New Zealand changed its two party system to partially
incorporate equal representation in 1996
While New Zealand is not a very populated nation it is worth taking
a closer look for two very specific reasons: it is one of the nations
in the world that came forth out of the British empire, and it is
the only one to have actively changed its two party system to partially
incorporate equal representation.
What happened to female representation?
The quickest distinction between proportional elections and district
elections is the male/female ratio of elected officials. Before
the change to incorporate a system of proportional elections the
national government of New Zealand had a female representation of
21 women being elected, while in the next elections 37 women were
elected. The number of overall seats changed simultaneously from 100 to 120 and
— with this change included — the jump comes down to
a spectacular 9.6% change of seats from male to female with this very first
More on New Zealand's change in representation:
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission reported on New
Zealand and the State
of Women in Urban Local Government that parliamentary elections
"were held under a single member constituency First Past the
Post system [district elections] until 1996 when following widespread
dissatisfaction with the fairness of this electoral system and with
political parties in general, a system of proportional representation
Mixed Member Proportional was introduced. Under this
system voters have two votes, one for an electorate MP and one for
a party. There are 120 seats in New Zealand's parliament. After
the 1999 general election 61 were electorate seats, 6 Maori seats
and 53 party seats."
While this form of elections is not exactly like the more straight
forward system the nations in top of the list of elected female
representatives have, the change from a district system to that
of more proportional representation created a huge jump for New
Zealand on this list of nations. It is indeed shameful that the
United States does not have a more people friendly system, so it
does not have to hover around the world average on female representation.
Do you know where your nation stands in number of female representatives?
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