Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
New Zealand general election 2005
The 2005 New Zealand general election will be nation-wide election for the New Zealand Parliament. It has yet to be scheduled, but under electoral law, the election cannot be held any later than September 24, 2005. The Government presently insists that it will run full term, but rumours of an early poll in late July (to either capitalise on budget initiatives or get re-elected before support dries up) abound.
The 2002 elections saw the governing Labour Party retain office. However, its junior coalition parner, the Alliance, collapsed, leaving Labour to form a coalition with the new Progressive Coalition, formed by former Alliance leader Jim Anderton. The coalition then obtained an agreement of support from United Future, enabling it to command a majority. The National Party, Labour's main opponents, suffered a considerable defeat, winning only 21% of the vote.
The 2002 election result further strengthened the impression that the traditional two-party system had broken down. Beginning with the first election under the MMP electoral system, Labour and National found their traditional dominance gone, and needed to ally themselves with smaller parties. The 2002 election saw the combined strength of the two major parties drop below two thirds of the seats in Parliament.
The collapse of National's vote led to the replacement of leader Bill English with newcomer Don Brash. Brash began an aggressive campaign against the Labour government. A major part of this campaign was his well-known "Orewa speech", in which he attacked the government for giving "special treatment" to the Maori population, particularly over the foreshore and seabed controversy. This resulted in a surge of support for the National Party, although most polls indicate that this has since subsided. National has also announced it will not stand candidates in the Maori seats, with some smaller parties following suit. The foreshore and seabed controversy also resulted in the creation of the new Maori Party, which may or may not play a large role in the 2005 election. It remains to see whether the Maori Party can break Labour's traditional dominance in these seats, as New Zealand First did in the 1996 Election.
United Future have announced that they will contest the 2005 general election in partnership with Outdoor Recreation New Zealand although the two parties will not merge. Outdoor Recreation New Zealand gained 1.28% of the party vote in 2002 and hence fell below the MMP threshold.
The Alliance have announced that they will not contest the party vote in the 2005 general election (reflecting, perhaps, the impossible task of reaching the 5% threshold). Instead they advised their supporters to vote for the Green Party or the Maori Party. The Alliance will contest electorate seats however.
Some observers believe that the 2005 general election will be a return to "two party politics", citing evidence that with National's popularity coming directly from smaller parties. One such smaller party is ACT, which now has its future in doubt should it fail to win a seat in 2005 or get above the 5% threshold.
Overhang seats may be a possibility after the election, leading to more than 120 MPs (for the next term only). If Jim Anderton wins his electorate again, but the Progressive Party get less than the 0.5% that would qualify them for one seat, then Anderton's seat becomes an overhang seat. This has led to some of the party's supporters calling for its voters to give their party vote to another party, such as Labour, reasoning that the party is unlikely to reach the approximately 1.6% needed to qualify for two seats, and that an overhang would increase the strength of a potential coalition. Similarly there may be overhang seats from the Maori Party: for example, if they receive less than 1% of the party vote, entitling them to one seat, but win, for example, three electorate seats, the extra two seats become "overhang" seats. Allocating the remaining 120 seats would be done in the usual proportional way, with a threshold of 5% or one electorate seat applying.
29 March: The New Zealand Herald Political Correspondant John Armstrong speculates on rumours of an early election, which is predictably dismissed by Prime Minister Helen Clark 
Lists of candidates in the 2005 elections are available in these formats:
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