The 2011 New Zealand general election is Saturday, November 26. The results determine membership of the 50th New Zealand Parliament.
“One hundred and twenty MPs are elected to the New Zealand House of Representatives, 70 from single-member electorates throughout the country and 50 from party lists.
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) Voting System
Since 1996 New Zealand has used the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system, giving voters two votes: one for a political party and the other for their local electorate MP. A referendum on the voting method will be held at the same time as the election. After the 2008 election, John Key’s National Party formed a minority government. It held a plurality with 58 of the 122 seats in the house and had confidence and supply support from the other political parties.
“The House of Representatives normally consists of 120 members of Parliament (MPs), though sometimes more due to overhang seats. There are 71 MPs elected directly in electorate seats, and the remainder are filled by list MPs based on each party‘s share of the total party vote. Māori were represented in Parliament from 1867, and in 1893 women gained the vote.”
The major opposition Labour Party led by Phil Goff is the main challenger to the National Party and Prime Minister John Key.
“On September 27, 2010, Justice Minister Simon Power announced the government was introducing legislation making the November 2011 election the first where voters are able to re-enroll completely online. Previous online enrolments required printing, signing, and posting the election form.”
Other New Zealand Parties
The Green Party focuses first on environmentalism, arguing that all other aspects of humanity will stop being a concern if there is no environment to sustain us. The Green Party has both a male and female leaders and is now co-led by MP Metiria Turei and Russel Norman.
ACT (Association of Consumers and Taxpayers) is a free market classical liberal political party led by former National Party leader and Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash. ACT has five members of the New Zealand Parliament. The party stands for “individual freedom, personal responsibility, doing the best for the natural environment, and smaller, smarter government.”
United Future Party
United Future Party has a single member of the New Zealand Parliament. The party leader is Peter Dunne, an electorate MP. The United Future party signed a confidence and supply agreement with the National Party, making it, along with th ACT and Maori Parties, a support partner to the minority National government.
The Māori Party formed July 7, 2004 and has eight constitutional “kaupapa”, or Party goals. “Every area in New Zealand is covered by both a general and a Māori electorate.”
Tariana Turia, affiliated with all the Whanganui region’s main tribes, established the Māori Party after resigning from the Labour Party where she had been a Cabinet Minister in the Fifth Labour-led Government. She and Pita Sharples, a high-profile academic, became co-leaders of the Party. After the 2008 election, the Party supported John Key and the National-led government, and Turia and Sharples became ministers outside of the cabinet.
Reports show that the National Party is looking “unstoppable” with a significant lead over the Labour Party, their only major opposition. The Green Party hopes to gain 7 new seats in Parliament.
New Zealand First Party
First is the “third largest political party in the New Zealand Parliament”. Formed in 1993, it represents those New Zealanders concerned about the social and economic direction of their country, and seeking pragmatic, common-sense representation in Parliament. Winston Peters is the leader of the First Party.
The Mana Party “did not receive taxpayer-funded television airtime during the 2011 general-election campaign,” because it was “formed after the 17 March deadline for funding applications.”. “Mana ran seven candidates in Māori electorates and 14 in General seats, for a total of 21 on their list.”