THE COVID ELECTION
In a number of ways, the result of the election may, depending on your point of view, be excellent, satisfactory or a downright shame.
However, the one issue that sticks out a mile is the high threshold that the smaller parties have to hurdle. A 5 % threshold is manifestly unfair.
Unfair to the 7 + % of voters who stuck to their principles and voted for a small party knowing full well that the vote was going to be given away to a larger party.
Further, how many voters decided not to vote for a smaller party although they the voter were in tune with the policies of a smaller party? worried about a wasted vote.
With approximately 3,400,000 registered voters and an 82.5% turnout, 2,805,000 votes were cast of which 7-8% are re-distributed. Thus about 210,000 voters were effectively dis-franchised.
The Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system of government was enacted over 20 years ago to modify the “first past the post system” and the winner takes all. Remember the Upper House which could act as a handbrake was abolished in the 1950s. Look what we have finished up with, essentially a one-party state. MMP clearly needs to be revised, improved and modernised to ensure that all voters can have their say without handicap.
A study of the Swiss system of Modern Direct Democracy shows that the Swiss have no party threshold for their national elections. The result is that in the Federal Parliament they finish up with 11 or more, parties of various size and flavours. Currently, the largest party in the Swiss assembly holds 29.4 % of the vote, The remainder progressively down to .3% of the vote. Yes, that’s right, less than 1%. The Swiss parties have to form alliances with other parties to legislate and as you can see the power of the largest party or parties is curtailed. The result is that legislation is less likely to be rushed through. The issue is thoroughly examined before enactment. The Swiss have other measures to ensure that the Swiss voters have their say. The tools of Modern Direct Democracy make the Swiss voter sovereign over parliament. Effectively they become the “opposition”. We could do with those tools, but first, the threshold has to come down.
I suggest that all on this mailing list who voted for a small party are therefore dis-franchised. Why not get in touch with the party management and press for electoral reform? All the small parties need to get together and collaborate on the threshold issue. The best of party policies are going nowhere unless the party has a voice in parliament. Think of all the advertising and other costs associated with running an election campaign. All down the drain.
How long can we continue with this unfair arrangement? Of course, time money and effort will be needed. My own view is that the small parties have to work together on this matter.
I look forward to your comments