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Pressure Groups Under MMP: a Study of Behaviour and Influence

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posted on 2021-11-10, 04:17 authored by Buckle, Samuel Marcus

This thesis examines the impact of MMP on pressure group behaviour and strategies. MMP altered the distribution of public policy decision-making power. As a consequence, it was expected to influence the strategies and behaviours of pressure groups seeking to influence public policy. The thesis finds that most expectations of pressure groups under MMP have been borne out. In particular, pressure groups have developed a wider range of political relationships and access points, have achieved more success through engagement with select committees and have been more willing to lobby and campaign publicly in opposition to Executive policy. In addition, it finds pressure groups have adopted an increasingly flexible and politically independent mentality and it finds there has been a blurring of boundaries between insider and outsider pressure groups. Finally, it concludes that policy influence has become more complex under MMP and created the need for increased pressure group sophistication. Chapter 1 introduces New Zealand's pluralist traditions as well as the history and importance of pressure group activity. It describes the rationale for the adoption of MMP and the relationship between this electoral system and the public policy process - "the rules of the game" - within which pressure groups operate and seek to influence. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the core political theory that underpins pressure group behaviour under different electoral systems - including theories of state structure and of weak and strong legislatures. It outlines the various methods of influence available to pressure groups and reviews the international literature to identify the main themes, strategies and tendencies that might be expected of pressure groups in an MMP environment. These include a drift in emphasis from Ministers and the bureaucracy to Parliament and a broadening of Parliamentary relationships, a stronger focus on select committees, increased media and mobilisation activity, as well as some additional emphasis on quality information and political gamesmanship. These expectations are set out as five hypotheses for examination. Chapter 3 discusses and reviews the extent and nature of structural change to public policy decision-making in New Zealand under MMP - as an important context for the analysis of pressure group behaviour. It finds that MMP has delivered substantial structural change to the distribution of decision-making power, but that this has been highly variable and changed from one term of government to the next. Chapter 4 first describes the methodology used for researching and reviewing pressure group behaviour and strategies under MMP. It sets out a qualitative approach that involved a mixture of expert interviews and public policy case studies. Chapter 5 returns to and examines the five hypotheses set out in Chapter 2 and concludes that most expectations have been met, particularly the development of broader Parliamentary relationships by pressure groups. Chapter 6 sets out those key conclusions and underlying themes beyond examination of the five hypotheses.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Political Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Roberts, Nigel S