The Electoral Commission has impartially recommended a reduction of the 5% MMP threshold to 4%, to improve NZ’s voting system.
Justice Minister Fa’afoi’s comment that it would have “significant implications,” amounts to tossing it away for another decade, much to the benefit of his Labour government.
ACT wants no change as they benefit from seats in parliament they could not maintain without having National as a crutch. Seymour says it keeps out fringe extremists, but it hasn’t kept ACT out.
The 5% barrier is a very powerful and effective means of political suppression, preventing new parties from growing and entering Parliament, while maintaining a National/Labour monopoly.
No new political party formed in the 30 years since MMP was introduced has ever entered parliament by gaining 5% of the vote.
It also acts against smaller parties, by:
- Media using it to determine press coverage for smaller parties. The further from the 5% threshold the lower the publicity, if any.
- TV leaders debates have prevented the highest polling parties outside parliament, TOP and New Conservative, from reaching the public over the last 2 elections.
- The threshold affects calculations for election broadcasting funding.
- The smaller parties can lose up to 50% of their vote at election time due to the ‘wasted vote ‘ concern. This is obviously reduced with a lower threshold.
However, when we consider the combined effect of the Broadcasting Act 1989 and the 5% threshold, it makes things far worse, effectively blocking out smaller political parties altogether.
The Broadcasting Act is a political scam wasting millions of dollars of public money. Labour and National each take $1 million or more for Broadcasting at election time. Red/Blue privilege. If their parties have sufficient support as they claim, then they should pay their own costs.
Minor parties may only get $40,000 to $60,000, enough for just two 30 second TV ads during the 6 o’clock news. Worst of all, parties are forbidden by law from buying any tv or radio time with their own funds.
The public still gets most of its news from Radio and TV, and the smaller parties are excluded from it.
It is impossible to mount any serious election campaign under current NZ law for smaller parties. The 5% barrier and the Broadcasting Act effectively work together to suppress political expression and therefore freedom of speech, and are a continuing stain on NZ democracy.
7.9% of the voting public in the 2020 election are not represented in parliament because of this threshold. New Conservative believes if a party receives 0.833% of the vote, they should be given a seat in parliament. That is truly mixed member proportional and would really improve NZ’s voting system.
Ted Johnston BSc BA LLB. Party Secretary, New Conservative