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1993 General Election
Leader:
Jim Bolger

Jim Bolger
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Mike Moore

Mike Moore
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Party:
National
Labour
Leader Since:
1986
1990
Leaders seat:
King Country
Christchurch North
Last election:
67 seats
29 seats
Seats Won:
50
45
Popular vote:
673,892
666,759
Leader:
Jim Anderton portrait

Jim Anderton
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Winston Peters

Winston Peters
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Party:
Alliance
New Zealand First
Leader Since:
1991
1993
Leaders seat:
Sydenham
Tauranga
Last election:
1 seat (as NewLabour)
party not yet founded
Seats Won:
2
2
Popular vote:
350,063
161,481

The 1993 New Zealand general election was held on 6 November 1993 to determine the composition of the 44th New Zealand Parliament. It saw the governing National Party, led by Jim Bolger, win a second term in office, despite a major swing back towards the Labour Party. The new Alliance and New Zealand First parties gained significant shares of the vote, but won few seats. The election was New Zealand's last to date under the non-proportional first past the post electoral system.

BackgroundEdit

Before the election, the National Party governed with 64 seats, while the opposition Labour Party held only 29. The 1990 election had been a major victory for the National Party, with the unpopular Fourth Labour Government being decisively defeated. The Labour Party had become unpopular for its ongoing economic reforms, which were based around liberalisation, privatisation, and the removal of tariffs and subsidies.

The National Party was somewhat divided as to the merits of the reforms, with conservatives generally opposed and neoliberals generally in favour. The party had fought the 1990 election saying that the Labour government's program was too radical, and was being carried out without any thought of the social consequences - Jim Bolger spoke about "the Decent Society", promising a return to a more moderate and balanced platform. Once in government, however, the key Minister of Finance role was taken not by a moderate but by Ruth Richardson, who wished to expand, not end, the economic reforms. Many of the voters who had felt betrayed by Labour's reforms now felt betrayed by the National Party as well, a fact which contributed to the rise of minor parties.

The Alliance, the largest "third party", was a broad coalition of five smaller groups - the NewLabour Party (a Labour splinter), the Democrats (a social credit party), the Greens (an environmentalist party), Mana Motuhake (a Māori party), and the Liberal Party (a National splinter). The Alliance held three seats in Parliament - one belonged to Jim Anderton, who had been re-elected under a NewLabour banner in the seat he had formerly held for Labour, while the other two belonged to the National MPs who formed the Liberal Party. In its first electoral test, the 1992 by-election in Tamaki, the Alliance had performed well, taking second place. Another smaller group was New Zealand First, a party established by former National MP Winston Peters. Peters had broken with his party after a number of policy disputes with its leadership, and resigned from parliament to contest his seat as an independent. After being overwhelmingly re-elected, Peters established the New Zealand First party to promote his views. Peters was the party's sole MP.

Another consequence of dissatisfaction with both major parties was the referendum conducted alongside the 1993 election. The culmination of the larger decade-long New Zealand electoral reform process, the referendum was held following the September 1992 indicative referendum, which saw 85% of voters voting for change from the existing First Past The Post (FPP) system, and 70% choosing the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) as its preferred replacement: a proportional system which would make it easier for smaller parties to win seats. It asked voters to choose whether to keep the existing FPP system or change to MMP, with 53.9% of voters opting to change to MMP.

While National and Labour usually stood candidates in every seat, National was one candidate short as their Southern Maori candidate apparently did not apply in time.

The ElectionEdit

The election was held on 6 November. A total of 2,321,664 people were registered to vote, and 85.2% turned out. This turnout was almost exactly the same as for the previous election, although slightly less than what would be seen for the following one.

Preliminary results based on election night counts saw the country facing its first hung parliament since 1931, with no party gaining the 50 seats required for a majority. The National Party won 49 seats, a drop of 15 from before the election. and Labour had won 46 seats, with the balance of power held with the Alliance and New Zealand First, which won two seats each. This led to Jim Bolger saying on public television, "bugger the pollsters" as he had been led to expect a comfortable National victory by the polls showing that National would win easily.

Official counts saw the seat of Waitiki swing from Labour to National, giving National 50 seats and Labour 45 seats. This meant that National kept its majority by only a single seat.

The 1993-1996 parliamentary term would see a number of defections from both major parties, meaning that National would eventually be forced to make alliances to retain power.

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