Choosing MMP in New Zealand: Explaining the 1993 Electoral Reform

David Denemark

in Mixed-Member Electoral Systems

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199257683
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600241 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 Choosing MMP in New Zealand: Explaining the 1993 Electoral Reform

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Explores several of the factors that significantly affected the transition of New Zealand's political system from a pluralitarian (extreme majoritarian) system famous for its tranquil efficacy to an MMP (mixed‐member proportional) system renowned for its vengeful reformism. These factors include: (1) dealignment; (2) minor party under‐representation; (3) the under‐representation of minority groups in an era of increasing multiculturalism; (4) radical, unpopular economic reform by successive Labour and National party governments; and (5) the parliamentary ‘other side’ of the calculus—the provision of both a Royal Commission, which highlighted representational failings of the Westminster system while legitimating MMP specifically as an alternative electoral system, and indicative and binding referendums, which gave New Zealand's voters the final say in determining the fate of the country's electoral system. The extent to which these issues were important in vote choices of electors in the 1993 referendum is also considered. A last section considers the overall explanations for New Zealand's turn to MMP, and the chapter includes a table that shows a timeline of electoral change in New Zealand since 1985 (the period immediately preceding the reform of 1993) and an appendix giving a sketch of the MMP system in New Zealand.

Keywords: dealignment; economic reform; electoral change; electoral history; electoral reform; electoral systems; extreme electoral systems; minor parties; minority groups; mixed‐member electoral systems; mixed‐member proportional systems; multiculturalism; New Zealand; pluralitarianism; referendums; under‐representation

Chapter.  11125 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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