New Zealand's two largest parties are up to no good. A significant part of this 2011 election is a referendum on NZ's voting system. History has taught me how these referendums are misused. I am reminded of the Australian referendum on becoming a republic. Most people wanted to become a republic, but the government offered a choice no one wanted, so the Republic idea was voted down. In effect, John Howard, the Conservative, sabotaged the process.
In the case of the NZ referendum, both parties are being tight-lipped about their choice. Expect this to change after the referendum is held; and perhaps sooner, if they get a sense that the wind is blowing the wrong way. The Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system is the best system - and it ought to be kept for now. The only better approach would be a lower hurdle for getting elected, i..e Currently a party needs 5% of the national vote in order to get a list MP allocation, or a electorate seat. This is an unnecessary obstacle to representation, so I think the 5% hurdle should be lowered to 100/120=0.8%.
The MMP system is popular; and that is likely because people appreciate the appeal of having greater competition in parliament. The problem of course is that minor parties are not given the same airtime as the major candidates. There is no justifiable reason for this limitation, as it effectively means that the media defines which candidates are successful. In fact, minority candidates might have to adopt controversial positions in order to get media attention, and the implication of that is that they might be seen as 'extreme'....whatever that means? Extremely principled is a bad thing in a pragmatic political discourse based on extortion, i.e. The tyranny of the majority.
MMP is criticised for forcing the government into coalitions with minor parties, i.e. the need to negotiate with others. What a terrible outcome? Yes, the late Roger Kerr, head of the NZ Business Roundtable supported FPP; the system which sees a very popular Libertarian Party in the US lack any representation, despite strong support, which is forced to back conservatives or liberals. But Kerr is satisfied because it delivers 'decisive government'. Hitler was decisive. But business likes that; just as many churches and business executives liked Hitler until he started shooting people. But that's not extreme; because decisiveness is economically 'pragmatic'; well, except for the Jews and minority parties, whose interests are marginalised. What the other systems offer is more power to the major parties. This is bad because it means less accountability and less competition. It is true that minor parties can extort influence by holding the balance of power, however this is not the problem with MMP, but rather the folly of representative democracy which gives a moral sanction to the majority; and not to rational arguments, no matter who holds them. Yes, for centuries political parties have advanced the representative democratic system because it delivers arbitrary power to them. Perhaps that was the best they could do 500 years ago; but now we can do better...now we need a meritocratic approach to government. Now reason ought to be the standard of value; just like it 'kind of' is in our court system. The difference of course is that power should not be so centralised. Do that - and you will live through another political-economic revolution.
For more information on your voting choices see MMP system along with others indicated. My concern is that, even if you choose MMP in the referendum, the next government will have the power to 'tinker' with it. This could see you placed between a rock and a hard place, like they were in Australia, i.e. I can see how the government will try to raise the hurdle - maybe to 10%, to reduce the influence of the minor parties. Beware!