Friday, 22 March 2019

Waka-Jumping in the Welsh Assembly.

There has always been a problem with the Welsh Assembly's election system which uses a top up system 

In general elections , each voter has two votes in a mixed member system. The first vote is for a candidate to become the Assembly Member for the voter's constituency, elected by the first past the post system. The second vote is for a regional closed party list of candidates. Additional member seats are allocated from the lists by the d'Hondt method, with constituency results being taken into account in the allocation. The overall result is approximately proportional.
Previously it was not allowed to stand in both a constituency and a regional list, but this rule was abolished by the Wales Act 2014. The Act also introduced a ban on dual mandates with the House of Commons: an Assembly Member is no longer allowed also to be an MP.

The main problem ha been with members elected on the party list system who leave the party or are expelled  and join another or sit as Independents.
At the last Assembly Elections Ukip won seven seats under the additional member system . but are now down to four, Plaid have seen their numbers reduced with the suspension/expulsion  of Neil McEvoy and Dafydd Elis Thomas  (a constituency AM) leaving Plaid to join the Labour Government whilst sitting as an Independent.

Whilst constituency MPs  can claim to have a personal mandate those elected by the additional members system can't . There is a strong argument that these are party seats and the member should be replaced by some one on the party list.

New Zealanders speak colloquially of waka-jumping when a Member of Parliament (MP) switches political party between elections, taking their parliamentary seat with them and potentially upsetting electoral proportionality in the Parliament of New Zealand.
New Zealand uses a Mixed-member proportional (MMPrepresentation is a mixed electoral system in which voters get two votes: one to decide the representative for their single-seat constituency, and one for a political party. Seats in the legislature are filled firstly by the successful constituency candidates, and secondly, by party candidates based on the percentage of nationwide or region-wide votes that each party received.
The last election saw Labour making significant gains and whilst only denting Nationals vote , were able to form a coalition government.
PartyVotes% of votesSeats
NZ First186,7067.20−1.46099−2
Legalise Cannabis8,0750.31−0.140000

Due to the frequency of Waka jumping, New Zealand enacted the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2001, which had been introduced by Michael Cullen in 1999.The Act expired at the 2005 election as the sunset clause came into effect. It required any MP who had entered Parliament via a party list to resign from Parliament if they left that party's parliamentary caucus.[3However, parties were still able to find ways around this law. When the Alliance split in 2002 over how to respond to the invasion of Afghanistan, Jim Anderton nominally remained the leader of the Alliance within Parliament, while campaigning outside Parliament as the leader of the newly-founded Progressive Party.[4] The resulting uncertainty around the Alliance’s position contributed to then-Prime Minister Helen Clark’s decision to call an early general election in 2002.[ While the law was in force, it was used once to expel a list MP from Parliament (an electorate MP who changed parties could still fight a by-election, as Tariana Turia did[). In December 2003, the ACT Party caucus voted to expel Donna Awatere Huata, an ACT list MP who became an independent after being charged with fraud.] The expulsion became the subject of litigation, and Awatere Huata was not expelled from Parliament until a Supreme Court decision handed down in November 2004.[8] A proposed Bill to replace the Act in 2005 failed.[9]
The new Electoral (Integrity) Act Amendment Bill 2018[10] is currently before the Select Committee.[11] The member in charge is Andrew Little. The Bill is sponsored by the Government as part of the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First The Bill has generated significant media coverage. It is substantively the same as the original 2001 Act (albeit without a sunset clause) and shares the same avowed purpose to "enhance public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system by upholding the proportionality of political party representation in Parliament as determined by electors".
So should we have a waka-jumping law for Welsh Elections , constituency  AM who Waka Jump and claim a personal vote could fight a by-election to prove it.

There is of course strong arguments against a waka-jumping law

Consider an AM who is expelled from a party for exposing major corruption or racism within  his caucus , and is therefore expelled from the Assembly to be replaced by a list member who is caught up in the scandal.
Whatever; I have been looking for a name to label AMs who change allegiances and Waka Jumper is a brilliant one, so it's my task to see this enter into the lexicology of Wesh Poltics.   

1 comment:

Gav said...

totally irrelevant, but Maori friends tell us that waka translates as war canoe, and also motor car.