Story: Electoral systems

1951 election: electorates won, by party (2nd of 2)

This map shows that in the 1951 general election, the seats in Parliament were divided between just two parties – National (blue) and Labour (red). Such dominance by the two major parties was partly a result of the first-past-the-post electoral system. At the time the Labour Party tended to win city seats, while the National Party won suburban and rural seats. In 1951 the National Party not only won a clear majority of the seats in Parliament (50 to Labour’s 30), but it also won more than half the votes cast by electors in the general election. It was the last time any party in New Zealand won more than half the votes in a parliamentary election.

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Sources: Clifford Norton, New Zealand parliamentary election results, 1946–1987. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington, 1988, pp. 7–9; Alan McRobie, New Zealand electoral atlas. Wellington: GP Books, 1989, pp. 94–97

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How to cite this page:

Nigel S. Roberts, 'Electoral systems - Back to first-past-the-post', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 October 2021)

Story by Nigel S. Roberts, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 1 Feb 2015