How are MPs elected?

Your two votes help decide which candidates get the 120 seats in Parliament and become members of Parliament (MPs).

Candidates with the most electorate votes in each voting area become electorate MPs. Candidates on a party list can become list MPs if their party gets at least 5% of the party vote or wins one electorate.

A party's total number of electorate and list MPs will be about the same as its share of the party vote.

Electing an electorate MP

The candidate with the most votes in your electorate becomes your electorate MP. They do not need more than half the votes.

Your electorate MP will represent your local area in Parliament.

Electing parties into Parliament

If a party gets at least 5% of the party vote or wins an electorate, we use the Sainte-Laguë formula to decide how many seats it gets.

Each party gets a share of seats that's close to its share of the party vote. For example, a party with 30% of the party vote gets about 36 seats - 30% of the 120 seats in Parliament.

Who gets a party's seats

A party's seats first go to their candidates that won electorates. Any leftover seats go to candidates from the party list, in the order the party ranks them.

For example, a party wins 30% of the party vote and 20 of their candidates win electorates. Twenty of their 36 seats go to the winning electorate candidates. The other 16 seats go to candidates from its party list.

If a party wins more electorates than its share of the party vote

A party can win more electorates than seats it's entitled to from its share of the party vote. The party keeps the extra seats, creating an overhang. The size of Parliament increases by the number of extra seats until the next general election. An overhang does not affect the number of seats other parties get.

For example, a party with 5% of the party vote would normally get about six seats. If that party also wins seven electorates, it gets seven electorate MPs and no list MPs. The total number of MPs increases to 121.

New Zealand has had three Parliaments with overhangs.

  • From 2005 to 2008, there were 121 MPs
  • From 2008 to 2011, there were 122 MPs
  • From 2011 to 2014, there were 121 MPs