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Rodney Hyde, leader of the ACT party is a great guy. When we met at the Mont Pelerin Conference in Christchurch 1989 he may have had some hair on his head and he was just starting to read "Human Action".

You must keep in mind that National are commonly known as "Labour Lite". I don't holdout much hope for any real change. This will not be another post-84 government.


I agree that there is not much to be expected from the future govt, especially since there is no major crisis in NZ at the moment and thus no window of opportunity to introduce deep reforms. Key himself, from what I have read in the media, said that his govt will be centrist (see here for instance:

What may give us hope, however, is the fact that Key cannot rule without ACT (and he also wants to bing United into his govt in order to bolster his majority I assume, or perhaps to limit ACT's bargaining power). This could mean a portfolio for one or two ACT MPs and thus perhaps some good policymaking down the road.

National is also interested in reforming some key areas such as the RMA. They also seem to be more fiscally conservative than Labour, which would help bring spending down. Now, this is where gvts generally fail, so I have little hope on this, but with the help of ACT, curbing public spending may be achieved. If NZ had less public spending, it would be in a different world.

Maybe it depends whether the move to the centre by Keys was strategic (to win the election) or represesents a failure of nerve. At least with the aid of ACT they will never need to get into the kind of horse-trading that the Australian conservative govt had to use to win critical votes from rent-seeking obstructionist who enjoyed the balance of power in the upper house.

It is great that Roger Douglas is there in the ACT ranks, he was the architect of fundamental market-oriented reforms when he was Finance Minister in the Labor administration a couple of decades ago.

This election prompted me to check out recent election results in NZ. I have a question. How is it that the two big parties (National and Labour) voluntarily changed the electoral system (in 1996) to one in which they would no longer dominate? In the 1993 election the two big parties controlled 95 out of 99 seats despite receiving about %70 of the vote combined. After changing the electoral system and giving smaller parties a fighting chance the big parties only got about %50 of the vote in 1996, and about 2/3 of parliament. The smaller NZ First party ended up holding the balance.

Key is also in talks with the Maori Party to be a support partner; if he has them on board along with ACT, ACT can't keep National in line the way they might otherwise have done.


The change to MMP was brought about because in part due to what was seen as something of an unfairness in the First Past the Post system. Both Labour and National could find themselves at odds with it (it was possible to come to power without getting the most votes). If you look at the the voting history you'll find the balance of power and government shifted between them quite often, and there was a growing shift away from them. The Social Credit Party started to garner more and more votes as time passed and was beginning to become a third major party as such (it no longer exists, and hopefully NZ First goes the same way).
I would not be surprised if either the National or Labour parties around that time frame saw it in their best interests,

It wasn't voluntarily as such. The change was put to a referendum. Although the choice of MMP is argured to be somewhat contentious it how it was all put forward.


ap9er has summarised it well. Additionally, there was growing discontent among votors that a third party could attract around 30% of votes, but not gain any representation in parliament. The incoming Labour government in 1984 undertook to look at constitutional reform, but reneged on the promise.

The incoming 1990 National government campaigned on a similar promise, and followed through on it. A Royal Commission (similar to a Congressional Enquiry, I suspect) analysed the options, held public hearings and recommended a mixed-member proportional system. This was put to a referendum and won.

MMP has increased the number of parties in parliament, and the diversity of members of parliament. However, it has also led to some unseemly horse-trading and pork-barrel politics. The newly elected National government talked in general terms during the campaign of revisiting the MMP Vs FPP debate - it remains to be seen whether anything comes of this.

Let me give you just one example of how with National the large print giveth but the small print taketh away. You say, Frederic:

"National is also interested in reforming some key areas such as the RMA..."

In fact, the reforms they propose to the Act (that they themselves introduced) are predominantly intended to free things up not for businesses and property owners but for their own public works programme.

Federated Farmers said of the RMA several years ago that 'Little not Large' was where the main problems lie. National are working on Large, and just ignoring the Little.

In other words, the "reform" is just window dressing.

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