In 2012 the Electoral Commission released its review of the MMP system. That review recommended abolishing the “coat-tailing” rule. That’s the rule allowing a party getting less than 5% of the party vote to gain additional MPs if the party manages to win an electoral seat (assuming the party gets more than about 1.2% of the party vote).
The rule has in recent years resulted in National doing electorate deals with ACT and Peter Dunne. In 2008 ACT got 3.65% of the party vote. That’s less than the 4% New Zealand First got. But because Rodney Hide was gifted Epsom, ACT gained an additional four list seats, while New Zealand First got none.
Justice Minister Judith Collins could have acted decisively in 2013 when it came time to consider the recommendations of the Electoral Commission. She could have chosen to put an end to the shabby deals that so blight our MMP system, but she decided not to.
Presumably, Judith Collins figured that the “coat-tailing” rule would only ever benefit the right, because in the past Labour has been averse to doing electorate deals. It may never have occurred to Judith Collins that the rule could be used by the left to its advantage as soon as the 2014 election.
If Mana-Internet get 3 or 4 MPs in as a result of the coat-tailing rule, that result may put the parties of the left in a position to form the next government.
If that happens, those on the left must be sure to give thanks to the people who made it possible. Even as they savour the delights of victory, they ought to take the time to honour those whose contribution made the biggest difference to the result.
So if we end up with a Labour-led government thanks to Mana-Internet, those on the left should remember to give Judith Collins a big thank-you hug.
Coming soon: Part Two, in which we thank God that ACT chose Jamie Whyte to lead them.