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 proportionality-included election.

 

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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