LEARN- The MMP System
The MMP System
There are 120 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives. This is the main form of Government, where we as a people are represented. Each seat is held by an MP (member of parliament), who is attached to a political party. This is where the MM comes from in MMP - Parliament is made up of a mix of members from different parties.
Every Kiwi gets 2 votes: One goes towards a political party, and one goes towards a representative for their region. This is known as an electoral vote.
The seats in Parliament are given to political parties in the same proportion that Kiwis vote for them. This is where the P comes from in MMP! In order to get seats in Parliament, a party must have at least 5% of the party vote.
In the electorates, the candidate with the most votes wins. This candidate is automatically given a seat in parliament as an electoral MP. So each political party will fill their seats first with electoral MPs, and then with other members of the party who do not represent an electorate (known as list MPs).
For example In 2014, The Labour party won 25.1% of the party vote. They were given 32 seats in parliament. 27 of their party members represent an electorate. So sitting in the Labour seats in parliament, are the 27 representatives plus another 5 list MPs.
The role of Prime Minister (head of the government) is awarded to the head of the party with the largest number of seats. If this party has more than 60 seats, they can make decisions easily as they have a simple majority. If not, parties form coalitions. A coalition is when two or more parties form an alliance, so that they can have a majority in Parliament.
In 2014, the ACT party won 0.69% of the party vote. This means that they should be given 0 seats in Parliament. However, one of their members represents an electorate. This is a puzzling problem – what should Parliament do? They can’t take away a seat from another party, but all electoral MPs must have a seat.
Whenever this happens (and it does happen!) another seat is added to Parliament. Now there will be 121 seats (or possibly more) – the other parties get the share they are meant to, and the ACT electoral MP can have a seat too. There are special seats called overhang seats in the House of Representatives for this purpose.