88,072 is the number of New Zealanders whose voices have not, but maybe should have, been counted last weekend. I will be the first to admit that I am (very very) glad Winston is gone, and if that did not involve throwing away the Party votes of 88 thousand New Zealanders, that would be fine. It might even be okay if New Zealand First polled lower than any other Party. I could certainly live with it if they couldn’t have gained a single seat anyway. But ACT, the Progressives, and United Future are all sitting in Parliament with less Party votes- the supposedly more important vote- than New Zealand First.
Act New Zealand had its 77,843 votes counted because of 18,583 voters in Epsom. The Progressives had their 19,536 votes counted because of 14,174 electors in Wigram. And, to our electorate’s eternal infamy, 11,250 voters in Öhariu caused the 18,629 votes for United Future to count. The Maori Party had its 46,894 party votes overhung by its 67,466 electorate votes1. Why should it take less electors to get a party through the threshold than it actually takes them to earn their list seat?
If we’re going to get rid of politicians who fall out of favour- like Winston Peters- can we please not do it by ignoring the votes of tens of thousands of New Zealanders? Personally, I think it’s time- and past time- that we stopped making electorates more important than they should be2, and set the threshold to the amount of party votes required to win a single list seat outright. Had we abolished the party vote threshold and allowed every Party that wins a list seat outright into Parliament, here is what the (pre-special vote) results would have looked like:
Note that this would not have changed the government, nor John Key’s ability to govern without the Mäori Party.
1And I hope the fact that it required more electorate votes than Party votes for the Maori Party to secure two overhang seats will help pacify, to some degree, those who protest against them claiming overhang seats, despite having little problem with MPs like Peter Dunne having done so in the past.
2That is, electorates should be about choosing a specific MP to go into Parliament, not about giving small parties a boost.