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New Zealand’s Electoral System




New Zealand applies the MMP, Mixed Member Proportional, electoral system since 1996. It consists of two ballots, one for an electorate MP and the other for a party. Parties get a share of the 120 seats in parliament that is close to their share of all party votes.  At the same time, each part of the country has a local representative in the form of an electorate MP. 


The Maori Option: New Zealand’s particularity:


Every five years, a census is held and followed shortly afterwards by the Maori Electoral Option. That option was installed in 1975.It allows the Maoris, New Zealand citizens from non-European origins, to choose between being listed on the general electoral rolls or the Maoris ones.

Over half of Maori electors are currently on the Maori roll


Consequences of the Maoris Option: Electorate Determination:


Once the Maoris Option is held and the Maori rolls total is known, the country is divided up into roughly same-electors-number Maori and general electorates by applying the following proceadures.


First, the Maori electoral population is calculated by taking the ratio of the number of people registered on the Maori electoral rolls compared to the total number of people on all the electoral rolls (general and Maori).


Second, the law says there must be 16 general electorates in the South Island, and then the math's done to ensure that every North Island or Maori electorate have approximately the same population as the 16 South Island general ones.


Third, the number of electorate seats resulting from that calculus is taken away from the 120 seats available in parliament to give the number of list seats to be filled.


That implies that the number of Maoris and general seats is variable depending on the population changes and the Maoris roll’s choice.

Currently, the Parliament is made up of 120 MPs – 62 from general electorates, 7 from Maori electorates, and 51 called List MPs who who do not represent a specific electorate.


Getting a Parliament Seat for Political Parties:


List MPs are selected from a ranked list of candidates nominated by a registered party before the election.

There are two ways that a party can qualify to have seats in Parliament allocated on the basis of its party vote:  Either it wins 5% or more of all the party votes, or it wins one or more electorate seats. This “threshold” system is mainly beneficial for small parties.

For example, if a party gets 15% of the party vote, but only two electorate seats, then the rest of its 15% share of seats is “topped up” with list MPs. The seats are allocated in order, down the list, excluding any candidates who won electorate seats.





The Maori Option was opted in order to ban the political injustice that New Zealand’s indigenous suffered from for decades. Mainly, it was also installed as temporary positive discrimination  in order to gradually reinsert Maoris in the general rolls.Nighnteen years later, the MMP system was introduced for a wider insertion.

So far, the results aren’t coinciding the expectations since Maoris rolls and electorate

kept on gradually increasing.







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