Mmp: Improving Politcal Diversity And Contrasting Fpp

1336 words - 5 pages

It is evident that the diversity of New Zealand Parliament has increased both socially and politically since the introduction of the Mixed Member Proportionality (MMP) electoral system in 1996. The first part of this essay will focus on the mechanisms of how MMP significantly improved the political diversity in different areas. I will explain this by examining the key differences between MMP and its predecessor, First-Past-the-Post (FPP). The second part of this essay will explore the reasons why social diversity and minority representation in parliament has improved under MMP, with reference to the interesting effect of ‘macrocontagion’.

Prior to 1996, elections in New Zealand were held under the plurality (or FPP) system. Under this electoral system, the candidate with the most percentage votes wins the seat in that electorate and the remaining votes for all other candidates are simply discounted. Thus, supporters of smaller parties gradually lost their incentive to vote for candidates from these parties, in order to avoid casting “wasted votes”. Therefore, FPP ultimately assisted the formation of a ‘two-party’ government with very limited political diversity. MMP, however, brings a new era of active participation from small parties in Parliament. Introduction of the crucial and decisive party vote under MMP means parliamentary seats are now allocated in proportion to the percentage of party votes each party receives, thus ensuring every vote is counted towards the determination of parliament composition. As a result, supports given to smaller parties suddenly multiplied. This is simply because voters are now empowered to bring these parties into parliament by cast their votes directly to the parties. With enough party votes, MPs from minor parties can now enter the parliament through a “party-list” rather than the need of winning an electorate. In the first MMP election in 1996, a total of 39 MPs from small parties were voted into parliament, as opposed to four in 1993 . With the total number of parties in house rising from four to six, arguably, MMP fundamentally transformed the political diversity and dynamics of the government.

The government formation process prior to the introduction of MMP was remarkably simple and straightforward . The party with the majority electorate seats won in the election ‘takes it all’ and forms the government with little doubt. With absence of sufficient opposition representation, the single-party majority government is usually decisive and strong. Yet, as the small parties entering the parliament under MMP, the potential for ‘unbridled’ cabinet dominance of such government was significantly reduced ; it was simply much harder for any party to achieve an absolute majority in parliament, which means the position of small parties now becomes pivotal. Therefore, rather than attempting to maximise the votes and pursuing a majority, it is now preferable for the larger parties to seek support from...

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