Electoral System Change, Generations, Competitiveness and Turnout in New Zealand, 1963–2005
British Journal of Political Science
Cambridge University Press
New Zealand’s recent elections have been held under a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system, after nearly a century of single-member plurality (SMP) elections. This article addresses the effect on turnout in recent elections of electoral system change, generational differences, and national and district-level competitiveness. Both theory and cross-sectional empirical evidence indicate that turnout should be higher in New Zealand after the change to MMP. Yet, if anything, turnout has continued to decline. Most of this turnout decline, it turns out, is an effect of longer-term trends of declining competition and generational change, lag effects of which persist under MMP. MMP changed the main focus of electoral competition from the district to the national level, with consequent changes in the distribution of turnout. Electoral boundary changes also have effects.
Vol. 40, Issue 4, pp. 875 - 895