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March 11, 2013 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Politics (Right) – The Four-Party Hydra

It is election night 2014. Peter Dunne and John Banks have been defeated, losing their seats. The Māori Party has lost its three seats back to Labour. Despite John Key being the most popular political leader in a generation and National getting a miraculous 49 per cent of the vote, they are not able to govern.

The hydra will.

The hydra consists of a fanciful scenario in which Labour, the Greens, NZ First and Mana between them get 51 per cent of the vote and the subsequent seats in the House of Representatives. Sure it is democratic result—that is, after all, why MMP was inflicted on this country—but is it fair?

MMP was chosen by the Allies following the Second World War as the electoral system of post-war West Germany. The system is designed to be proportional, with a number of members being elected with a direct electoral mandate based on a geographic area, and other members being elected from party lists. A five per cent threshold or winning a single seat was required for a party to enter the German parliament. It was also designed to prevent the reemergence of one party rule in Germany, for obvious reasons.

In the New Zealand context after the period from 1984-1993, in which governments promised [time after time] not to do something, and did it anyway, voters had had a gutsful. In 1993 they voted for a change from the First Past the Post (FPP) to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) in a referendum. The first MMP election was held in 1996, leading to all sorts of hilarious hijinks which have ramifications for the present day. This was the first election at which NZ First MPs, besides Winston Peters and Tau Henare, were elected en masse.

Winston Peters has a history of destroying governments from the inside. In 1996, NZ First entered into a formal coalition with National, giving them their much-wanted third term in government. It was an utter disaster. A year and a half in, Winston walked out, but half of his MPs stayed to prop up the government. National were defeated in 1999.

In 2005, NZ First entered into a formal confidence and supply agreement with Labour, giving them their much-wanted third term in Government. It was an utter disaster. Three months before the 2008 election Winston stood down as Foreign Minister following allegations brought before the Privileges Committee of Parliament. Labour were defeated in 2008. NZ First lost all its parliamentary seats.

So this begs the question, would a four-party hydra make a strong government? Of course not.

With one MP chucked from NZ First, one waging a one-man crusade against “Wogistanis” and God knows what else lurking in the NZ First caucus, would the four party hydra last very long?

Hell no.


Freddie Hayek


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