THE SYSTEM WE USE IN NEW ZEALAND
Up until 1996 New Zealand had a “first-past-the-post” system for every electorate. This made it difficult for minor parties to be successful. In the interests of fairness to the smaller parties, this was changed by referendum of the NZ people to the present Mixed Member Proportional Representation system (MMP). Under MMP, everyone gets two votes – one for their candidate in their electorate and the other for the political party they prefer. 65 seats are picked by electoral voting – one for every electorate in NZ – and 48 seats through the party vote, resulting in seats that have no connection to any specific place in New Zealand. There are also seven Maori electorates, making a total of 120 seats in all.
MMP would have been a fairer system than first-past-the-post with small parties having a chance at getting parliamentary representation, but a rule that many consider unfair was made at the outset that a party could only qualify if they got above 5% of the votes cast. This makes it very difficult for new parties to succeed.
Those who drafted the changes probably knew what they were doing and wished to make it hard for anything new to be accepted. And voters who choose something different from the giants, National and Labour, tend to go towards parties that have become just slightly different from the main ones – the Greens can be considered to be but a more extreme version of leftist Labour and ACT is slightly to the right of National (which has anyway moved way over to the left in recent years). One of our “policy pillars” is to make changes to the way voting is done, also lowering the number of MPs, but in the meantime, this is what we have, and it is important that every voter knows how to express their wishes with both the votes that they are given.
We believe it is important to unite with other parties who think similarly to us. For that reason, Rock The Vote NZ has joined the Freedoms NZ umbrella party www.freedomsnz.org.nz, under which a group of minor parties have agreed to cooperate, including Vision NZ, Outdoors & Freedom Party, Yes Aotearoa and Rock The Vote NZ, with more to be announced as other parties and groups realise that only by working together can we really make a difference in this election.
HOW TO VOTE STRATEGICALLY
Some people will vote without considering whether their party or candidate has a chance of victory or not. They are free to go ahead and do this, but others who wish to vote strategically will pay attention to what is likely to happen to the two very separate votes, party vote and electorate vote. These two kinds of votes bring different factors into play.
When you vote for your electorate, it is just like the old first-past-the-post system. If your candidate gets 10,000 votes and another gets 11,000 votes, your candidate will not qualify for Parliament as the representative of that electorate – there is no second place!
However, they may qualify under the party vote. This depends on how many votes their party gets throughout the whole country in that second vote and where your candidate stands in the rank of the list of candidates that their party has put forward. If you are following the fortunes of one candidate in particular, you need to be aware of this.
You do NOT have to vote for the same person’s party in your second vote. For example, you may like a certain candidate in your electorate but not care particularly for his or her party. With your party vote you can choose the party you like best, regardless of who you voted for in your electorate.
UMBRELLA PARTIES: Rock The Vote NZ will stand a candidate for Auckland Central (and likely other electorates), however, the party will not be shown in the Party List on the voting papers. Instead, your party vote should go to Freedoms NZ.
If there is no Rock The Vote NZ candidate listed in your electorate, look for the candidate who belongs to one of the other component parties under the Freedoms NZ umbrella party and vote for this individual. He or she will be from a party which shares common values and policies with us.
As you prepare to vote in the upcoming 2023 New Zealand General Election, this resource will help you vote for candidates and parties that share your values.
Video: Explaining the "wasted vote"?