This is a guest post submitted by Bruce Tulloch. It also happens to be his submission to the MMP Review.
I believe that the one MP threshold which allows a “Tail” of extra MPS in despite less than 5% overall support should be withdrawn.
The Winston Peters phenomenon shows the impact of personality over policy. Charisma plus publicity (very largely free in Winston’s case) can have a huge effect on the electoral outcome.
ACT, with neither personalities nor policies with more than marginal appeal, did very poorly in this election. Despite getting donations ten times those of the Greens they got less than 1/10 of the Green vote, however with this sort of money a party with a more telegenic candidate plus saturation advertising and manipulated coverage could well swing one electoral seat and an increased party vote.
84.3% of ACT’s donations were were of $5,001 or more, only 5.4% were under $1,500. ACT received a very significantly higher proportion of large donations than National, Labour or the Greens.
The Conservative Party apparently did not release its donation figures to the Electoral Commission by the deadline but its election costs were the second highest at $1,878,000, some 80% of National’s total. It appears the bulk of the funding came from the party’s leader. They achieved 2.65% of the party votes.
The dominance of support for ACT and the Conservatives by a relatively small number of big donors and the lack of widespread voter support would indicate that their best tactic is concentration of force, to focus on a single electorate (as in Epsom) and thereby drag in extra MPs, despite less than 5% support.
This distorts proportionality and is also wide open to collusion with other parties hoping for inflated support from ideological allies or manipulable opportunists.
Therefore the one-electorate threshold should be dropped.