New Zealand general election, 2014
The election will elect 120 members to the New Zealand House of Representatives, with 71 from single-member electorates (an increase from 70 in 2011) and the remainder from party lists. 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.
Following the 2011 election, the centre-right National Party, led by John Key, formed a minority government and continued the Fifth National Government for a second term. The main opponent is the Labour Party, led by David Cunliffe, with the Green Party, co-led by Russel Norman and Metiria Turei, increasingly becoming another major opponent.
|This section is outdated. (July 2013)|
A referendum on the voting system was held in conjunction with the 2011 election, with 57.8% of voters voting to keep the existing Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system. The majority vote automatically triggered under the Electoral Referendum Act 2010 an independent review of the workings of the system by the Electoral Commission.
The Commission released a consultation paper in February 2012 calling for public submissions on ways to improve the MMP system, with the focus put on six areas: basis of eligibility for list seats (thresholds), by-election candidates, dual candidacy, order of candidates on party lists, overhang, and proportion of electorate seats to list seats. The Commission released its proposal paper for consultation in August 2012, before publishing its final report on 29 October 2012. In the report, the Commission recommended the following:
- Reducing the party vote threshold from 5 percent to 4 percent. If the 4 percent threshold is introduced, it should be reviewed after three general elections.
- Abolishing the one electorate seat threshold – a party must cross the party vote threshold to gain list seats.
- Abolishing the provision of overhang seats for parties not reaching the threshold – the extra electorates would be made up at the expense of list seats to retain 120 MPs
- Retaining the status quo for by-election candidacy and dual candidacy.
- Retaining the status quo with closed party lists, but increasing scrutiny in selection of list candidates to ensure parties comply with their own party rules.
- Parliament should give consideration to fixing the ratio between electorate seats and list seats at 60:40 (72:48 in a 120-seat parliament)
It is up to Parliament whether to implement any changes to the system, which had been used largely unchanged since it was introduced in 1994. As of December 2012[update], the Government has not signalled whether it would implement any changes, however private member's bill under the name of opposition Labour Party member Iain Lees-Galloway to implement the first two recommendations has been entered into the member's bill ballot.
50th Parliament (2011 – present)
Following the 2011 general election, the National Party entered into confidence and supply agreements with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future to continue the Fifth National Government. These arrangements give the National-led government a majority of seven seats, with 64 on confidence-and-supply in the 121-seat Parliament.
At the 2011 election, the National Party gained 59 seats, the Labour Party 34 seats, the Green Party 14 seats, New Zealand First eight seats, Māori three seats, and Mana, ACT, and United Future gained one seat each. As of January 2013[update], two changes to the allocation have occurred. In 2012, Brendan Horan was expelled from the NZ First caucus, meaning he now sits as an Independent and NZ First now only has seven caucus MPs. On 31 May 2013, the Electoral Commission de-registered United Future after it could not prove it had the 500 financial members required for registration. The party successfully re-registered on 13 August 2013, but in the interim its sole MP, Peter Dunne, sat in the house as an independent.
The following by-elections occurred during the term of the 50th Parliament.
|Electorate and by-election||Date||Incumbent||Cause||Winner|
|Ikaroa-Rāwhiti||2013||29 June||Parekura Horomia||Death||Meka Whaitiri|
|Christchurch East||2013||30 November||Lianne Dalziel||Resignation||Poto Williams|
|This section is outdated. (March 2014)|
Unless an early election is called or the election date is set to circumvent holding a by-election, a general election is held every three years. The last election was held on Saturday, 26 November 2011.
In 1950, the legal requirement to hold elections on a Saturday was introduced, and this first applied to the 1951 election. Beginning with the 1957 election, a convention was formed to hold general elections on the last Saturday of November. This convention was upset by Robert Muldoon calling a snap election in 1984. It took until the 1999 election to get back towards the convention, only for Helen Clark to call an early election in 2002. By the 2011 election, the conventional 'last Saturday of November' was achieved again. If the convention was followed at this general election, it would have been held on 29 November 2014.
The table below shows election dates starting with the first election that was held on a Saturday in 1951:
|Election held on last Saturday of November|
|30th||1 September 1951||Snap election due to waterfront strike|
|31st||13 November 1954|
|32nd||30 November 1957|
|33rd||26 November 1960|
|34th||30 November 1963|
|35th||26 November 1966|
|36th||29 November 1969|
|37th||25 November 1972|
|38th||29 November 1975|
|39th||25 November 1978|
|40th||28 November 1981|
|41st||14 July 1984||Muldoon's snap election|
|42nd||15 August 1987|
|43rd||27 October 1990|
|44th||6 November 1993|
|45th||12 October 1996||Called early to circumvent a by-election in Hawkes Bay|
|46th||27 November 1999|
|47th||27 July 2002||Clark's snap election|
|48th||17 September 2005|
|49th||8 November 2008|
|50th||26 November 2011|
The Governor General must issue writs for an election within seven days of the expiration or dissolution of the current Parliament. Under section 17 of the Constitution Act 1986, Parliament expires three years "from the day fixed for the return of the writs issued for the last preceding general election of members of the House of Representatives, and no longer." The writs for the 2011 election were returnable on Thursday 15 December 2011, but the return was delayed until Saturday 17 December 2011 due to a judicial recount of the Waitakere votes not being completed in time. As a result, the 50th Parliament will expire, if not dissolved earlier, on Wednesday 17 December 2014. Consequently, the last day for issuance of writs of election is Wednesday 24 December 2014. Except in some circumstances (such a recount or the death/incapacitation of an electorate candidate), the writs must be returned within 50 days of their issuance, which will be Thursday 12 February 2015. Because polling day must be a Saturday and two weeks is generally required for the counting of special votes, the last possible date for the next general election is Saturday 24 January 2015.
The Electoral Act stipulates that "polling day shall not be earlier than the 20th day after nomination day nor later than the 27th day after nomination day." This would place nomination day into the period of Sunday 28 December 2014 to Sunday 4 January 2015. This is New Zealand's key holiday season, and with the fact that Auckland Anniversary Day falls on Monday 26 January 2015, resulting in a long weekend for half the country's population, this all but precludes the 24 January 2015 election date. The last realistic date for a general election, taking the two-week period for the counting of special votes into account, is thus Saturday 6 December 2014.
In October 2013, Prime Minister John Key hinted that the election would be held before November. The election date is further compounded by Australia inviting New Zealand to attend the G-20 summit in Brisbane on 15 and 16 November 2014, with the possibility that some leaders will make a flying visit to New Zealand. Ideally, diplomatic visits and engagements should be avoided during the election period, as they can distract politicians from campaigning and can be seen by voters as an attempt to influence the election result.
Given the 20 September election date, other key dates relating to the election will typically be the following:
|10 March 2014 (Monday)||Prime Minister John Key announces election to be held on 20 September|
|13 August 2014 (Wednesday)||Last sitting day for the 50th Parliament|
|14 August 2014 (Thursday)||Governor General dissolves the 50th Parliament|
|20 August 2014 (Wednesday)||Writ Day - Governor General issues formal direction to the Electoral Commission to hold the election.
Electoral roll closes for printing (all people enrolling after this date must cast special declaration votes).
|27 August 2014 (Wednesday)||Details of candidates for election and polling places released.|
|3 September 2014 (Wednesday)||Advance and overseas voting begins.|
|19 September 2014 (Friday)||Advance voting ends. Overseas voting ends 4:00pm local time.|
|20 September 2014 (Saturday)||Election Day - polling places open 9:00am to 7:00pm. Preliminary results released progressively after 7:00pm.|
|4 October 2014 (Saturday)||Official results released|
|9 October 2014 (Thursday)||Writ for election returned; official declaration of elected members (subject to judicial recounts)|
Following the March 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings and the 2013 Maori electoral option, the electorate boundaries are in the process of being redrawn. The South Island must have 16 general electorates, with the number of North Island general and Maori electorates being the respective population in each group divided by one-sixteenth of the South Island general electorate population, within a tolerance of five percent. At the 2011 election, there were 47 North Island general electorates and seven Māori electorates, totalling 70 electorates across the country.
In October 2013, Statistics New Zealand announced that there would be one additional North Island general electorate, bringing the total number of North Island general electorates to 48 and the overall number of electorates to 71. Boundaries are likely to change markedly around Auckland, where three electorates (Auckland Central, Helensville and Hunua) are at least 14 percent above quota, and around Christchurch, where population changes following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake has seen the Christchurch East electorate drop to 23 percent below quota while the urban fringe electorate of Selwyn has grown to 14 percent above quota.
The Representation Commission, which is tasked with redrawing the electorate boundaries, released the proposed boundaries on 21 November 2013. The largest changes are planned to occur in northern and western Auckland. Two new electorates - Upper Harbour and Kelston - will be created, while the existing Waitakere electorate will be dissolved. Upper Harbour is based around the Upper Harbour Bridge, stretching from Wairau Valley to Massey, and is likely to be a safe National seat. Kelston is based around the western Auckland suburb of the same name, stretching from Oratia to Waterview, and is likely to be a safe Labour seat.
In Christchurch, the under-quota Christchurch East and Christchurch Central electorate have taken population from Waimakariri in the north and Port Hills from the south. Port Hills and the Christchurch urban parts of Waimakariri are predominantly Labour-leaning, meaning Christchurch East is likely to stay a safe Labour seat, while marginal Christchurch Central (National's Nicky Wagner won it by just 47 votes in 2011) is likely to swing in Labour's favour. The loss of Labour-leaning urban parts of Waimakariri is likely to make it a safer seat for National, who won the electorate by 642 votes in 2011. Labour-leaning Port Hills has taken the suburb of Halswell and entire Banks Peninsula from over-quota and National-leaning Selwyn, and is likely to swing in National's favour.
After public consultation, the final boundaries are due to be confirmed on 17 April 2014. In the unlikely event a general election is called before the new boundaries are confirmed, then the existing 2008/2011 boundaries will be used.
So far the following Members of Parliament have indicated they will not be standing for election to the 51st New Zealand Parliament:
|Name||Party||Electorate (list if blank)||Term in office|
|Ross Robertson||Labour||Manukau East||1987–|
|Shane Ardern||National||Taranaki-King Country||1998–|
|Kate Wilkinson ||National||Waimakariri||2005–|
|Eric Roy ||National||Invercargill||1993-2002; 2005–|
|John Hayes ||National||Wairarapa||2005–|
|Tony Ryall ||National||Bay of Plenty||1990–|
|Cam Calder ||National||2009–|
|Colin King ||National||Kaikoura||2005–|
|Tariana Turia||Maori Party||Te Tai Hauāuru||1996–|
|Pita Sharples||Maori Party||Tāmaki Makaurau||2005–|
|John Banks||Act Party||Epsom||1981–1999; 2011–|
Resignations of List MPs
The following List MPs have already resigned from Parliament:
- Lockwood Smith (National, List) resigned in January 2013 and was replaced by Aaron Gilmore
- Charles Chauvel (Labour, List) resigned in March 2013, and was replaced by Carol Beaumont
- Aaron Gilmore (National, List) resigned in May 2013 and was replaced by Claudette Hauiti
- Jackie Blue (National, List) resigned in May 2013 and was replaced by Paul Foster-Bell
- Katrina Shanks (National, List) resigned in December 2013 and was replaced by Joanne Hayes
Contesting parties and candidates
Political parties registered with the Electoral Commission on Writ Day can contest the general election as a party, allowing it to submit a party list to contend the party vote, and have a party election expenses limit in addition to individual candidate limits. As of 29 January 2014[update], thirteen political parties are registered and have the ability to contend the general election.
- Note: Those leaders marked with an asterisk are retiring before the next general election.
|Party||Leader(s)||Party vote %
(as of August 2013[update])
|Parties with seats in the 50th Parliament|
|ACT||John Banks *||1.07||1|
|Green||Russel Norman / Metiria Turei||11.06||14|
|Māori||Te Ururoa Flavell / Tariana Turia *||1.43||3|
|NZ First||Winston Peters||6.59||7|
|United Future||Peter Dunne||0.60||1|
|Other registered parties without seats in the 50th Parliament|
|Alliance||Kevin Campbell / Kay Murray||0.05||–|
|Democrats||Stephnie de Ruyter||0.08||–|
|Focus||Ken Rintoul||[nb 1]||–|
|Legalise Cannabis||Julian Crawford||0.52||–|
Opinion polls have been undertaken periodically since the 2011 election by Fairfax Media (Fairfax Media Ipsos), MediaWorks New Zealand (3 News Reid Research), The New Zealand Herald (Herald Digipoll), Roy Morgan Research, and Television New Zealand (One News Colmar Brunton). The graph on the right shows the collated results of all five polls for parties that polled above the 5% electoral threshold at the 2011 election.
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