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Submitted on 20/02/2012 - 7:39pm relating to the issues Basis for eligibility for list seats (thresholds), By-election candidates, Dual Candidacy, Order of candidates on the list, Overhang, Proportion of electorate seats to list seats
Should the 5% threshold be kept or changed? Why? If you recommend change, what should it be and why?:
The threshold for entry into Parliament should be set in a way that does not unfairly exclude parties on an arbitrary basis, but also does not grant representation which was not earnt. Therefore, the threshold for a party to gain list seats should approximately 1% of the vote. This number is just slightly over one seat's worth of votes, and thus requires more than one electorate to vote for the candidate, showing that the party is truly representing a wider range of people than just a particular area.
Should the one electorate seat threshold be kept or changed? Why? If you recommend change, what should it be and why?:
There should NOT be a requirement to hold any electorate seats, before a party enters Parliament. A party that earns a seat from its proportion of the party vote should be awarded that seat; otherwise what is the point in voting for a smaller party if their support is not concentrated in one region? This encourages more independent candidates and new minor parties to become involved in Parliament, thus providing voters with more options. By contrast, having a "lifeboat" requires that some small parties rely on flagship candidates, whose success or failure determines the outcome for a much wider bloc of voters. This effectively gives some electorates the unjust power to deny other voters from having a party representative in Parliament.
Should list MPs continue to be able to stand as candidates in by-elections? If so, why?:
Yes. All people with the right to stand for Parliament should be permitted to stand for by-elections. Any rule that disallows list MPs from standing in by-elections is only a formality. If we said that no standing MP may stand for an electorate by-election, then a party needs only substitute their current list MP for another. Then if they win the by-election the first MP remains in Parliament, but is now an electorate MP and the list seat is turned over to another party (to maintain the apportionment by party vote). If they lose, then they simply retake their seat through the party list anyway. This effectively forces parties to take the longer route, with the same result: list MPs will stand in by-elections without losing their seats. Then there is also the fact many list MPs did originally run for electorate seats, and many would prefer to be their region's representative. Why then should they be disallowed from standing in a by-election, simply because they didn't win last time? Such a rule would make it impossible for many candidates to stand at all. Thus, it is absurd to bar list MPs from standing for by-election.
Should dual candidacy be kept? If so, why?:
YES. It is impossible for every good MP to be voted in without making many move to different areas. The party list allows members to remain in Parliament, where they can continue to represent their region and their party. While they were not the favoured representative in one region, those living in other areas might still want their representation. It also provides protection to smaller parties, who can begin to contest for electorate support over several election cycles, without risking the loss of ground from having their better candidates denied a seat through a denial of dual candidacy. People who are able to provide better input to Parliament should not be discouraged simply because they weren't in the most popular of parties or because they wanted to expand their support; proportional representation is not a winner-take-all double-or-nothing game, but requires that EVERY person be considered for EVERY potential position they could fill.
In an election, should voters be able to alter the order of candidates from the list order decided by political parties?:
Yes. Voters need some input into who will represent their party of choice, just as they must have input into who will represent their region of choice through electorate seats.
If you recommend change, how should this be done?:
Each party produces a list of its party candidates to the public at some time ## weeks (say three months) before the election. This list is decided by the party members or representatives according to current method. This list becomes the Candidate Pool. Voters may then sign up to AT MOST ONE (1) party's list voting group -- assumably the party they will be voting for in the actual election -- and rank each candidate in the Pool according to whichever multiple-winner system is most appropriate (as determined by the Electoral Commission review). Thus, each party's membership can decide who will possibly represent them, and each voter has input as to which candidates are most likely to represent their party of choice. Those voters who are not concerned with which particular person is selected by their party need do nothing more than in previous elections, while those who want some voice in choosing party lists without having to join the actual party, can do so.
What should happen when a party wins more electorate seats than it would be entitled to under its share of the party vote?:
It must keep them: those electorate MPs were chosen to be their regional representatives in Parliament, and to deny any of them their seat means that someone will be forced to have representation from a party they don't want. It would also cause problems as to who should replace them: if 3 different electorates had 3 different parties' candidate come second, then which of those electorates must change, and which party gets the extra seat? Quite simply, there is nothing that can be done about it.
Is this a problem, and what should be done to fix it?:
The proportion should be as close as possible to 1:1 or equally divided. To have it weighted in favour of parties provides more influence to them than the people, as the majority of seated MPs would be decided within parties and not via a direct democratic procedure. Then a majority of voters would have to be party-aligned or members to have any real impact on their representatives, which leads to people associating more strongly with an in-group and becoming devoted to a single party, instead of being just a broad particular political leaning, which allows them to cross party boundaries in order to find their best representation. To have it weighted in favour of electorates though, presents the opposite problem: FPP inherently leads to larger parties winning more seats, and anything closer to FPP than necessary -- since FPP is a special case of MMP with zero list seats to be apportioned -- is to shift the balance of power towards absolutism and larger parties gaining more than their fair value, at the expense of proportionate representation and smaller parties losing their fair value. The only way to avoid lending particular parties any advantage or unfair strength then, is to make the number of electorate and list seats available exactly equal (within tolerance of overhangs or underhangs)..