Electoral reform in New Zealand

From Academic Kids

Until 1996, New Zealand used the British system of 'first past the post' (FPP) for parliamentary elections . This system favoured the two largest parties, National and Labour. A Royal Commission on the Electoral System, established in 1984, recommended changing to the Mixed Member Proportional electoral system (MMP).

In 1992, a non-binding poll was held on whether or not FPP should be replaced by a new, more proportional voting system. Voters were asked two questions: whether or not to replace FPP with a new voting system; and which system should be adopted instead. A second, binding, referendum was to be held the following year, in which voters would choose between FPP and the new system chosen to replace it. Voters favouring a new system could choose between the following:

  • Supplementary Member system (SM); similar to MMP; but with proportional representation only used for seats filled by lists; and a larger proportion of seats elected by FPP.

The result was in 84.5 per cent favour of replacing FPP, with an overwhelming majority of those favouring a new electoral system voting for MMP. The percentages of the vote cast for the four possible electoral system options offered in the second question were:

    Supplementary Member       5.5%
    Single Transferable Vote  17.5%
    Mixed Member Proportional 70.3%
    Alternative Vote           6.6%

The second, binding, referendum was held at the same time as the 1993 election, and favoured MMP. The first election using MMP was held in 1996. Whereas National and Labour had dominated parliament before, there were now other parties, including the Alliance, New Zealand First, the Green Party, ACT New Zealand, and United Future, on whom they now had to rely for forming a coalition and votes of confidence.

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