Asked on Morning Report this morning whether the Greens would again be partners in a coalition with New Zealand First in 2020, Greens co-leader James Shaw replied: “Ultimately the voters get to decide what the formation of government looks like.”
Actually no, they don’t. That’s an out-and-out falsehood.
I’m sorry to keep banging on about this, but under MMP the voters have a limited role in deciding the outcome of elections. Their involvement ceases once they cast their votes, which is only the first half of the process.
As the last election made dramatically clear, the crucial second half is controlled by the politicians. It takes place behind closed doors and the voters have no control over the outcome. They don’t even know the terms on which the government is being formed. They might be told later, after the event, but there’s no guarantee even of that.
This is a very large pachyderm in the political room, and refusing to acknowledge it doesn’t make it go away.
In 2017, the government formation process resulted in a gross distortion of what the voters wanted, with a party that won only 7 percent of the vote exploiting a flawed system to demand – and get – a disproportionate share of power. The voters were shafted.
Yes, I know the old first-past-the-post arrangements were flawed too. But please, let’s abandon the fallacy that under MMP, the voters determine who will govern us. More than ever, the last general election exposed that as a Big Lie.