LAWS 213 Public Law Essay
The general idea of the operation of New Zealand’s government can be illustrated in a few simple words: the Queen reigns… but the government rules… so long as it has the support of the House of Representatives. This is Sir Kenneth Keith’s formulation which explains the relationships between the Head of State, the Government and the House of Representatives in New Zealand. Even though the general principle of this formulation has not changed much over the past few decades, some specific powers that actors within these institutions can exercise have evolved. This essay will discuss the impact that the mixed member proportional (MMP) voting system has on the Governor-General and examine whether or not the relationships between the House of Representatives, Cabinet, Ministers and the Public Service have changed since the MMP’s introduction. This essay will conclude that MMP has conferred more power for the Governor-General to exercise independent discretion and that the relationships between the roles mentioned have changed.
General elections in New Zealand were once held under the first-past-the-post (FPP) voting system. FPP was a bi-polar system. The House of Representatives was made up of mainly two major parties. A single-party majority government was always formed, thus other parties did not have much of a say under FPP. Since New Zealand adopted MMP in 1996, the formation of government has changed.
MMP has made it almost impossible for a single party to form a government. Under the current system, it is possible, but unlikely, for a single party to earn the majority of the votes or the majority of seats in Parliament. Therefore, political parties negotiate with one another to form a coalition government.
The power and responsibilities of a Governor-General comes from the Letters Patent 1983. The Sovereign in right of New Zealand is the Head of State and the Governor-General acts as...