Heather Roy

10 August 2020

One of the problems the MMP 5 percent threshold throws up is the dilemma of the wasted vote. It’s one of several reasons I have for wanting electoral reform – at the very least to drop the threshold or at best get rid of the threshold completely.

Kiwis prize the two votes they get under MMP. Sometimes I think they prize these more than democracy itself, but that’s another story. We hate the thought our vote might be wasted and that is a dilemma for the minor parties. Without the security of an electorate seat a political party must get 5 percent of the vote to reach the threshold of getting its members elected to parliament. To get one MP elected takes on average 0.8 percent of the total party vote. Five percent is a very high threshold, so high it is virtually impossible to have a new party established unless they can win an electorate – another very long shot. Here is our podcast about the wasted vote:


So how can voters have an assurance their vote will count if they want to vote for a small party, even if it does best represent their views? I’d be rich if I’d had a dollar each time a supporter said to me I really want to vote for your party but I don’t want to waste my vote. I knew often that voter would give their party vote to National instead of ACT. The sad fact is we can only have a truly representative government if every voter gives their party vote to the party they want in parliament.

Instead, the high threshold turns voters into predictors of the future, who then try to vote “strategically”. Nothing representative about that at all.