Government systems have existed for thousands of years and are the most powerful factor in maintaining state stability. Power and how it is distributed is a feature shared by all governance systems. The concept of “power” frequently evokes the notions of intimidation and force. An individual must have authority over something or someone to have power. Power is defined as the “ability to influence decisions and is separated into influence and authority”. With influence comes the threat of consequences, which is used in such a way that people follow the advice of influential people because of their auctoritas, or earned reputation in all aspects of their lives.
Politicians are the most common people seeking power. They use power for decision making (conscious acts that impact the substance of decisions), agenda setting (the ability to prevent decision making by setting or controlling the political agenda) and mind control (the ability to influence others by shaping what they think, want or need). In democratic regimes, elections are the greatest representation of the sovereignty of the people. The voting public votes and chooses who will represent the people in the legislature on certain dates, on regular terms, as defined by law, using different ways; alternatively, by direct elections.
In the modern era, New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy, with Parliament making the laws of the land that limit individual power and power-seeking motives. New Zealand has a single chamber in Parliament, the House of Representatives, which has 120 members, called MPs. Citizens and permanent residents over the age of 18 are required to register to vote, although voting is not compulsory.
Elections are held every three years under the MMP system, in which residents vote twice, once for a constituency candidate and once for a party. MMP is a proportional system in which the total number of seats a party receives in parliament is primarily determined by the party’s vote in elections. To establish governments, coalitions or agreements between political parties are frequently necessary, which limits individual power. In short, the MMP system constrains those in power, who must share their authority with other MPs while taking public preferences into account.
In modern democracies like New Zealand, people exercise power through moderation in the actions of MPs and government officials. In this sense, people do not need to participate in politics for their desires and wishes to be fulfilled, but such passivity is only effective if their representatives fully understand people’s needs and aspirations. Single-member constituencies are used to fill some of the seats. The party list method is used to fill the remaining seats. This form of election has a number of disadvantages for those in power who seek it. Maintaining single-member seats prevents high levels of proportionality from being achieved.
The system generates two categories of members, one burdened with constituency obligations, and the other with superior stature and the possibility of becoming a minister. Constituency representation suffers from the number of constituencies, which acts as a constraint on those in power due to the increased influence of a variety of politicians as well as the general public. Consequently, candidates lower on the list have less authority and are more limited in their ability to wield such power in parliament. This influence is further limited by the fact that elections are held every three years and the candidates selected are only in power during this period.
If elected officials wish to remain in power, they must be re-elected by the public. This imposes significant constraints on authority since elected officials must first gain the support of members of society in order to retain their positions of power. Essentially, the elected members of parliament who fill the remaining seats are limited in their individual authority and must abide by the laws of their parties or parties in government.
These elections offered fair and competitive representation. They have had an impact on politics by discouraging governments from undertaking radical and highly unpopular initiatives. Not only that, but election advertising offers voters a wealth of information about political parties, candidates, policies, the record of the government in place, the political system, and more. Candidates and parties have strong incentives to provide incomplete and misleading information as they want to convince rather than educate. Elections have also contributed to building legitimacy by justifying a system of governance and encouraging citizens to participate in political life. Elections, which have been used as a vehicle by elites to manipulate and control the people, have also been included in the process of elite building.
Analysis of the impact of elections in New Zealand reveals that elections limit people’s access to and desire for power. The New Zealand context shows that the MMP system used in parliament and elections constrains those in power to share their authority with other MPs, while taking into account the preferences of its people. In fact, the elected MPs who fill the remaining seats are limited in their own authority and must meet their parties’ or parties’ standards of government.