Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Why the left likes MMP

If you want to know the reason the left are solidly in support of MMP, then listen to Laila Harre on Kathryn Ryan's show this morning [audio here]. 

The ostensible reason the left supports MMP is because First Past the Post is "undemocratic," delivering government too often to parties that didn't receive the majority of votes cast.  "Under FPP, plurality and majority were synonymous ... thanks to the distortions of the undemocratic election system," says No Right Turn, "we live in a proper democracy now, under MMP."  "Pro-FPP respondents" are "less inclined to show any sympathy for the principles of broad-based majority government than [are] supporters of MMP," says political 'scientist' Jack Vowles.  "What is the problem with MMP?" asks the Green Party. "Could it be the way MMP means everyone’s votes count rather than just those in swing seats?" 

The clinching argument for many people supporting MMP was this idea that FPP was essentially undemocratic, that, for example, in 1978 and 1981 "Muldoon retained power ... despite National receiving fewer votes than Labour in both elections."  A commenter at the Double Standard sums up the unspoken feeling, that "in the last 36 years, the only occasions National has really beaten Labour are 1975 and 1990. National’s other wins have either been with fewer votes than Labour (1978 and 1981), the result of extreme vote-splitting (1993), or betrayal (1996). And even in 1990, an MMP election would have resulted in a hung parliament..."

And there you have the real reason the left supports MMP, and why the red blogosphere reacted en bloc when John Boy raised the trial balloon of a referendum on MMP -- a referendum that voters had voted for back in 1993! It's nothing to do with democracy at all, it's because MMP is more likely to keep the Tories feet from under the Treasury Benches. (And remember, any corruption is justified in doing that job!  After all, to a certain type of mind, ""Freedom of speech and political association and action is subordinate to the class war.")

Hence Harre on Nine to Noon this morning, eagerly doing her sums this morning to show everyone scared of Tory Government that if Labour can pull down 35% of the vote in November and if National gets less than 50% then with a little bit of overhang courtesy of the Maori Party and Anderton's Progressives the Red Team could still form a government.

Based on previous criticisms by the left of how FPP helps parties retain power despite them receiving fewer votes, one would think that such a situation would outrage them.  One might think that, except that it is transparently clear that the reason for MMP (and the Electoral Finance Act)has nothing to do with delivering "democratic government," and everything to do with keeping the Tories from the Treasury benches.

UPDATE: I should point out two things here that I"d have thought were obvious, but a couple of emails have suggested otherwise:

  1. The fact that the left are terrified of the Tories getting the Treasury benches doesn't mean there's anything for them to to be terrified about.  The fact is that the difference between a government led by Labour and one led by Labour-Lite is like the choice between Fosters and XXXX.  However you slice it, it's both unpalatable and indistinguishable.
  2. That the Greens co-leader person says comparing National and Labour is like comparing Coke to Pepsi, and that the Greens can "work with either," doesn't alter the truth that it's the Tories they see as the Great Satan. As Vernon Small said yesterday in The Dom's headline, "Greens' fears of old enemy colour views."  Says Small  “However they slice it and dice it, there is no real chance of the Greens ever preferring National over Labour. Pretending otherwise defies the policy reality," and every Green supporter knows that. Green posturing now is more about creating pre-election illusions of "independence," and a pre-negotiation position of being nobodies lapdog -- but everyone knows in which lap they'll be basking once the blocs start forming.


  1. I was saying this in the early 90s at university, that it was obvious the left were pushing for MMP because then the Alliance was peddling "everything for free just have the rich pay more tax" snakeoil.

  2. An election is merely an advance auction of stolen property. Of course the leftie vermin will say or do anything to win it! It's not about morality or principle, for them it's about the survival of their ability to steal.


  3. The answer to their concern is obvious.

    Get rid of all the electorates and run a single party vote.

    With the ease of communication today there is no need to pander to regional whims by pretending the needs of Rangiora are any different from Otahuhu.
    The role of government is the same for each!
    The absence of electorate boundries does not stop "partys" from "servicing" the regions.


  4. So why does the right dislike MMP? Throughout the Brash campaign I was one of the few on the centre-right who supported it.

    The philosophy behind MMP is fine.

    The voting public now has a more sophisticated view of what MMP actually is, and it will show at this election ie- voting patterns will be like FPP. Look for 3rd party votes to be almost non-existant. Hopefully goodbye Rodney Hide.

  5. Proportional is not necessarily bad.
    I feel the right/libertarian need to do a better job of selling their message.
    But don't look at me: I get all shouty and start foaming at the mouth.

  6. "Hopefully goodbye Rodney Hide"

    Call yourself centre-right, do you?


  7. so the left reatced en bloc, did they? How come then your link to this " en block" details URLS that were there BEFORE Key made his announcement?

    Heh. En-block. yeah right....

  8. Under MMP, for the last 9 years, people who voted National (almost as many as voted Labour) did not have their vote count.

    But people who voted Green and NZ First for instance did have their vote count.

    Why was it fair that nearly half the electorate had no say, while the crazies did??

  9. Yes Mitch - getting rid of Hide will be a good thing for those on teh centre right. He has totally destroyed ACT - and I was involved with ACT from the beginning - and ensured they will never be taken seriously again.

    It must surely disgust Peter that so many so-called libertarians support such a joke of a party.

  10. The Socialist MO is to fool people into thinking we can prosper by helping ourselves to each others' pockets - that is, appeal to small groups (students, the elderly, racial minorities, GLBTs, eco-fascists) offering them some form of bribe at the expense of the rights of others in exchange for their votes.

    In contrast, the goal of the individualists on the right* is to reduce these wealth transfers so that people prosper according to their own efforts, not government policy.

    MMP allows the left to fragment to represent the small groups it seeks to bribe while allowing it's major vehicle, Labour, to appear more centrist and thereby not scare off voters who would vote National if they saw Labour appealing to these minorities. Following the election, Labour can then get back into bed with these groups and claim that the nature of MMP forced them to in order to give their voters the centre-left government they wanted.

    * These days, the leftist parties are more collectivist than the rightist parties. The view that homosexuality, abortion and other areas of personal freedom should not be regulated by the state has gained ground while the view that the state should not interfere with the economy has not. Thus, today's vote-seeking right don't oppose us on issues of personal freedom as much as they would once have. Since the left and right have similar positions on issues of personal freedom (Bill English notwithstanding), people see the left-right divide as economic regulation Vs economic freedom, where the right oppose us less than the left. This skewing is the reason people brand us Libz as right wing. Regardless of how awful we think they are, we still have more in common with ACT and National in turn than the rest. Of course, flip-flop boy's weaselwordedness has reduced this commonality.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.