Waatea News Column: Danger of Labour & Greens robbing Maori by changing MMP rules


There are real political dangers in the drive-by Labour and the Greens to remove the tail coating rule within MMP.

Both parties want to remove this feature while lowering the MMP threshold to one that benefits the Greens. The problem becomes exacerbated because the Māori Party have recently benefited from the coat-tailing rule in our last election.

Gerrymandering the MMP rules so that they benefit Labour and the Greens while robbing Māori of political representation would become a ticking time bomb for the Left.

Because Māori only make up 15% of the population, the thresholds being suggested by Labour and the Greens would penalise Māori, not promote their aspirations, in fact, one could argue that the coat-tailing rule, which was originally meant to allow for regional political representation, actually provides Māori with a direct way to gain political representation.

To remove this unique feature and replace it with a regime that only helps Labour and the Greens would set off a tsunami of criticism of the left by their own activists who would see the naked self-interest in such a move while taking from Māoridom a means to express their political voice.

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Labour and the Greens need to take a good long hard look at what they are proposing here.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. What goes around, comes around. I suspect long term the party that should be afraid of this is the Greens. But then again BMW Jimmy will be well gone by that stage.

  2. “Gerrymandering the MMP rules so that they benefit Labour and the Greens while robbing Māori of political representation would become a ticking time bomb for the Left.”

    “… taking from Māoridom a means to express their political voice.”

    Racist separatism. The 1986 Royal Commission on the electoral system recommended the abolition of the Maori seats if MMP was adopted for obvious democratic reasons.

  3. The recommendations from the Royal Commission recommended a number of things and I believe this is where we should move to frankly. Fewer wasted votes would benefit us all.

  4. Maori shouldn’t worry….I’m sure there will be a treaty clause, and an an eager minister to enact it, that will exempt the Maori Party from anything that’s percieved (whether factual or not) racist to their aspirations in gaining seats.

  5. The Maori Party have been pursuing a strategy of seeking electorate seats while de-emphasizing the party vote by telling their supporters to give their party votes to Labour.. It looks as though this strategy has, this time round, bitten them in the bum. The other parties recognize that the party vote is the important one.

    The PTB should reduce the threshold to zero, then each party would receive the exact number of seats that its percentage of the vote represented. The “coat tails” rule would then become otiose.

    • Zero threshold solves the proportionality of representation but gives the one-seat parties too much negotiating leverage when it comes to forming coalitions. There is no absolute right number for the threshold. Submissions to the MMP review wee weighted towards 2.5% to 3% but the recommendation was a lot more conservative at 4%. To date since MMP, only once has a party exceeded 4% and not got any seats.

  6. The removal of the coat-tail rule was recommended by the Electoral Commission following the 2012 MMP review. It’s not something dreamed up by the Lab/Greens.
    How does dropping the coat-tail rule benefit the Greens? Especially now with Chloe Swarbrick taking Auckland Central and could hold it for a while if she wants to.
    Forget who gets advantaged/disadvantaged and look at the fundamental principle of one person one vote – or in the case of MMP, one person one electorate vote and one party vote. What the coat-tail rule does is to give people in a particular electorate (effectively) two party votes.
    The experience of the coat-tail rule as it played out in Wellington Central, Ohariu and Epsom should be enough for us to want to see the back of it.
    MMP is a system that is ripe for gaming – taking out the coat-tail removes an opportunity for gaming around that element.

    As an historical aside on MMP, coat-tails, gaming and overhang – http://www.nowombats.com/?p=171


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