One of the more unpopular features of MMP is the ability of an electorate MP sacked by his electorate to remain in Parliament as a list MP.
The upcoming review of MMP will look at this issue, along with many others.
One solution that has been mooted is you don't allow electorate candidates to stand on the party list - they must choose one or the other.
This is superficially appealing, but has two serious drawbacks.
The first is that if no electorate candidates are on the party list, then they have no personal incentive to campaign for the party vote, and hence parties will have candidates campaigning for the wrong vote.
The second is that it would mean that respected list MPs such as Attorney-General wouldn't stand in safe seats held by another party, such as Rongotai where he does stand. He would stand list only.
In discussing this issue with a colleague a few days ago, we identified that the reason many members of the public don't like list MPs is because they are indirectly elected via parties, rather than directly elected by voters.
A list MP gets elected because people vote for a party, and the party has ranked them highly. An electorate MP gets elected because people tick their name at the ballot box.
The idea that came to mind was that rather than ban electorate candidates from being on the party list, how about you instead introduce term limits for list MPs.
This would mean that you could only spend say three terms or nine years maximum in Parliament as a list MP.This would reduce the power of political parties to keep putting back into Parliament someone who is not wanted by their electorate.
The theory is that if you don't like the inclusion of someone on a party list, you can simply not vote for that party. But the reality is that no one is going to change their party vote on the basis of who is say No 11 on a party list.
You could argue why not have term limits for both electorate and list MPs. I happen to think there is some merit in that. But the argument is that electorate MPs are directly elected by the people, and can be directly sacked by the people. List MPs are indirectly elected, and hence term limits are more appropriate.
What do you think? Would you support say a limit of three terms or nine years for someone to remain a list MP?
David Farrar is a centre-right blogger affiliated to the National Party. His disclosure statement is here.
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