New Zealand is a monarchy based on parliamentary democracy. The basic system of the government is closely patterned on that of the Westminster System of U.K.
The chief of state is Queen of New Zealand. The official business in New Zealand is conducted in the name of the ‘Queen of New Zealand’, not the ‘Queen of the United Kingdom’. The monarch is hereditary. All the functions of the monarchy are conducted by a Governor-General, appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed Prime Minister by the Governor-General to serve a three year term. Prime Minister is the head of the government and holds the executive powers which include implementation of the law and running the day-to-day affairs of the country. The cabinet called Executive Council is appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
The legislature in New Zealand is unicameral. It consists of a House of Representatives commonly called as Parliament having 120 seats with its members elected through ‘mixed member proportional’ voting system under which each member is either elected by voters in a single-member constituency or appointed from party lists. All members serve three-year terms. Prime Minister can ask the Governor-General to dissolve the Parliament but the latter can reject the advice if he wishes so. The people of New Zealand have considerable political rights.
Judiciary is independent in New Zealand. The main source of the law is the constitution which is composed of a series of legal documents, including certain acts of the UK and New Zealand Parliaments, as well as The Constitution Act of 1986. The legal system is based on English law, having special land legislation and land courts for the country’s Maori population. New Zealand accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction but with reservations. English and Maori are the two judicial languages used in the country.
New Zealand is ruled by law. Foreign nationals can expect an impartial trial from the country’s judicial system. New Zealand is one of the least corrupt nations in the world.
Major political parties
New Zealand has a multi-party system. Generally two largest parties form a coalition government without the support of other groups. The two largest, and oldest in the country are: NZLP (New Zealand Labour Party) – a centre-left progressive part, and NP (National Party) – a centre-right conservative party. Some of the other major political parties are:
- NZFP (New Zealand First Party) - a populist nationalist part,
- ACT New Zealand – a free market liberal party,
- Green Party – a left-wing environmentalist party,
- Maori Party - a Maori ethnic party,
- Progressive Party – a somewhat left-wing party.
Major political leaders
Queen of New Zealand: ELIZABETH II (since February 1952) – hereditary
Governor-General: Anand Satyanand. (since August 2006) – appointed by Queen
Prime Minister: Helen CLARK (since December 1999, re-elected 3rd time in September 2005) – NZLP, heading a coalition government with the Progressive Party
Next political election dates
Parliamentary: November 2008