Government formation : New Zealand, MMP and minority outcomes (1999)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree NameMaster of Arts
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
In 1996 New Zealand changed its electoral system to a proportional representation system known as Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). The new electoral system affected many areas of New Zealand politics from the number of parties to the type of outcomes. Under MMP, single party majoritarian governments are likely to be replaced by majority coalitions and minority governments. In light of these changes, this thesis focuses on government formation. A theoretical approach is adopted that employs existing government formation literature and builds a theoretical framework applicable to the New Zealand environment. The framework is then used as the basis for a cost/benefit analysis in a hypothetical five party system, where the parties are distributed along a left-right continuum comprising two major parties, one centre third party and two wing third parties. A questionnaire based upon the theoretical framework was presented to 48 MPs, representing 40% of parliament's membership. This high rate of contact with the target group not only assured an isomorphism between theoretical suggestion and political reality, but also provided a valuable insight into the opinions of New Zealand's decision makers. More specifically the questionnaire's results indicate the central importance of the following three variables for government formation: (a) the effect of ministerial direction on policy influence maximisation; (b) the possibility of inter-caucus alliances within a coalition; and (c), the effect of Collective Cabinet Responsibility on junior coalition partners. Together with the theoretical framework these three insights provide enough detail to confirm and explicate this thesis research proposition, that the introduction of MMP in New Zealand is likely to result in an increase in the number of single and multi-party minority governments.
KeywordsProportional representation--New Zealand; Coalition governments--New Zealand; Representative government and representation--New Zealand; Political parties--New Zealand
RightsAll Rights Reserved
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