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New Zealand Mixed Member Proportional Electoral System

It is absolutely clear that the democracy is a kind of multilevel institution combined of numerous interconnected to each other parts. Representative function takes separate place to provide democratic values keeping there. Eventually, it is implemented through elections . Thus, different types of electoral systems are worth to be researched properly, to get the idea about their ability of democratic performance. Today, there is the attempt to take the look MMP (mixed member proportional) electoral system, which is officially adopted in New Zealand from 1994.

To begin with, the main features of MMP have to be outlined. Usually, this type called two-tiered electoral system. Thereby, voters have two votes. Naturally, these two votes intended to determine local members to House of Representatives and proportionality of parties’ representation in legislature. Electoral ballot consist of two parts. At the wright column, voters are able to vote for local representatives. Citizens of different electoral districts are able to vote for different candidates due to location factor. If certain candidate is the member of some contesting party, the mark about it is placed into ballot. At the left column, voters are able to show there party preferences, what will influence proportional division of parties’ seats in legislative authority. However, party votes do not determine which concrete members will take the seats. In case, voter took only one vote from two offered, ballot is considered valid still.

The issue of seats allocation seems to be one of the most relevant about mixed member proportional electoral system. At first, it has to be noticed that local representative wins the electoral race only if he/she obtained the highest number of votes at electorate (separate voting district). Election campaign is successful to party in case it obtained not less than 5% from the entire quantity of votes. This line is known as threshold. Parties that did not reach the line of 5% do not influence allocating of party seats in House of Representatives. The process of seats sharing depends on several key criteria. It has to be considered that the House of Representatives has 120 seats entirely. At the first hand, they are taken by independent winners of local elections. At second, reserved Maori quotes are considerable also. It should be added that Maori reserved seats are calculated in proportion to population. The same have to be said about electorates, which are established at certain areas before voting day. These electoral boundaries are generated with the help of “quinquennial census” method, named after the great French scholar. So, considering the seats for Maori and independent winners of electorate voting, the rest of places are filled by local representatives, who are not politically independent, and parties, which reached more than 5 % of party votes. Certain sequence of seats filling is traced here to. The point is about the quote of seats for each party, which is filled by local representatives at the first hand. For example, we have the party, which obtained ten seats according to the results of party voting. At the same time, this party has 3 winners of local votes. In this case, these three people will take their seats, leaving only 7 then for their party’s members. This proportional system of seats allocation can cause two serious problems known as overhang – if a party has more electorate MPs than proportional seats, and underhang – if the party does not have enough people on its list to fulfill its quota. To deal with underhang, the parties allowed to add some more members usually. On the other hand, overhang case are have multiple ways to be resolved, such as taking the number of additional list seats off from the other parties’ proportional entitlement or non-awarding of overhang seats. However, the general practice is tolerant to allow overhang resolving by adding some additional seats to 120 entire quantity, and New Zealand is not the exception.

These are the main features to get the idea about MMP electoral system. As well as any other legal institution, it has both pros and cons, which are emphasized by scholars. As for pros, this type is useful to implement both consensual values and needful links to area locations. At second, it takes the role of power monopolize reducing, due to large chances of threshold by little parties reaching. On the other hand, there one significant disadvantage known as “strategic voting” anomalies. This phenomenon can be manifested when activists from certain parties argue citizens of certain constituency not to what for local representative from their party, as his/her success can reduce amount of seats from quote based on party voting results. In respect to this fact, the disputes around MMP have reached unbelievable level recently. Especially, considering soon coming referendum, devoted to the question if mixed member proportionality replacing. Many people are wondered, how to improve democratic performance of Mixed member proportional electoral system? Seemingly, there is no only right answer to this question. The point is that changing or replacing some of inherent systems’ parts will lead to its entire failure as the independent type of electing procedure framework. At second, it has to be said that this type is useful to be called the most advanced solution for democracy implementation. The problems around it are not caused by gaps in the entire concept of MMP. They are mostly can be explained as unethical strange interference. Thereby, deeper independent control at process around elections will help to reduce negative performance. In this order, supervision apparatus improving and expanding is useful to become efficient solution. The other probable way out to improve democracy performance in country, but not MMP”s, is election system changing. Actually, this is the main question of referendum, which will be hold in 2011 in New Zealand. People will be proposed to replace MMP by First past the post (FPP), Preferential voting (PV), Single transferable vote (STV) or Supplementary member (SM). Whatever NZers will prefer, nobody can guarantee that the new system will be much more advanced. As it was noted above, every politically-legal institution is featured both by own advantages and disadvantages. Thus, NZers have to answer if are they sure that changes will be for better? MMP type election system is widely recognized, as consensus between majoritarian and consensual values of democratic representation. In some way, it can be defined as the tool to balance opposed to each other sides. Should it be replaced or changed essentially? Seemingly, no. It is supposed that no of offered alternatives will become more affecting for deeper democratic values rooting and improving.