 does not allow the Commission to review the number of MPs we have, or Māori representation.
These issues are included in the review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. Information about this review is available at the Ministry of Justice website.
Who decided what to review?
All the details about the review can be found in the Electoral Referendum Act 2010
Section 75 of the Electoral Referendum Act 2010—
(1) The Electoral Commission must commence a review of the mixed member proportional representation voting system for the House of Representatives as soon as practicable after the result of the referendum is declared under section 20.
(2) The purpose of the review is to—
(a) determine through a public consultative process whether changes to MMP are necessary or desirable; and
(b) make any recommendations for changes to the system to the Minister of Justice.
What is the timeline for the review?
The Commission must present a report to the Minister of Justice by 31 October 2012 with recommendations on whether any changes to MMP are necessary or desirable. As soon as practicable after receiving the report, the Minister must present a copy of it to Parliament.
What is the process for the review?
The public submission process begins on 13 February, with the launch of the dedicated website and consultation paper. Public submissions are open until the end of May, and can be made online, by email, by post and in person at public hearings.
Once all submissions are received, the Commission will develop a set of proposals, based on the information and views presented in submissions and from the public hearings. These will be released as a Proposal Paper in August, and the public will again be invited to comment.
A final recommendation paper will be presented to the Minister of Justice by 31 October.
How can the public get involved?
Any member of the public, either individually or representing a group or organisation, is invited to make a submission to the Commission. There are several ways to do this. Submissions can be made online, emailed, or on paper and can then be presented in person at public hearings. The public will also be invited to comment on the Proposal paper released in August.
What happens after the Commission’s report is presented?
It will be for Parliament to decide what to do with the Commission’s recommendations.