There is a lot of debate at present about whether we should keep MMP or not. People are becoming rather disillusioned with it now, because it isn’t necessarily delivering the accurate representation of the country that it was supposed to.
The biggest problem with MMP, in my opinion, is the 5% threshold. This threshold results in much of the strategic voting, where people may vote for a party they don’t entirely agree with and not for one they do, to ensure their votes count.
If we had no threshold, we would have seen representation from:
1996: Christian Coalition, ALCP, United
1999: Christian Heritage, Future NZ, ALCP
2002: Christian Heritage, Outdoor Recreation NZ, Alliance
In actual fact the results would have been quite different, as if people were less scared of wasting their vote all these parties would likely have polled far higher, and others may have gained representation too. We would have seen far greater diversity in parliament, and the last decade may have been very different – especially with representation from the Christian Coalition, which may never have split into CH and FNZ if they got in, and from ALCP. In my opinion this diversity would have been a very good thing, and Parliament would represent the country far more accurately than it does at present, because people would be more inclined to vote for who they truly believed was right, rather than vote for the lesser evil.
Another problem is the fact that the current calculations mean you can end up with an overhang. If the extra seats gained by a party that had more electorate seats than its party vote would entitle it to were subtracted from the total number of seats in the same way that seats gained by independant candidates are, this problem would be solved and we wouldn’t be paying more MPs than we needed to.
I personally like MMP in theory, because it allows better representation of minority views, but only in proportion to their numbers – which is exactly how democracy should work. But the current system with a 5% threshold does not do this very well. It would also be far simpler to get rid of the 5% threshold than change the electoral system completely again (to say STV or SM) and confuse everyone even more, so I see no reason why we shouldn’t just ditch the threshold for a couple of elections and see how it goes, provided we have a referendum after two elections with it to see what the public think. Best to try the simple option first, before considering another major change to our electoral system little more than a decade after the last change.