Understanding Party Lists
Who decides party lists?
Critical to the MMP system is the idea of a party list. Yes, it is true that the political parties will determine the composition of that list. No, it is not clear what mechanism they will use to choose who will end up on that list.
Could the party elite “stack” the list?
Theoretically, it is possible for the party elite to stack the lists with cronies. But this seems highly unlikely for at least two reasons:
Party members won’t allow it. The party members at the grassroots level are unlikely to let the elite make the decision for them. Remember that under our current system, local party elites have an enormous amount of influence in deciding who the candidates will be. It seems unlikely that they would tolerate having the party elite stack the list.
Voters won’t allow it. Given that the lists are made public before the election, no one would vote for a party that would put all its cronies in power. Can you imagine it? The media would have a field day!
Voting on the party list at a party convention
The other option is to have party members decide who should be on their party list. The most obvious way for this to happen is to hold a vote at a party convention.
No party membership, No say
Yes, it is true that anyone who does not officially belong to a political party will not have a say in what the lists look like. But this is also true in the current system. Neither system offers an advantage here.
Under the current system, if you don’t have party membership, you also don’t have a say in who your local candidates will be. The good news is that MMP does offer the average citizen a greater incentive to become politically active because party members will have greater influence on what the party slate looks like.