MMP: Maori voters get two votes - the rest of us get one

I’m not against the presence of the Maori seats and the point of this post is not to canvass their abolition - however it is to draw attention to an MMP anomaly that is perhaps peculiar to New Zealand.

It’s looking like a number of Maori Party candidates will win electorate seats. Perhaps even all seven seats will go to the Maori Party.

The Maori Party will require more than 7% of the party vote to get more seats than the seven electorate seats - so a Maori Party voter in a Maori electorate has already exerted plenty of influence on the make-up of the House and they still have a second tick to go to up whatever party vote they prefer as well. As Matt McCarten has pointed out it would effectively be a wasted vote for them to vote Maori Party for their party vote. They get two useful votes when most of us only get one. MMP fair? I think not. (It’s not just the Maori electorates where the voters will get two useful votes but any where the electorate vote will secure a seat for a party that won’t reach the 5% threshold.)

There is also the (slight) possibility that National could get more than 50% of the party votes and yet still not be able to muster a majority of seats in the House with the seven seat overhang.

Presumably when the Royal Commission on the Electoral System considered and then recommended MMP they did not fully consider the ramifications of the Maori electorates as being different to the rest and presumably did not foresee the possibility of a Maori Party and how that might skew things. It gets better - if the Maori Party chose to be a little creative they could get a couple more seats - but that’s for the next post.

Incidentally, the election calculator on the Elections website is a great tool for trying out hypothetical results. Also, the pundit election quiz is an interesting tool to use to check that you’re voting for the party whose policies match your views on a range of issues.

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