Glossary of terms.
- Absolute Majority
More than half (i.e. 50 percent + 1). See also simple majority.
- Balance seats
The seats used to ‘balance’ the number of members in the legislature when an overhang occurs (see below). In some countries, balance seats are used to maintain the proportionality between parties established by an election result. This increases the size of the legislature as the party with the overhang seats keeps the additional seats and other parties represented in the Parliament receive extra seats to ‘balance’ the numbers to ensure overall proportionality.
- Ballot Box
The box at a polling place into which a ballot paper or voting paper is inserted after being completed by a voter; the ballot box is sealed before voting commences, and is not normally opened until the start of the count.
- Ballot paper
A paper on which voters mark their choice at a general election or by-election.
A person who is a New Zealand citizen who is enrolled as an elector and who has been nominated with his or her consent for election to Parliament as a dual candidate, an electorate candidate, or a list candidate.
A majority government or a minority government made up of two or more parties.
- Compensatory seats
This is another name for list seats in an MMP system. Because the purpose of these seats is to compensate parties for the disproportionate results that can occur in an election, they are sometimes called 'compensatory seats'.
- Dual candidacy
In New Zealand a person can be a candidate for an electorate seat and be on a party list. This is called dual candidacy.
- Electoral System
The general name for all the rules concerning elections, i.e. the voting system, boundaries, registration of electors, candidacy, campaign spending, broadcasting, etc.
- Electoral tolerance
As a principle every electorate should have nearly the same total population. Where this cannot be achieved, electorates can differ in size from each other by plus or minus 5%. This is called a ‘tolerance’ and means an electorate can have a population total that is up to 5% more or 5% less than the average electorate size.
A geographic area defined and named by the Representation Commission to elect an electorate MP. There are two types of electorate, General and Mäori.
- Electorate MP
A Member of Parliament elected to represent a General or Mäori electorate by winning a simple majority of Electorate Votes in that electorate.
- Electorate Vote
The vote each voter has under MMP for a candidate to be the electorate MP for the General electorate or the Mäori electorate for which the voter is enrolled.
- General Election
An election of all electorate and list Members of Parliament following the dissolution or expiry of Parliament.
- General Electorate
A geographic area defined and named by the Representation Commission which elects one electorate MP through the Electorate Votes of those on the General roll in that area.
The political party, or group of political parties, represented in the House that the Governor-General has approved to lead the country and that has the confidence of the House. The word 'Government' is also used more narrowly to mean the executive.
- Independent MP
An MP elected to Parliament independent of any party.
- List MP
An MP elected to Parliament from a party list.
More than half (i.e. 50 percent + 1).
- Majority Government
A government made up of one or more political parties that together have an absolute majority of MPs in the House of Representatives.
- Maori Electorate
A geographic area defined and named by the Representation Commission which elects one electorate MP through the Electorate Votes of those on the Mäori roll in that area.
- Member of Parliament
A person elected to Parliament (abbreviated to ‘MP’); under MMP each MP is elected either as an electorate MP or as a list MP.
- Minority Government
A government made up of one or more parties which together do not have an absolute majority of all the seats in the House of Representatives, and which therefore rely on the support of other parties outside the government or Independent MPs on votes of confidence and in order to pass legislation.
- Mixed member proportional voting system
The voting system used in New Zealand is a mixed member proportional system because the Parliament is made up of a mix of members — those elected from electorates and those from a party list and because it is proportional.
- Overhang Seats
The name sometimes given to electorate seats won by a registered political party in excess of the total number of seats to which it would be entitled based on its share of the effective Party Votes.
Strictly speaking, the legislative body in New Zealand comprising the House of Representatives and the Sovereign or the Governor-General as the Sovereign’s representative, although the term is commonly used to refer to the House of Representatives alone.
- Party List
A list of the names of list candidates nominated by a registered political party, in the order the party wants those candidates to be elected to Parliament.
- Party Vote
The vote each voter has under MMP for a registered political party.
- Political party
In general, a group of persons organised to acquire and exercise political influence through the election of members of the party to the House of Representatives.
- Polling Day
The day specified in the writ on which a general election, by-election, poll or referendum is held; also used to refer to election day.
- Proportional Voting System
A voting system in which a political party’s share of all the seats in Parliament is close to its share of the popular vote; there are many different types of proportional voting systems, and many variations within each type.
- Proportional representation
When a political party’s share of all the seats in Parliament is close to its share of the popular vote.
A vote by enrolled electors on some constitutional or public policy issue which may be held in conjunction with a general election or at some other time. Referendums may be advisory, indicative or binding.
- Representation Commission
The Representation Commission is an independent body that determines the boundaries and names of the General Electorates and the Māori Elecotrates after each five-yearly population census and the Māori electoral option.
- Royal Commission on the Electoral System
In 1985 a Royal Commission was established to inquire into a wide range of issues relating to the electoral system. Its report (Towards a Better Democracy) was completed in December 1986 and recommended the adoption of the German-style mixed member proportional representation (MMP) system that is the voting system used in New Zealand.
- Simple Majority
More votes or seats than any other person or party, but less than an absolute majority.
- Single-Party Government
A majority or minority government made up of only one political party. See also coalition government.
The requirement under MMP that, in order to qualify for a proportional share of all the seats in Parliament based on its share of the Party Votes, a political party that is on the Party Vote must either win at least 5 percent of all the Party Votes, or win at least one electorate seat under its own name or under the name of a component party.
- Voting System
A method of translating the votes of the people into seats in the legislature.
- Wasted votes
Votes that are not used to elect either an electorate candidate or party are generally described as ‘wasted’ votes. This usually happens when a party fails to reach the five percent threshold or win an electorate seat, or when an electorate candidate does not win the electorate seat they stand for.