2020 New Zealand general election

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2020 New Zealand general election

← 2017 On or before 21 November 2020

All 120 seats (plus any overhang) in the House of Representatives
61 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Jacinda Ardern, 2018.jpg
Winston Peters, 2019.jpg
Leader Simon Bridges Jacinda Ardern Winston Peters
Party National Labour NZ First
Leader since 27 February 2018 1 August 2017 18 July 1993
(party foundation)
Leader's seat Tauranga Mount Albert List
Last election 56 seats, 44.45% 46 seats, 36.89% 9 seats, 7.20%
Current seats 55 46 9
Seats needed Increase6 Increase15 Increase52

James Shaw and Marama Davidson.png
David Seymour at ACT Selection Announcement for Leader and Epsom.jpg
Leader James Shaw & Marama Davidson David Seymour
Party Green ACT
Leader since 30 May 2015 &
8 April 2018
4 October 2014
Leader's seat List Epsom
Last election 8 seats, 6.27% 1 seat, 0.50%
Current seats 8 1
Seats needed Increase53 Increase60

Incumbent Prime Minister

Jacinda Ardern

The 2020 New Zealand general election will be held after the currently elected 52nd New Zealand Parliament is dissolved or expires. The current Parliament was elected on 23 September 2017. The last possible date for the next general election to be held is 21 November 2020.

Voters will elect 120 members to the House of Representatives under New Zealand's mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting system, a proportional representation system in which 72 members are elected from single-member electorates and 48 members are elected from closed party lists.

After the previous election, the centre-left Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, formed a minority coalition government with the New Zealand First party, with confidence and supply from the Green Party. The main opponent to the Labour–NZ First government is the centre-right National Party, led by Simon Bridges. The ACT Party is the sole other party in Parliament, represented by a single MP.

A referendum on personal cannabis consumption is planned to be held at the same time, along with a referendum on euthanasia held with the End of Life Choice Bill passing its third reading in parliament.[1][2]


The final results of the 2017 election gave National 56 seats, while Labour and the Greens combined had 54 seats. New Zealand First won 9 seats, which put them in the position to give either National or Labour the 61 seats needed form a government. On 19 October 2017, Winston Peters, leader of New Zealand First, announced that he would form a coalition government with Labour.[3] On the same day, James Shaw, leader of the Green Party, announced that his party would give confidence and supply to a Labour–NZ First government.[4] The result of the election saw the Labour Party regain power after nine years in opposition, as well as the end of the Fifth National Government which had been in power for three terms (2008–2017). The 2017 election also saw the first party under MMP in New Zealand to lead a government without commanding the plurality of the party vote.

Current standings[edit]

Party affiliation Seats
2017 election Current
LabourCoa 46 46
NZ FirstCoa 9 9
GreenCS 8 8
Government total 63 63
NationalInd1 56 55
ACT 1 1
IndependentInd1 0 1
Opposition total 57 57
Total 120 120
Working Government majority 6 6
New Zealand House of Representatives - Layout Chart October 16th 2018.png
Current seating plan of Parliament
  • ^Ind1 National MP Jami-Lee Ross was expelled from the party in October 2018 after an alleged leak of party documents and a public spat with party leader Simon Bridges. He has continued to represent his electorate as an independent MP.

Electoral system[edit]

New Zealand uses the mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting system to elect the House of Representatives. Each voter gets two votes, one for a political party (the party vote) and one for a local candidate (the electorate vote). Political parties which meet the threshold (5% of the party vote or one electorate seat) receive seats in the House in proportion to the percentage of the party vote they receive. 72 of the 120 seats are filled by the MPs elected from the electorates, with the winner in each electorate determined by the first past the post method (i.e. most votes wins). The remaining 48 seats are filled by candidates from each party's closed party list. If a party wins more electorates than seats it is entitled to under the party vote, an overhang results; in this case, the House will add extra seats to cover the overhang.

The political party or party bloc with the majority of the seats in the House forms the Government. Since the introduction of MMP in 1996, no party has won enough votes to win an outright majority of seats. As a result, parties must negotiate with other parties to form a coalition government or a minority government.

Electorate boundaries[edit]

Electorate boundaries for the next election are set to be redrawn due to the 2018 census, so this general election will be the first to use boundaries based on the 2018 census.

The number of South Island general electorates is fixed at 16,[5] with the number of North Island general electorates and Māori electorates increasing or decreasing in proportion. Each electorate must have the same population, with a tolerance of plus or minus five percent. For the 2014 and 2017 elections, there were 48 North Island general electorates and seven Māori electorates, giving a total of 71 electorates.

On 23 September 2019, Statistics New Zealand announced that there would be one additional North Island general electorate,[6] bringing the total number of North Island general electorates to 49 and the overall number of electorates to 72.[7] It also announced that 11 North Island, three South Island, and two Māori electorates were above tolerance, while five South Island electorates and one Māori electorate were below tolerance.[8]

The provisional electoral changes proposed by the Electoral Commission in November (which will not be finalised until April; with changes, probably minor) seem to help National; e.g. with boundary changes Port Hills (held by retiring Labour MP Ruth Dyson) will be renamed to the old name of Banks Peninsula); it will gain some 6500 mainly Centre-Right votes from Selwyn and Banks Peninsula and lose more than 2000 mainly Labour voters to Christchurch East. Proposed boundary changes to Dunedin South also favour National, although in Nelson National MP Nick Smith will lose support. The new Auckland electorate (expected to be called Flat Bush)[9] is likely to support National. The party representatives on the Commission are Rick Barker (Labour) and Roger Sowry (National).[10]

Election date[edit]

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 most recent election was held on 23 September 2017.

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 2017 election were returned on 12 October 2017. As a result, the 52nd Parliament must dissolve no later than 12 October 2020. Consequently, the last day for issuance of writs of election is 19 October 2020. The writs must be returned within 50 days of their issuance (save for any judicial recount or death of a candidate), which will be 7 December 2020.[11] Because polling day must be on a Saturday,[11] and two weeks is generally required for the counting of special votes, the last possible date for the next general election is 21 November 2020.

The previous two general elections (2014 and 2017) were both held on the second-to-last Saturday in September. If this trend were to continue, the next election would be held on 19 September 2020.

Potential parties and candidates[edit]

Political parties registered with the Electoral Commission can contest the general election as a party. To register, parties must have at least 500 financial members, an auditor, and an appropriate party name.[12] A registered party may submit a party list to contest the party vote, and can have a party campaign expenses limit in addition to limits on individual candidates' campaigns. Unregistered parties and independents can contest the electorate vote only.

Since the 2017 general election, three parties have formally been de-registered. On 14 November 2017, United Future leader Damian Light announced that his party would be dissolved, and thus not contest any future elections.[13] The Ban 1080 Party was deregistered on 28 February 2018 at the party's request.[14] The Internet Party was deregistered on 12 June 2018 because its membership had dropped below the 500 required for registration.[15]

The Opportunities Party announced on 9 July 2018 that the party was to be deregistered following its board's decision to not contest any future elections.[16] The decision was reverted on 20 August 2018 reportedly due to an influx of supporters asking the party to continue.[17]

As of 4 December 2019, the following parties are registered to contest the general election:[18]

Party Leader(s) Founded Ideology 2017 election
Party vote Seats
National Simon Bridges 1936 Liberal conservatism 44.45% 56
Labour Jacinda Ardern 1916 Social democracy 36.89% 46
NZ First Winston Peters 1993 Conservatism, nationalism, populism 7.20% 9
Green James Shaw / Marama Davidson 1990 Green politics 6.27% 8
ACT David Seymour 1994 Classical liberalism, right-libertarianism 0.50% 1
Opportunities Geoff Simmons 2016 Radical centrism, environmentalism 2.44%
Māori Te Ururoa Flavell / Marama Fox 2004 Māori rights 1.18%
Legalise Cannabis Jeff Lye 1996 Cannabis legalisation 0.31%
New Conservative Leighton Baker 2011 Conservatism, fiscal conservatism, social conservatism 0.24%
Mana Hone Harawira 2011 Tino rangatiratanga, Māori rights 0.14%
Outdoors Sue Grey / Alan Simmons 2015 Environmentalism 0.06%
Social Credit Chris Leitch 1953 Social credit, economic democracy, left-wing nationalism 0.03%
Sustainable NZ Vernon Tava 2019 Environmentalism, centrism
Vision New Zealand Hannah Tamaki 2019 Christian values

MPs not standing for re-election[edit]

Name Party Electorate/List Term in office Date announced
David Carter National List 1994–present 17 October 2018[19]
Ruth Dyson Labour Port Hills 1993–present 3 March 2019[20]
Amy Adams National Selwyn 2008–present 25 June 2019[21][22]
Alastair Scott National Wairarapa 2014–present
Nathan Guy National Otaki 2005–present 30 July 2019[23]
Clare Curran Labour Dunedin South 2008–present 27 August 2019[24]
Maggie Barry National North Shore 2011–present 5 November 2019[25]
Gareth Hughes Green List 2010–present 17 November 2019[26]

List-only MPs[edit]


Expense limits and broadcasting allocations[edit]

During the three-month regulated period prior to election day, parties and candidates have limits on how much they may spend on election campaigning. It is illegal in New Zealand to campaign on election day itself.[29]

The limits on electoral expenses are updated on every year to reflect inflation. For the 2019/20 year, every registered party contending the party vote is permitted to spend $1,169,000 plus $27,500 per electorate candidate on election campaigning during the regulated period, excluding radio and television campaigning (broadcasting funding is allocated separately). A party contesting all 72 electorates is therefore permitted to spend $3,149,000 on election campaigning.[30] All electorate candidates are permitted to spend $27,500 each on campaigning over and above their party's allocation.[31]

Registered parties are allocated a separate broadcasting budget for radio and television campaigning. Only money from the broadcasting allocation can be used to purchase airtime; the actual production costs of advertisements can come from the general election expenses budget. The Electoral Commission sets the amount of broadcasting funds each party gets; generally the allocation is based on the number of seats in the current Parliament, previous election results, and support in opinion polls.

Third party promoters, such as trade unions and lobby groups, can campaign during the regulated period. The maximum expense limit for the 2019/20 year is $330,000 for those promoters registered with the Electoral Commission,[32] and $13,200 for unregistered promoters.[33]

Opinion polls[edit]

Various organisations have commissioned opinion polling for the next general election. Two main polling organisations are currently regularly sampling the electorates' opinions: Reid Research (on behalf of MediaWorks New Zealand) and Colmar Brunton (on behalf of Television New Zealand). Roy Morgan Research released their last opinion poll in November 2017.

Graphical summary of polls recently conducted for the next New Zealand general election.

Seat projections[edit]

The use of mixed-member proportional representation allows ready conversion of a party's support into a party vote percentage and therefore a number of seats in Parliament. Projections generally assume no changes to electorate seats each party holds (ACT retains Epsom, Labour retains Waiariki, etc.) unless there is a specific reason to assume change. For example, after Peter Dunne announced his retirement, projections no longer assumed United Future would retain Ōhāriu. Other parties that do not pass the 5% threshold are assumed to not to win an electorate and therefore gain no seats.

Radio New Zealand takes a "poll of polls" average to produce their forecast. The New Zealand Herald bases theirs on a predictive model incorporating poll data as well as past election results and past poll accuracy.[34] Newshub and 1 News and produce projections based on their own polls only.

When determining the scenarios for the overall result, the minimum parties necessary to form majority governments are listed (provided parties have indicated openness to working together). Actual governments formed may include other parties beyond the minimum required for a majority. This happened after the 2014 election, when National only needed one seat from another party to reach a 61-seat majority, but they formed a 64-seat government with Māori, ACT and United Future.

Party 2017 election result Roy Morgan[35]
30 Oct – 12 Nov 2017 poll
Radio NZ[36]
5 Jun 2018 poll of polls
Newshub Reid Research[37]
2–9 Oct 2019 poll
1 News Colmar Brunton[38]
5–9 Oct 2019 poll
Stuff YouGov[39]
7–11 Nov 2019 poll
National 56 51 57 56 60 47
Labour 46 49 54 54 50 51
NZ First 9 6 0 0 0 10
Green 8 13 8 8 9 10
ACT 1 1 1 2 1 2
Seats in Parliament 120 120 120 120 120 120
Possible government formation(s) National–NZ First (65) Labour–Green (62) Labour–Green (62) Labour–Green (62) National–ACT (61) Labour–Green (61)
Labour–Green–NZ First (63)
Note: Forecasted seats are currently calculated using the Electoral Commission's MMP seat allocation calculator, based on polling results.


  1. ^ "Euthanasia bill to go to referendum after knife-edge vote in Parliament". New Zealand Herald. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  2. ^ Henry Cooke (13 November 2019). "MPs vote in favour of End of Life Choice Bill at final reading". Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  3. ^ Chapman, Grant (19 October 2017). "Full video: NZ First leader Winston Peters announces next Government". Newshub. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  4. ^ Hurley, Emma (19 October 2017). "An 'historic moment' for the Green Party – James Shaw". Newshub. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  5. ^ Electoral Act 1993, section 35(3)(a).
  6. ^ "Gain of one new seat in 2020 election". stuff.co.nz. 23 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Census 2018: Changing population sees creation of new North Island electorate seat". RNZ. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Number of electorates and electoral populations: 2018 Census | Stats NZ". www.stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  9. ^ "New South Auckland electorate named Flat Bush proposed". stuff.co.nz. 20 November 2019.
  10. ^ Turf War sets up 2020 battlegrounds: Talking Politics: Gordon Campbell in "The Hutt News", November 26, 2019 p2
  11. ^ a b "Electoral Act 1993, Sec. 139". Legislation.co.nz. 17 August 2011. Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  12. ^ Electoral Act 1993, section 63.
  13. ^ "UnitedFuture proud of it's [sic] history, but all good things must end". Damian Light. Archived from the original on 14 November 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  14. ^ https://www.elections.org.nz/news-media/amendments-register-political-parties-28-february-2018
  15. ^ "Cancellation Of Party Registration". New Zealand Electoral Commission.
  16. ^ "Gareth Morgan's The Opportunities Party is over". Stuff. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  17. ^ "The Opportunities Party decides it isn't riding off into the sunset". Stuff. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Register of Political Parties". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Chris Finlayson and David Carter to leave Parliament by next election". 17 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson to stand down at next election". 3 March 2019.
  21. ^ "National MP Amy Adams to retire from politics at 2020 election". 25 June 2019.
  22. ^ "National MP Alastair Scott to stand down in 2020". 25 June 2019.
  23. ^ "National's Ōtaki MP Nathan Guy to retire at next election". Radio New Zealand. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  24. ^ "Clare Curran to leave Parliament at 2020 election". 27 August 2019.
  25. ^ "National MP Maggie Barry announces retirement at 2020 election". 5 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Green Party MP Gareth Hughes retiring, won't seek re-election". 17 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Paula Bennett to run National Party election campaign". Radio New Zealand. 14 August 2019.
  28. ^ "Anne Tolley to go list only in 2020, citing ambitions to be Speaker". Stuff. 20 December 2019.
  29. ^ Section 197, Electoral Act 1993.
  30. ^ Electoral Act 1993, section 206(c).
  31. ^ Electoral Act 1993, section 205(c).
  32. ^ Electoral Act 1993, see took 206(v).
  33. ^ Electoral Act 1993, section 204(b).
  34. ^ Harkanwal Singh (28 August 2017). "Herald election forecasts explained". The New Zealand Herald.
  35. ^ "New PM Jacinda Ardern drives surge in New Zealand Government Confidence". Roy Morgan. 22 November 2017.
  36. ^ Colin James (5 June 2018). "No Budget lift for Labour in polls but support for PM still strong". RNZ.
  37. ^ Tova O'Brien (12 October 2019). "Poll: Jacinda Ardern, Labour take massive tumble in new Newshub-Reid Research poll". Newshub.
  38. ^ Jessica Mutch McKay (14 October 2019). "National and ACT have numbers to form a government in latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll".
  39. ^ Henry Cooke (25 November 2019). "Labour ahead while National dips below 40 in new Stuff poll".