The Effects of Proportional Representation on Election Lawmaking in Aotearoa New Zealand
It is widely recognized that most politicians are self-interested and desire election rules beneficial to their reelection. Although partisanship in electoral system reform is well-understood, the factors that encourage or constrain partisan manipulation of the other democratic “rules of the game”—including election administration, franchise laws, campaign finance, boundary drawing, and electoral governance—has received little scholarly attention to date. Aotearoa New Zealand remains the only established democracy to switch from a non-proportional to a proportional electoral system and thus presents a natural experiment to test the effects of electoral system change on the politics of election lawmaking. Using a longitudinal comparative case study analysis, this thesis examines partisan and demobilizing election reforms passed between 1970 and 1993 under first-past-the-post and between 1997 and 2018 under mixed-member proportional representation (MMP). Although partisan election reforms have not diminished under MMP, demobilizing reforms have become less common. Regression analysis uncovers evidence that partisan election lawmaking is more likely when the effective number of parties in parliament is lower, when non-voters have more leverage, and when reforms are pursued that diminish electoral participation.
Advisor: Hayward, Janine; Geddis, Andrew
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Politics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; Electoral politics; MMP; Partisanship; Proportional Representation; Party politics; Participation; Electoral reform; Election law; Electoral system
Research Type: Thesis