11 Nov 2011

Polls suggest support to retain MMP

7:33 pm on 11 November 2011

Two polls out on Friday suggest there is support to retain the Mixed Member Proportional System.

People will vote in a referendum on MMP on election day on 26 November and if more than half choose to keep it, the system will be reviewed.

If MMP is rejected, Parliament will decide whether to hold a further referendum in 2014 to choose between MMP and the most popular alternative system.

The other choices are: First Past the Post, Preferential Voting, Single Transferrable Vote and Supplementary Member.

In a poll commissioned by pro-MMP lobby group Keep MMP, 63% of people surveyed want to retain the voting system in some form, while 27% want to change to another system.

When given a choice between retaining MMP as it is or going back to First Past the Post, 55% said they would keep MMP, while 35% favoured a return to the old system.

Keep MMP spokesperson Sandra Grey says the poll matches the response they have been getting.

"What we're hearing when we go out and talk to people at markets or when we're out on the street talking to people about the referendum has been confirmed by the poll that voters from across the political spectrum want to keep MMP because it is the fairest system, but they just want the chance to actually make it that little bit better."

The poll conducted by market research company UMR sampled 750 people eligible to vote from throughout New Zealand in the last five days of October. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6%.

But in a Herald-DigiPoll, the result is much closer. Some 47.3% of people in that poll wanted to keep MMP, while 41.9% said they wanted change.

A spokesperson for the group Vote for Change, Jordan Williams, says voting for another option will give people more control over the process.

"There will be a review of MMP if New Zealanders vote to keep it but, ultimately, that's up to politicians to determine what would come out of it.

"Just like turkeys don't vote for an early Christmas, politicians won't vote for a more accountable voting system - and we think the review is fundamentally flawed."

The results of the referendum will be released in December this year.