New Zealand ranked 112th in world for 'elector empowerment'

Overall, we were ranked 39th of 198 countries.
Overall, we were ranked 39th of 198 countries. Photo credit: Newshub

New Zealand has been ranked poorly in a new report on electoral freedom - but it's causing controversy over its methodology.

The private pro-market group Foundation for the Advancement of Liberty conducted its "ambitious research project" for its World Electoral Freedom Index 2018 study.

There were good points - we were ranked 4th for Active Suffrage and 8th for Political Development. However it ranked us as 105th in Passive Suffrage, below Botswana, Rwanda and East Timor.

Worse, we were only ranked 112th in Elector Empowerment - below the US, the Congo and Afghanistan.

Overall, we were ranked 39th of 198 countries - behind Colombia and Guatemala.

Why did New Zealand get ranked so badly?


It appears the study authors are criticising New Zealand for the "possible distortion of the election result" due to an over or under-representation of certain constituencies. The authors don't appear to be fans of MMP, and dislike the barriers to entry for new political parties.

Our lack of binding referendums has also come under fire, as has our ability to recall and replace elected MPs.

The report findings have been picked up by the Taxpayers Union, which is calling for electoral reform.

"This result is embarrassing for a country that leads the world in many areas. But under MMP and current electoral laws, it's inevitable," says executive director Jordan Williams.

"We could improve our standing in next year's index by taking the best of overseas electoral systems - perhaps an upper house to keep Parliament in check, recall elections, and a way for citizens to initiate binding referenda."

However the report has been criticised for its methodology.

"The conventional attributes that see NZ get full marks from Freedom House are deliberately marked down: a full score is 10 points vs 30 for the others," Russell Brown wrote on Twitter.

"Likewise, without any real attempt to at justification, conventional representative democracy is considered non-free, while recall elections and referenda attract 'Elector Empowerment' points. The report is quite a strange read."


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