Zealand is a modern parliamentary democracy.
Although its style of government still follows the Westminster
cabinet model, there are important distinctions.
The national government comprises a single legislature, the House
of Representatives, which is elected every three years rather
than the five-year cycle customary in the Westminster system.
In 1993, New Zealand also adopted a new electoral system based on
proportional representation. The traditional Westminster system
requires that all Members of Parliament (MPs) represent a
geographical electorate and are elected solely on the basis of
the vote within that electorate. This is known as the "first
past the post" system and means that to elected, an MP must
obtain the highest number of votes in the electorate. Under New
Zealands MMP system (Mixed Member Proportional), the 120
MPs are elected either as electorate MPs or as list MPs. The
electoral process for electorate MPs follows the Westminster
system. However, the process for electing list MPs is quite
different. List MPs do not contest a particular electorate.
Future List MPs are first selected as candidates by their
political party and then appointed on the basis of their
partys proportion of the national vote.
After an election, the new Government may be formed in several
ways. If one party wins over 50% of the national vote, it can
form a Majority Government. When no single party commands a
majority, the largest party may either form a Minority
Government, with support from parties outside the Government, or
form a Majority Coalition Government, with the support of one or
more parties. The Prime Minister leads the party or coalition
which has majority support in the House of Representative.
Cabinet is the decision-making hub of Government. It is headed by
the Prime Minister, comprises Ministers chosen from the Members
of Parliament and is supported by junior ministers outside of
Queen Elizabeth II remains constitutional head of state but plays
no active part in Government. The public responsibilities of the
Crown are carried out by a New Zealand appointed and politically