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What Happens When Voting Rules Change? The Case of New Zealand

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Abstract

This paper examines the impact of New Zealand’s 1996 adoption of a mixed member proportional (MMP) voting scheme on representation in the legislature, voter turnout, vote volatility and the likelihood of an incumbent party winning re-election. I then consider whether MMP has had any negative consequences for the effectiveness of government policy in relation to fiscal accountability and countercyclical intervention. The data used in the analysis begins from the formation of the party system in New Zealand (in 1890) and extends through the adoption of MMP to the present (2017). The data set covers 42 elections: 34 before 1996 and 8 after.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Stephen Ferris, 2019. "What Happens When Voting Rules Change? The Case of New Zealand," Carleton Economic Papers 19-03, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 29 Mar 2020.
  • Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:19-03
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. J. Stephen Ferris, 2014. "Government Size, Government Debt and Economic Performance with Particular Application to New Zealand," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 90(290), pages 365-381, September.
    2. 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.
    3. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. "Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-446, March.
    4. Sanz, Carlos, 2017. "The Effect of Electoral Systems on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Political Science Research and Methods, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(4), pages 689-710, October.
    5. Allan M. Wilford, 2017. "Polarization, Number of Parties, and Voter Turnout: Explaining Turnout in 26 OECD Countries," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1391-1405, November.
    6. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
    7. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    8. J. Stephen Ferris & Marcel-Cristian Voia, 2015. "Political Parties in Canada: What Determines Their Entry, Exit and the Duration of Their Lives?," Carleton Economic Papers 15-08, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 04 Apr 2016.
    9. Carina Bischoff, 2013. "Electorally unstable by supply or demand?—an examination of the causes of electoral volatility in advanced industrial democracies," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(3), pages 537-561, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Institutional change; Mixed Member Proportional Voting; Vote turnout; Vote volatilities; Winning margins; New Zealand;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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