The Government has asked the Panel to find out what New Zealanders think about particular electoral matters. Here you will find some background information about these electoral matters and the questions to guide you in making a submission.
New Zealand’s Parliament
New Zealand usually has at least 120 members of Parliament (MP's), currently there are 121 MP's. It’s made up of 63 general electorate members, 7 Māori electorate members and 51 list members.
Parliament has a number of key roles:
- To represent the people.
- To provide the Government (Executive) from among its members.
- To make new laws and update old laws.
Parliament also holds the government to accounts for its policies and actions, including examining and approving government taxes and spending.
New Zealand’s voting system
New Zealanders voted to introduce MMP in a binding referendum in 1993 and confirmed it as our voting system in a referendum in 2011. This means that voters have two votes: one for an electorate member of Parliament (MP) for a political party. The share of seats a political party wins in Parliament is about the same as its share of the party vote.
The number of electorates is determined by ensuring that all electorates have more or less the same number of people in them. The number of people in each electorate is calculated by dividing the South Island population by 16. Some electorates cover a larger geographic area than others.
The number of electorates and their boundaries are reviewed every five years after the Census and the Māori Electoral Option. They are adjusted to reflect any population changes. Changes in population growth mean the number of electorates will continue to increase and the number of list seats will decrease.
Term of Parliament and the date of the election
Parliament can run no longer than three years after an election. A General Election must be held once the term has ended. The Prime Minister decides when the term of Parliament ends and the date of the next General Election.
Electoral integrity legislation
After the first MMP election a number of list and electorate MPs left their parties but remained as members of Parliament. This is often referred to as waka-jumping or party-hopping.
In response the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2001 (the Act) was enacted. The Act enabled the Speaker to declare a seat vacant if an MP parted ways with their party or their party leader reasonably considered the member had distorted the proportionality of representation in Parliament.
The Act expired in 2005.
These are the questions we would like your feedback on:
How many members of Parliament should we have?
How long should the term of Parliament be?
How should the election date be decided?
What factors should be taken into account when the size and number of electorates are decided?
What should happen if a member of Parliament parts ways with the party from which he or she was elected?