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History series – MMP




In 1993 ideas for changes to our electoral system were gaining support.

At the time, the ‘First Past the Post’ electoral system was in place.

The background for a call to change this possibly goes back to the 1978 general election when Social Credit, a leading third party had won 16 percent of the overall vote but only one seat out of the 92 in Parliament. Three years later nearly 21 percent of electors voted for Social Credit, but the party gained just two seats.

The answer, some people argued, was a system of proportional representation. This meant that each party's share of the seats in Parliament would be closer to its share of the overall vote. A number of systems were put forward and eventually Mixed Member Proportional or MMP for short was selected following a referendum. As the poll for a new system was held alongside a general election, the turnout of 85% was high.  

The referendums result however was much closer than anticipated. MMP was backed by a  margin of 54% to 46% who favoured retaining the existing First Past the Post voting method.

So from 1993 New Zealand would have a new voting system. Arguably one of the most dramatic changes since the introduction of women's suffrage exactly 100 years before.


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