Visual history of New Zealand parliament

Last year, just prior to the election, Chris McDowall put together a fascinating visual history of the New Zealand Parliament from 1853 to 2017 (prior to the election).

Here is the most recent years, since just before MMP started in 1996:

– excludes 2017 election result

An interesting explanation:

In parliament’s early years, political parties were local organisations rather than national bodies. Until the late 19th century, there were no political parties as we would recognise today. Members formed factions, but arrangements were loose.

The establishment of the Liberal Party in 1891 signalled the start of party politics. Over several decades parties formed, evolved, merged and disappeared. The oppositional conservative factions became the Reform Party. Labour and Social Democrat parties were founded, then merged into the modern Labour Party. The Liberal became the United Party. United formed a governing coalition in 1931 with Reform, before merging into the modern National Party in 1936.

Like today, it was complicated.

Then things stabilised. For over half a century the National and Labour parties dominated the nation’s politics. Social Credit got an MP elected in the late 1960s and another two in the late 1970s. Otherwise it was a two-horse race. This started to change when Jim Anderton split from Labour in 1989, creating NewLabour. In 1993 the Alliance and New Zealand First each got two members elected to parliament.

New Zealand switched from first-past-the-post voting to a mixed-member proportional system in 1996. The political landscape became far more fluid. Eight small political parties gained parliamentary representation alongside the two major players. As the smaller parties got members into parliament, Labour and National could no longer hold enough seats to govern alone. This is an age of coalitions, diverse voices and shifting sands.

A full graphic is at A visual history of the New Zealand parliament


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  1. Visual history of New Zealand parliament — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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