Voting in a New Zealand local election : the Christchurch City Council election of 1974.
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis aims to investigate a series of problems of electoral behaviour that were first studied using the socialpsychological approach to political science. These problems are voter turnout, the surge and decline of electoral participation, the role of party, personal voting, ticket-splitting and coattail voting. They are particularly relevant to the study of New Zealand local elections mainly because local elections provide the only opportunity
for the New Zealand voter to vote for the party leader and the other members of his ticket. It is argued that these problems can be explained using both social-psychological theories and rational choice theories based on the economic approach to political science. The problems are examined using data collected at the 1974 Christchurch City Council election. A survey research project was carried out in the North ward of Christchurch City just prior to the 1974 election, and a post-election analysis of the master roll of electors was carried out for West and Pegasus wards. The findings reveal that voter turnout was quite closely related to psychological variables but less so to sociological and political variables. The variations in voter turnout and the partisan division of the vote in the 1968, 1971 and 1974 Christchurch City Council elections are explained with reference to psychological variables and economic variables. Party identification is shown to be a major influence on voting behaviour. There are strong relationships between voting in a local election and voting in a parliamentary election. Personal voting and coattail voting in the 1974 election are investigated, and some explanations for straight and split ticket voting are suggested. In conclusion the thesis argues that social-psychological and rational choice theories can together provide explanations for electoral behaviour.