New Zealand History/New Zealand Government

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The New Zealand Government at the Turn of the Twenty First CenturyEdit

The New Zealand Parliament House and Beehive Building.

New Zealand, at the turn of the Twenty First Century, was run by the Labour Party, under the leadership of Helen Clark - the electoral system being MMP (Mixed Member Proportional Representation), which was implemented in 1996.

The MMP system allows for two votes on election day: a 'Party Vote' (the vote given to the party the voter wants represented in Parliament), and the 'Electorate Vote' (the vote given to the MP the voter wants to represent their electorate in Parliament). Due to the nature of this system, it is unlikely that a party will be able to govern without the support of minor parties. When parties make an agreement to form a Government it is called a 'coalition'. For example, following the 2005 election, the formal coalition comprised of the Labour Party (the major party, receiving a majority of votes) and the Progressive Party (the minor party), but the New Zealand First and United Future parties also provided confidence and supply to Labour in return for their leaders being Ministers outside of cabinet. The rest of the parties made up the Opposition: after the 2005 election, this was the National Party, the ACT Party and the Maori Party.

In 2008, the National Party received the majority of votes in the election, and it made a coalition agreement with the ACT Party, Maori Party, and United Future, which collectively made up enough seats in Parliament to have an overall majority. Therefore, a National-led coalition became the new Government. This made the Labour Party, Green Party, and the Progressive Party the Opposition.

This table shows how Parliament was made up after the 2005 election. It also gives a background to some of the main parties in New Zealand politics, and who they aim to represent in Parliament.

Party Number of Seats in Parliament (2005-2008) Leader(s)


Description of Party
Labour Party 49 Helen Clark The Labour Party is a socially progressive party, formed in July 1916. After the 2005 election it was the largest party in Parliament (by one seat) and was the New Zealand Government up until the 2008 elections. Its leader, Helen Clark, was the Prime Minister of New Zealand, having been appointed in 1999, and winning the two successive elections.
National Party 48 John Key The National Party is a socially conservative party, formed in May 1936. It was the second largest party in Parliament, and is traditionally Labour's main opponent. In the past it has been strongly supported by farmers.

After a record loss to Labour in the 2002 election, National made a remarkable recovery in the 2005 election under the leadership of Don Brash, only losing the election by 2 percent (one seat).

New Zealand First 7 Winston Peters New Zealand First is a centrist, populist, and nationalist party. New Zealand First took a strong stand on reducing immigration, cutting back on Treaty of Waitangi payments, increasing sentences for crime, and buying back former state assets. The party had a confidence and supply agreement with the Government, resulting in the party's leader, Winston Peters, becoming the Foreign Affairs Minister. After the 2008 election, the party lost all seats in Parliament.
Green Party 6 Jeanette Fitzsimons and Russel Norman The Green Party is New Zealand's major environmentalist party. It promotes views on carbon emissions and other major environmental topics, and typically does reasonably well in elections.
Māori Party 4 Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples The Maori party is based around the Maori population in New Zealand. It was formed in 2004 around Tariana Turia, a former minister of the Labour Party. It promotes Maori rights in Parliament.
United Future 2 Peter Dunne United Future is a 'common sense' party based around family values. Although United Future had a strong Christian background, it does not promote its Christian side any longer. The party had a confidence and supply agreement with the Labour Government, but after the 2008 election switched to being part of the National coalition.
ACT 2 Rodney Hide The ACT Party is a classically liberal party. It promotes lower taxation, reducing government expenditure, and increasing punishments for crime.
Progressive Party 1 Jim Anderton The Progressive Party had one elected MP after the 2005 election, the party's leader, Jim Anderton, and has had a recent focus on employment and regional development. It was part of the coalition with the Labour Government.

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