Sunday, September 30, 2007

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: I've read that MMP will give one-issue fringe parties the balance of power. Is this true?

There are some who claim that MMP will allow small fringe parties to call the shots. But the 3% threshold chosen by the Citizens' Assembly will keep out many of the single-issue extremists.

In 2003, even the Green Party won less than 3% of the vote. No other small parties have won more than 3% of the vote in recent times. But even if some smaller parties do achieve the 3% threshold, it is far more likely that a major party will want to form coalitions with other large parties where compromise is both possible and more agreeable.

Any fringe parties that win representation at Queen's Park would be under scrutiny by the public and the media for their actions. Narrow-interest parties that have little broad appeal tend to have short staying power. In other jurisdictions with MMP, such parties emerged with representation, but frequently disappeared after voters got a closer look at them (and decided they didn't like what they saw) and subsequently those parties slipped back under the vote threshold for representation. Such a scenario would likely happen here.

There is no history of fringe parties holding the balance of power in European countries with MMP.


aginsberg said...

What would you call the United Future and New Zealand First parties that currently hold the balance of power in New Zealand? Oh, I'm sorry you said European countries with MMP. So it has never happened in Germany? Great. Now, who's the most natural coalition party for the PC's?

Matt Guerin said...

Close, but no dice, aginsberg. Those parties don't hold the balance of power in New Zealand. Together, they still don't give Labour over 50% of the seats.

Even though some commentators saw stable government within the relatively new MMP electoral system as unlikely, Clark's supporters credit her with maintaining two terms of stable MMP government, as well as with forming the current government given the relatively close election-result.

Good leadership can make MMP and coalitions work.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

I would also point out that United Future wouldn't get into the legislature under the proposal for MMP in Ontario, as they received less than 3% of the vote. There's little point in claiming that two small parties hold the balance of power in New Zealand, and that this is a bad thing when A) it's not true, and B) one of those parties wouldn't have elected ANYONE under the threshold recommended for Ontario.

Unless of course you want to scare people away from MMP by using examples that sound scary, if you ignore the facts. And of course, that's what aginsberg is trying to do I suspect.