The campaign to keep MMP (mixed Member Proportional) electoral system got underway in Hamilton on 1 December when members of the national campaign for MMP came to town.
For political scientists Ana Gilling and Sandra Grey, MMP is the fairest and most representative electoral system. Other speakers, Jeanette Fitzsimmons, Sue Moroney and Hineraumoa Te Apatu, reminded us that MMP is good for women and good for diversity.
Since changing to MMP the New Zealand parliament is much more representative of our diverse community than it was previously. In 1993, women were only 21% of New Zealand's parliament. In 2010, women are 33.6% of the MPs and there are six women cabinet ministers. Thanks largely to MMP, women have a greater opportunity to frame the issues and shape the agenda of parliament. And our parliaments are now much more representative of our ethnically diverse nation.
Under FPP (First Past the Post) New Zealand saw governments elected with only minority support who governed with "unbridled power" unrestrained by other views. Those in safe seats were disenfranchised while those in marginal seats wielded undue influence in elections.
MMP makes your vote count. It tempers the extremes of a two party system and requires governments to negotiate with a range of perspectives. It is not always a tidy process but it more fairly reflects the community's diverse views.
Next year's referendum will decide whether to keep MMP or not. A vote to keep MMP will trigger a review which will give the opportunity for improvements to be debated.