New Zealand History 2000

By | December 1, 2021

Since the Second World War, the political system of NZ (a member state of the Commonwealth) has been characterized by a substantial alternation between the two main parties: the National Party (NP) and the Labor Party (LP). The stability of the political framework was accompanied by a certain economic prosperity, even if during the Eighties the negative consequences of the world energy crisis and the inconveniences deriving from the progressive inclusion of Great Britain, NZ’s main commercial partner, in the EEC were evident (increase unemployment, trend in consumer price increases and persistent inflation). Also for this reason, in the international field, NZ increased relations with the countries of the Pacific region and in particular with Australia, which has become its main commercial partner, while, on the domestic level, both the Labor governments (led by D. Lange since 1984 and by G. Palmer from 1989) and conservative ones (in 1990(after six years of opposition, the National Party regained the office of prime minister with its leader J. Bolger) faced the economic crisis by adopting a liberal policy and proceeding with the privatization of important public enterprises.¬†For New Zealand government and politics, please check

In the general elections of November 1993, the National Party suffered a sharp decline, but still managed to maintain a sufficient number of consensus to form a new executive.

The National Party won the 35, 2 % of the vote and 50 of the 99 seats that composed the House of Representatives (in 1990 it stood at 47, 8 % of the vote and had won 67 deputies), while Labor ensued on 34, 7 % of the votes and 45 seats. Due to the single-member majority system in one turn, Alliance obtained only two seats and two seats also went to the New Zealand First, a party born in 1993 on the initiative of a member of the National Party. Simultaneously with the political consultations, a referendum was held aimed precisely at modifying the electoral law: 54 % of voters expressed themselves in favor of adopting a correct proportional system, similar to the German one, thus confirming the results of the consultative referendum of 1992..

Despite having a very small majority, at the end of the month Bolger again took up the post of prime minister. The stability of the government, however, remained precarious until June 1995, when the birth of the centrist formation United New Zealand (to which both Labor and Conservative deputies joined) allowed the premier to initiate an enlargement of the majority, culminating, in February 1996, in the formation of the first coalition government in New Zealand history. While diplomatic relations with France improved, which entered a crisis in 1995 following the French decision to resume the nuclear test program in the South Pacific, the internal situation remained uncertain due to the defections of individual deputies from their respective parliamentary groups. It was in these conditions that the political elections of October 1996 took place, the first to take place with the new electoral law.

The National Party won the 34, 1 % of the vote and won 44 seats in the House of Representatives (added up to 120 members), while traditional opponents of the Labor Party they amounted to 28, 3 % of the vote, equal to 37 deputies. The nationalists of the New Zealand First got 17 seats and the Alliance 13, while the Maori with 15 deputies, got a representation more corresponding to their percentage of the total population.

In December 1996, a coalition government was formed, still led by Bolger, comprising members of the National Party and the New Zealand First. In a sharp decline in popularity, in November 1997 Bolger was forced to leave the leadership of the party to J. Shipley, and in the following December the latter also assumed the position of prime minister. The government had a difficult life, marked by internal strife, culminating in the New Zealand First’s exit from the coalition in August 1998. A new cabinet, set up in the same month and always chaired by Shipley, gained the confidence of parliament thanks to the favorable vote of 8 deputies of the New National First. The political elections, held in November 1999, recorded the victory of Labor, which rose from 37 to 49 seats, the defeat of the National Party, which obtained only 39 seats, and of the New National First, which fell to 5 deputies. Alliance, on the other hand, without the Greens who left the coalition in 1997 and presented themselves with moderate success (7 seats), obtained the election of 10 representatives. In December, a coalition government was formed comprising members of the Alliance and Labor, whose leader, H. Clark, assumed the post of prime minister.

New Zealand History 2000