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Electoral System Change, Generations, Competitiveness and Turnout in New Zealand, 1963–2005


  • Vowles, Jack


In 1996, New Zealand changed its electoral system from single-member plurality (SMP) to a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system. This article addresses the effects on turnout of electoral system change, generational differences and national and district-level competitiveness. Both theory and cross-sectional empirical evidence indicate that turnout should be higher after the change to MMP. Yet turnout has declined. Most of this turns out to be an effect of lag effects generated by longer-term trends of declining competition, and generational experiences. MMP has shifted the main focus of electoral competition from the district to the national level, with consequent changes in turnout distribution. Electoral boundary changes also have negative effects under MMP, and most MMP elections have taken place after an electoral redistribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Vowles, Jack, 2010. "Electoral System Change, Generations, Competitiveness and Turnout in New Zealand, 1963–2005," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(4), pages 875-895, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:bjposi:v:40:y:2010:i:04:p:875-895_99

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    Cited by:

    1. J. Stephen Ferris, 2020. "What happens when voting rules change? the case of New Zealand," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 267-291, September.
    2. Stephen J. Ferris & Marcel-Cristian Voia, 2020. "What aggregate data can tell us about voter turnout in Canada; did changes in the distribution of income matter?," Carleton Economic Papers 20-18, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
    3. John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim, 2018. "Home Ownership and Political Participation: Longitudinal Evidence Suggests There is No Causal Relationship," Working Papers in Economics 18/02, University of Waikato.
    4. John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim & Steven Stillman & Geua Boe-Gibson, 2013. "Time to vote?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(3), pages 517-536, September.
    5. Michael P. Cameron & Patrick Barrett & Bob Stewardson, 2013. "Can Social Media Predict Election Results? Evidence from New Zealand," Working Papers in Economics 13/08, University of Waikato.

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