Electoral Change, Inertia and Campaigns in New Zealand : The First Modern FPP Campaign in 1987 and the First MMP Campaign in 1996

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Abstract

Electoral change creates important and competing incentives for political parties, parliamentary elites and candidates to transform their campaign techniques in order to maximize votes under the new realities - a process constrained by continued reliance on familiar techniques. In this article I examine two significant moments of electoral change in New Zealand - from partisan stability to dealignment in the late 1980s, and from an SMP/plurality system to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) representation in 1996 - as a way of exploring inertia and change in the transformation of campaigns at the constituency level. Drawing on findings from in-depth interviews conducted with individuals responsible for the parties' campaigns in the 1987 and 1996 New Zealand general elections, I explore the extent to which political campaign elites, parliamentarians and candidates responded to incentives to adopt a fundamentally new election campaign logic - in these two cases, dictated by the new tactical centrality of marginal seats and geographically defined constituencies in the modern first-past-the-post (FPP) campaign, and then by the ascendancy in their place of the party list vote, issue constituencies and nationwide campaigns under MMP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-618
JournalParty Politics
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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