Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Does America need MMP?

I was watching the Rachel Maddow Show from last night where she did a segment on how gerrymandering in America has left Republicans in control of the House even though 1.4million more people in total voted for Democratic Congressional candidates. Take a look at these screenshots I got from her show.

In Michigan, more people voted for democrats but got less seats:

Same in Pennsylvania - 8 more seats:

In the case of Ohio where they won 8 more seats (3x) even though they got only 240,000 more votes. That means they got 10% more votes than the Democrats but 200% more seats.

So what is MMP?

Otherwise known aMixed-member proportional representation apparently started in Germany has been incorporated in New Zealand among other countries. In New Zealand, when we vote for the House of Representatives, we get two votes. We vote for the electoral candidate that we want from our electorate (American equivalent of a district) and then we also vote for a party. The House of Representatives is made up of all those who win their electorate seats but the total number of MPs reflects the percentage of votes the party got ensuring that some people are elected who do not represent a geographic district. 

Now some people think that those MPs (known as list MPs in New Zealand) are not real MPs because they do not represent a geographic area. But people are identified by more than where they come from. They are identified by their values and their expectations from Government. List MPs ensure that those who vote for the Labour candidate still have their views represented. They ensure that the party values are represented even if you vote for a different candidate for the electorate seat because s/he is very good at dealing with representing the electorate as a whole. 

Maybe the U.S. should look into this for their House of Representatives. Americans will tell me my suggestion is blasphemy. It is unconstitutional. Well, I say to that the Constitution wasn't perfect. It originally thought African Americans were 3/4ths of a person. Maybe its time to rethink and consider democracy. Maybe its time to vote for a government that actually governs.  


  1. It's really having a separately elected executive president that's the problem, combined with a 60% supermajority being required for the Senate to pass anything over a gerrymander. If the president was either elected by Congress, or could dissolve Congress and call a fresh election, the problem would go away, like in NZ, Europe and all the old Commonwealth states.

    The reason they didn't go with this is that in 1776, parliamentary democracy had never really been tried*, and wouldn't be for maybe a hundred years. Britain was an oligarchy with MPs being effectively nominated by the aristocracy, and most other countries were absolute monarchies.

    Except, anecdotally, in Iceland.

  2. I actually think that there needs to be more separation between the executive and legislative in NZ... I think a move towards Republic and more checks would be good. The US has a Senate and in my mind this would only apply to the House of Rep which is where the undemocraticness comes in... but you make good points.