Government Politics of New Zealand

Last elections: September 2014

Next elections: 2017

Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by governor-general, Lt-Gen Sir Jerry Mateparae (2011–)

Head of government: Prime Minister Bill English

Ruling party: National Party

In the general election of November 1999 the Labour Party, led by Helen Clark, won 49 seats and its coalition partner Alliance ten. The National Party, led by Jenny Shipley, took 39 seats and its ally, the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers of New Zealand (ACT New Zealand), nine. With the support of the Green Party (seven seats), Labour was able to command a majority in the 120-member House of Representatives and Helen Clark became prime minister.

In the July 2002 general election, Labour (52 seats) and its coalition partner – Progressive Coalition Party (two) – were unable to command a parliamentary majority without the support of smaller parties. These now included United Future (eight) and the Greens (nine). The National Party secured 27 seats and ACT New Zealand nine, while its former coalition partner, New Zealand First, strengthened its position to 13.

The September 2005 general election was very close, but when all the votes were counted, the ruling Labour–Progressive coalition (Labour 50 seats, Progressive one) was returned for a third successive term and Helen Clark continued as prime minister, still able to command a majority in parliament only with support from New Zealand First (seven) and United Future Party (three). The National Party won 48 seats on a platform of tax cuts, cuts in state aid to Maori communities and closer ties with theUSA.

The National Party – under the leadership of John Key – won the November 2008 election with 59 seats and 45.5% of votes, and like previous governments would only be able to command a majority in the House with support from minority parties. Turnout was 79% and Labour took 43 seats (33.8% of votes), Green Party eight, ACT New Zealand five, the Maori Party five, Jim Anderton’s Progressive one, United Future one and New Zealand First none.

In the November 2011 election the National Party increased its share of votes to 47.3%, though with 59 seats still short of an absolute majority in parliament. Labour took 34 seats (27.5%), the Green Party 14 (11.1%), New Zealand First eight (6.6%) and the Maori Party three. ACT New Zealand, Mana and United Future each won one seat. With the support of ACT and United Future, John Key was sworn in as prime minister for a second time. In December 2011 the National Party formed a coalition government with ACT New Zealand, United Future and the Maori Party.

The National Party won the election held on 20 September 2014, with 47.0 per cent of the vote and 60 seats, just short of an outright majority. The Labour Party received 25.1 per cent of the vote (32 seats); the Green Party 10.7 per cent (14); and New Zealand First 8.7 per cent (11). The Maori Party, ACT and United Future each won an ‘electorate’ seat. But United Future’s party vote did not entitle it to any seats, so its electorate seat was an ‘overhang’ seat, bringing the total number of members in the new Parliament to 121. John Key reached ‘confidence and supply’ agreements with the three smaller parties and formed a new government.

Prime Minister John Key announced his intention to resign from his position in office and as leader of the National Party on 5th December 2016.  He was succeeded by Bill English, the Deputy Prime Minister.