[EM] Comments on MMP

James Green-Armytage jarmyta at antioch-college.edu
Thu Jul 24 13:54:37 PDT 2003

John Hodges wrote:
>Party-list PR, for all its faults, has some aspects that could be an 
>advantage, especially if applied only to part of the system. It 
>allows much larger district magnitudes than STV, so the threshold for 
>winning a seat can be much lower. 

I (James) reply:
	As I have mentioned before, it *is* completely possible to have STV
districts with just as many seats as any list PR district.
	The only drawback to this is that a computer interface might be needed
rather than a paper ballot, and voters need to be literate enough to use
	All the objections to high-magnitude STV on the basis of voters being
overwhelmed by all the choices are bologna. If a voter only ranks the
candidates running under his favorite party, then you already have all the
advantages of open list, plus an added sophistication in terms of
determining the relative strength of the candidates from that party. If
the voter chooses to rank any further candidates, then he is already
communicating more information than he is able to under list PR. To make
the process even more foolproof, it is simple enough to allow voters to
simply pick a party under STV, and agree with that party's pre-decided
rankings, either in terms of just ranking that party's candidates and
truncating the rest, or as a holistic ranking of all available candidates.
Along the same lines, with a computer interface you could pick one
individual candidate, and agree completely with his or her pre-specified
ranking of all the candidates.
	A really responsible citizen would probably be moved to rank the
candidates without such help, but as I've said before, even in this case
it is not at all necessary for them to rank *all* the candidates, for
heaven's sake.

John Hodges wrote:
>Greetings- For my continuing effort to educate myself on these 
>issues, I'd like to ask for people's views on the "mixed member 
>proportional" system, the prototype of which is Germany. (I've heard 
>New Zealand also has recently adopted this system, I'd like to learn 
>more details of that case also.)

I (James) reply:
	International IDEA has published a very handy booklet of electoral system
design, which can be downloaded at:
[http://www.idea.int/esd/publications.cfm]. They have explanation of
voting systems used on a national level, along with groovy charts and
maps. One of the case studies they do is New Zealand.

	Actually, I also expressed my most major concern with MMP in an earlier
post, which was in answer to your question about the desire to go beyond
STV. I assume that you have already read it, but I will post it here again
for convenience:

	"Also, I am still a little bit uneasy about how party list really
reinforces the whole sense of party identity and party unity. Some people
value that, I'm sure, but I am much happier seeing candidates and
politicians as individuals, rather than part of a collective ideological
	There are some countries where candidates *have* to run as part of a
political party, i.e. can't run as an independent. I'm thinking of Italy,
here, I think, but I imagine there are more. 
	Actually, that has always seemed to me to be a fatal flaw in the Mixed
Member Proportional (MMP) system, which is otherwise somewhat attractive:
it basically seems to assume that members of the same party are roughly
	One weird ramification of MMP is this: If you were allied to a party, but
you were allowed to run as an independent, and you think you would win
your district anyway, then as I see it, it would be in the interest of
your party for you to run as an independent, then just vote with them all
the time anyway once you got into office. That is, if you ran as an
independent, then when the extra members were added to assure party
proportionality, it would register your (undeclared) party as having one
less member, and hence they might stand to gain an extra compensatory
	Anyway, STV is much nicer in terms of a politics of individuals rather
than only parties. Using STV, nobody has to run with a party, and also it
is simple for voters to vote across party lines, which is often difficult
or impossible using party list systems."

	That's all a quote from my post from I think July 13, entitled "STV: who
could ask for anything more?" I believe that this agrees with some of the
comments that David Gamble has just posted.

	Personally, I prefer parallel systems to MMP systems, simply because MMP
can't exist without assuming some kind of party unity and
interchangeability. At least that is the case in any conception of MMP
that I've ever heard of.

-- James Green-Armytage

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