I like the way Snrub thinks!

The Electoral Commission's proposed changes to MMP are on the table. Whether or not you like them, you still should tell the Commission what you think.

Given that the Electoral Commission's preliminary report on its review of MMP pretty much says what I thought it should, it shouldn't be much surprise that I agree with its conclusions and recommendations.

In fact, there is only one issue on which the Commission's report really differs from the submission I made to it. (While I neglected to discuss the issue of overhang seats in my written submission, in my oral one I supported doing away with them and simply fixing Parliament at 120 seats (as the Commission is now recommending).) My submission favoured a 2.5% party vote threshold as representing the best balance of ensuring proportionality and safeguarding effective government and legislative institutions.

The Commission instead has plumped for a 4% threshold. It's reasoning is:

In conclusion, therefore, the Commission’s sense is that 5% is too high and that 3% is the lowest end of an acceptable range. We suggest 4% is preferable. It reflects the Royal Commission’s original recommendation. It would compensate for abolition of the one electorate seat threshold. It is in line with comparable democracies such as Norway and Sweden. And it is in line with public opinion and the weight of submissions received by the Commission.

I guess that's OK with me - any figure is a compromise one (as I discuss here), and reasonable minds may differ on the right place to strike that compromise. Further, I think the Commission couldn't really justify recommending Parliament go as low as 3% (it's view of the lowest "acceptable" figure) in light of the weight of submissions it received. Granted, a big part of its job was to assess the merits of arguments presented to it, not just count the numbers of people favouring different proposals. But there were so few submissions favouring a threshold of 3% as compared with those favouring 4% (or even the status quo of 5%, much less raising the present figure) that the reasons for going that low would have to be very, very compelling. Or, to put it another way, the Commission would have had to have a solid, knock-down argument to justify why it's view of the proper balance between representativeness and promoting cohesive government and legislative teams ought to differ so markedly from that of "the people". And I'm just not sure such solid, knock-down arguments exist on this particular issue.

So now we move on to the next stage. The Commission is now seeking feedback on its proposed recommendations (many of which are "don't change anything"). From there, its final report will go to the Minister of Justice. And from there ... who knows? Because the Commission's preliminary recommendations are a bit different to those put forwards by the political parties that have MPs in the House, and who thus will get the final say on what (if anything) happens to MMP.

Therefore, if you want to change the Commission's mind on its proposed recommendations, you'll have to tell them why. And if you think there's merit in the Commission's views and would like to see them put into practice, you also should tell them so. Because unless there's demonstrable public support for what the Commission is saying, then it'll be in the interests of at least some parliamentarians to ignore it.