Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sore losers


The leading commentator of our country's sizable Grumpy Old White Man demographic, Karl Du Fresne, has some thoughts on what's wrong with our MMP electoral system.  Apparently, the problem is that MMP is different from the FPP electoral system we used to have, which had (to Karl's mind) the awesome feature that it was easily capable of returning National to power with a minority of the vote.

There are various things about MMP you could describe as problems, but I wouldn't have listed "fails to make National the government when they get a minority of the vote" as one of them.  Karl disagrees:

For the first time since New Zealand adopted the MMP system in 1993, the party that won the biggest share of the vote didn't form the government.
...

Many insist, bizarrely, that this is an example of MMP working exactly as intended, but I would argue that it points to a gaping void in our constitutional arrangements...
...

In a proper rules-based democracy, this whole process would surely have been controlled by the head of state – or in our case, her representative, the governor-general.

There are two horrendous pieces of foolishness in there:

1. Let's suppose a rule were to be built into MMP that the largest party gets to form the government.  The pretty obvious effect would be that any voter who didn't want a National government would have to vote Labour, and vice versa.  Voting for any other party would be a waste of your vote.  If that sounds familiar, it's because that's what happened under FPP, and is the reason the country voted to get rid of FPP.  The point of MMP is that your vote should count even if you don't vote for a major party - Karl may not like that, but it's not "bizarre," it's a deliberate feature that the country voted to have.

2. There is no gaping void in our constitutional arrangements.  Just like under FPP, the government is formed by the party or parties that can command the confidence of the House.  What Karl is proposing is a wholesale butchering of our constitution via the removal of that definition of government and its replacement with government by the largest party, as overseen by the Governor General.  Now, that is "bizarre."

What this grumpy-old-man wailing is really all about is being a sore loser.  They try to dress it up in fancy clothes of one kind or another, but none of it disguises the sore loser underneath.

18 comments:

The Veteran said...

PM ... you conveniently forgot from your thesis that the drunken dwarf is on record in saying in years past that the Party holding the greatest number of seats should have first crack at forming the government. That was a principled statement.

But principles and WRP don't necessarily sit well together and last time round 'he' decided to conduct simultaneous with both National and Labour which we now know was a farce because as far as he was concerned National was a busted flush ... per courtesy of the High Court papers lodged by him one day out from the election.

Yes, the present government is legitimate but whether it has a moral mandate is a moot.

Karl Du Fresne has a point.

Psycho Milt said...

I didn't forget it, I just didn't consider it worth including. Winston Peters' views on how MMP should work are of no more value than anyone else's.

It certainly does look like he negotiated with National solely for the purposes of leverage in his negotiations with Labour. I guess it's just too bad for National that it went with a strategy of trying to push Winston First below the 5% threshold (via leaking his NZ Super overpayment details) so that it could pick up a share of that wasted vote and govern alone. It was a high-risk strategy and when it failed their ability to cut a deal with Winston First was pretty much 0.

Of course, if the strategy had succeeded, National would be governing now with a minority of the vote - now that would be a government without a moral mandate.

macdoctor said...

Your first point is nonsense. Your alternatives to voting National would be unchanged. The only difference Du Fresne is suggesting is that the Governor- general oversees the process to prevent gaming the negotiations and that the GG would invite the largest party to try and form a government first (as the likeliest and most stable option). In this case, the result would most likely have been the same (since Peters was clearly not willing to negotiate with National) but there would have been much less leverage on Ardern, meaning less concessions to Peters and a much more coherent government.

Your second point is therefore redundant. No-one is suggesting that every government should be set up by the largest party, only that they should have the first go at setting up a government. This means more stable government and no gaming of negotiations merely to feather a minor party's nest.

Noel said...


"Karl Du Fresne has a point."
No he doesn't. A majority of voters were quite happy at the last referendum for MMP to remain with a little tweaking that didn't happen.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Well, yes he does, Noel.

You might not agree with it but he does have a point.

Get used to it.

Noel said...

Adolf Veterans got it right "Yes, the present government is legitimate"

Anonymous said...

Its funny that the lefties like and defend what we got because it suits them hence they will, correctly, point out that the government is legitimate whether I like what we got or not. On that basis I'd wish they'd shut up about Trump who is just as legitimate.

I'd love to read the NZ constitution - something unwritten is not worth the paper its not written on.

3:16

The Veteran said...

macdoctor 1.41 uptick, uptick

Noel said...

"Its funny that the lefties like and defend what we got because it suits them hence they will, correctly, point out that the government is legitimate"

Could have sworn Veteran was dyed in the wool National?

The Veteran said...

Noel ... the word 'correctly' makes your comment a nonsense.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Don't worry Noel.

When your friends Ardern, Peters and Co turn NZ into a South Pacific 'shithole,' you'll be able to line up for a lottery visa for the USA where the economy is going gang busters. (If you're quick enough, that is.

Noel said...

Dont put the blame kn me Adolt. Didnt vote for any of them.

Psycho Milt said...

Your alternatives to voting National would be unchanged.

Really? You're anticipating that, under the system in which the largest party is invited to form a government, left-wing voters would tell themselves "No need to vote Labour, after all they'll get the second go at forming a government"? Don't you have a job that requires you to make realistic assessments of people's behaviour?

The only difference Du Fresne is suggesting is that the Governor- general oversees the process to prevent gaming the negotiations and that the GG would invite the largest party to try and form a government first...

Er, yes. The difference Du Fresne is suggesting is that we trample our (admittedly unwritten) constitution by inviting the Queen's representative to oversee the formation of governments and that said representative should actively encourage voters to vote for one of two main parties rather than minor ones. I get why right-wingers would like to impose such a fucked-up system on us, but why would anyone else want it.

The Veteran said...

Milt ... not at all. Just that the GG should first give the Party holding the most number of seats the opportunity to form a government. If they can't do that then it's open season for the everyone else to coerce together. 'Fucked up system' ... you mean the farce that took place last time is to be admired.

Question #1 How do you trample an unwritten constitution.

Question #2 How does this in any way suggest that the GG would be encouraging voters to vote for one of the two major parties. MMP is structured to produce multi-party government. National at its zenith in 2014 could only manage 60/121 seats.

Psycho Milt said...

Question #1 How do you trample an unwritten constitution.

Well, that's an inherent problem in having an unwritten constitution, isn't it? It's based on people being trusted to do the right thing. A written one would be a hell of a lot better, but not one written to ensure National governments in perpetuity thanks.

Question #2 How does this in any way suggest that the GG would be encouraging voters to vote for one of the two major parties. MMP is structured to produce multi-party government.

It is now, sure. It wouldn't be if Karl got his way, though. Suppose the situation were reversed: the left vote is almost entirely concentrated in Labour and they're on 40%+. The right vote is split between the National and ACT parties, with National not getting past the mid-30s. Under Karl Du Fresne's proposed fuckwittery, the GG ends up asking Labour to try and form a government after every single election. So, in that situation, would voters on the right say "Gosh, well, fair enough chaps, we'll just wait and see if Labour fails to form a government," or would they say "Fuck this, we need to focus our vote on one party and make sure it has the highest number of seats"? Now, much as I ridicule right-wing voters on occasion, I don't believe they're complete fucking morons so I'm picking they'd go with number 2. Which is why Karl's proposed fuckwittery is effectively a re-imposition of FPP by stealth.

Anonymous said...

To be honest when the GG was mentioned my first thought was "Kerr's cur" or whatever the quote was.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Milt the essential fallacy in your argument is that Kiwi voters are thick.

In September the turkeys voted for Christmas.

Gerald said...

They cannot be that thick Adolt. The majority of voters have a Government.