About the 1996 NZES
Funding for the 1996 NZES was provided for by Foundation
for Research, Science, and Technology (FRST), the Waikato
School of Social Sciences Research Committee and the University of
Waikato, University of Auckland Research Committees and Lottery Science.
If you want to understand the 1996 election read Voters' Victory?
Click on the cover image for further information
The 1996 Election
New Zealand's first election under proportional representation was
held on October 12, 1996. National received the most votes with 33.8
percent of the party vote but failed to win a majority of the seats necessary to govern alone
(having received 44 out of 120). Labour followed with 28.2 percent of
the party vote (37 seats), New Zealand First with 13.3 percent of the
party vote (17 seats), Alliance with 10.1 percent of the part vote (13
seats), ACT with 6.1 percent of the party vote (8 seats) and United
with .09 percent of the party vote (1 seat). Following the election,
National entered into a coalition government with New Zealand First.
To see how the votes were geographically distributed see the spatial
patterns in the votes.
The 1996 Study
One of the primary objectives of the 1996 NZES is to monitor the
democratic process during New Zealand's transition from a plurality
electoral system to a proportional (MMP) system. The programme is
designed through the second MMP election, probably occurring in 1999. These
surveys generate a wide array of information on the attitudes, opinions, and
behaviours of both electors and candidates.
The 1996 study incorporated a common module of questions designed by
participants in the Comparative
Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) project at two meetings in Berlin
in 1994 and Budapest in 1995. This is now part of the Module 1 Release which was administed in over 30 countries.
The 1996 study included both a pre and post election survey of electors
as well as a survey of candidates. Respondents in the pre election
survey were selected by random digit dialing from a national sampling frame of
telephone numbers. Respondents in the post election survey were
randomly selected from the 1996 electoral roll and sent a self completion
questionnaire. Further details of the study are described below.
Respondents to the post election survey
were randomly selected from the 1996 electoral roll and sent a self completion
questionnaire. Initially, 1650 questionnaires were mailed. Of
those, 863 were returned and another 180 were completed by phone; the total sample
size is 1043. The response rate is 63 percent.
One thousand persons randomly selected from the
Maori rolls were mailed self-administered questionnaires, 424 were
returned and another 81 completed a phone interview. The response rate for
persons on the Maori rolls was 51 per cent. The remainder of Maori electorate
respondents were part of the panel or first interviewed by phone during the
campaign. A total sample size of 614 was secured for persons in the Maori
Each elector survey includes a panel of
respondents carried through from the previous study, making it possible to track
patterns of individual-level change. The 1996 survey includes the final wave of
a panel of respondents who participated in the 1993 and 1990 NZES. Of
the 1110 participants in the 1990-93 panel study, 768 were carried though
to the 1996 wave of the panel (31 per cent attrition rate) while 548 of
the 1993 participants were carried through to the 1996 study (47 per cent
attrition rate). Therefore, a total of 1306 respondents participated in
both the 1993 and 1996 studies (1174 by post, 132 by phone).
The Campaign Wave
A pre-election survey was conducted over
the course of the campaign to track short-term changes in voting behaviour.
The rolling cross section was conducted 5 September through 11 October,
during which time approximately 120 computer-assisted telephone
interviews per day were conducted with randomly selected New Zealanders of voting
age, bringing the total sample size to 4448, of which 3090 were seven
minute interviews and 1357 were three minute interviews. The response rate was
around 50%, on the assumption that numbers called 20 times or more with
no reply were non-residential.
Questions asked include the most important issue likely to affect
voting choice; the party closest t the respondent on that issue; the most
preferred Prime Minister; perceptions of change in the economy over the last
year; party identification; the relative importance of the party and
electorate votes under MMP; party vote choice; electorate vote choice; coalition
preferences; expectations about party votes and the parties that might form the
Respondents who completed the seven minute interview were asked to
supply names and addresses so that they could be sent a postal questionnaire
after the election. Of these 3090 persons, 2326 supplied a name and address;
1649 were returned and another 215 completed a post election phone
survey, contributing to a total sample size of 1862; a response rate of 60 per
The Candidate Survey
The candidate survey provides data on
the career paths of politicians and aspects of their working conditions
enabling a comparison between the attitudes and behaviour of voters and
political elites. A similar survey was sent to party candidates and conference
delegates in 1993. The survey was administered by Peter
Aimer, from the University of Auckland.
In 1996, candidates nominated by the ACT, Alliance, Christian
Coalition, Labour, National, New Zealand First, and United parties were sent a
24-page questionnaire, with questions arranged under the following
sub-headings: Political Background and Activity; Candidate Selection and Campaigning;
The Role of an MP; Opinions and Policies:The Economy; Other Issues and
Values; Electoral, Parliamentary and Constitutional Issues; Background
Questionnaires were sent to a total of 487 candidates. The overall
response rate was 65 per cent, or 316 usable questionnaires, distributed among
the parties as follows (party response rates in brackets): ACT 55 (81%),
Alliance 49 (65%), Christian Coalition 51 (65%), Labour 64 (69%), National 46
New Zealand First 36 (56%), United 15 (56%).
The overall response rate for the sub-set of elected MPs was 60 per
cent. The questionnaire contained a total of 67 questions. As many of
were multi-part questions, the resulting dataset contains 230 separate
variables, that is, separate items of information to which all or most
of the 316 respondents replied.