Electoral Reboot: Global Referenda

Electoral Reboot: Global Referenda

Other countries have also used the referendum when considering electoral reform in recent years:

New Zealand successfully changed its electoral system in 1993 after a two-stage referendum process.

Reacting to a series of lopsided majority governments under the FPTP system, the National party government asked voters in 1992 if they wanted change.

Almost 85 per cent said yes.

Offered four alternatives in the first non-binding referendum (MMP, STV, AV, and supplementary members), 70 per cent of the “change” voters opted for MMP.

After a 14-month consultation process, a second binding referendum was held in November 1993, offering MMP as the only alternative to FPTP.

Fifty-four per cent of voters chose MMP, with 83-per-cent turnout.

After two elections, a third referendum in 2011 asked voters if they wanted to keep the new system, or consider alternatives.

A majority (58 per cent) chose to retain MMP.

New Zealand is now considering recommendations from the Electoral Commission to tweak the MMP system.

James Shaw, co-leader of New Zealand’s Green Party, spoke to CPAC in August about his country’s MMP system:



2011: As part of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition agreement, the British government held a referendum on AV (Alternate Vote), which would replace the longstanding FPTP system.

Almost 68 per cent of voters rejected change, including 430 out of 440 polling districts.

Reform supporters blamed the result on divisions within the Conservative and Labour parties and a campaign of misinformation from AV opponents.



Ireland has held two referenda on electoral reform as required by the constitution. Both asked if voters wanted to change the nation’s STV system to FPTP.

1959: FPTP was rejected by 52 to 48 per cent.

1968: The same question is rejected by a higher margin: 61 to 39 per cent.

-Andrew Thomson