Consensus Gained, Consensus Maintained? Changing New Zealand's Electoral Law 1927-2007
In the eighty years between the passage of New Zealand's first unified Electoral Act in 1927, and the passage of the Electoral Finance Act 2007, the New Zealand Parliament passed 66 acts that altered or amended New Zealand's electoral law. One central assumption of theories of electoral change is that those in power only change electoral rules strategically, in order to protect their self-interest.1 This thesis is an investigation into the way New Zealand governments effect and have effected their desired changes to the electoral law through the legislative process, and the roles self-interest and the active search for consensus between political parties have played in that process. It argues that, while self-interest serves as a compelling explanation for a great deal of electoral law change in New Zealand, altruistic motivations and the development of parliamentary processes influenced behaviour to an equal, and perhaps even greater, extent.