Politics in New Zealand
Like many former British colonies, New Zealand's politics is loosely based on British politics. It is a parliamentary democracy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. The Queen lives in the UK and she rarely makes the trip to NZ, so has a guy acting on her behalf. He is known as the Governor-General (Sir Anand Satyanand is currently Governor-General) and he can do a number of things, all in the ‘Queens name’. If he wanted, Sir Anand Satyanand could dismiss the Prime Minister (John Key) from office, but he won’t.
Kiwi politics used to be simple. Up until 1996 they had two main political parties, the Labour Party and the National Party. They used to fight for power, swapping Government a fair few times. However, this all changed when a new electoral system was introduced.
In 1996 New Zealand introduced the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) to elect Parliament. The new electoral system was introduced to increase representation of smaller parties in Parliament, which worked, because now no party can secure a majority to form a Government, so they HAVE to form a coalition with a smaller party.
There are a 120 seats up for grabs in the House of Representatives, and the National Party have 58, meaning they are in power, with John Key as Prime Minister. Elections are held every three years with the next general election in 2011.