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NZES1996: New Zealand Election Study

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posted on 03.10.2016, 04:27 by Jack Vowles, Susan Banducci, Jeffrey Karp, Peter Aimer, Helena Catt, Raymond MillerRaymond Miller

The objectives of the 1996 election study were two-fold: to monitor the democratic process during New Zealand’s transition from a plurality (first-past-the-post) electoral system to a proportional (MMP) system, and to gauge the attitudes, opinions and behaviours of electors. Two election surveys were conducted – one during the campaign and the other after the election. The questionnaire and data set provided are from the post-election survey.

Electors surveyed in the pre-election phase answered questions on party affiliation, preferred Prime Minister, most important issue affecting voting choice, party and candidate most likely to choose, coalition preferences, parties expected to form the next government, and the relative importance of party and electoral votes under MMP.

Electors in the post-election phase were asked questions on their interest in politics, the type of communication (e.g. phone calls, letters) received from members of campaigning parties, previous and current party affiliation, the effectiveness of MPs, unity of the main political parties, the performance of the government, important election and social issues, the power of the vote and the need for a one-party government.

Background variables included age, gender, marital status, occupation, income, collection of benefits, subjective class, religion, ethnic identity, occupation and partisanship of parents.


Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST); University of Waikato Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Committee; The University of Auckland Research Committee; Lottery Sciences



Simple random sample; Number of units in original sample: 8,404. Campaign survey respondents were selected by random digit dialling drawn from a national sampling frame of telephone numbers. Post-election Māori and non-Māori survey respondents who had not been interviewed in the 1990 or 1993 election surveys were randomly selected from the 1996 electoral and Māori rolls respectively. A subset of respondents were also drawn from previous electoral studies – those who had been interviewed in both 1990 and 1993 and those who had joined the study in 1993. Respondents previously interviewed in the 1990 and 1993 election studies all received questionnaires.


Persons aged 18 and over listed on the New Zealand electoral rolls; persons aged 18 and over and listed on the Māori rolls.

Mode of Collection

Telephone interview; self-completion (mail out, mail back). Campaign survey respondents were interviewed by telephone, while those surveyed after the election were asked to complete a questionnaire. Some of those respondents who did not return the questionnaire were followed up with via a telephone interview.


Several weighting variables are provided for more representative analysis.

Series Information

Through the analysis of political behaviour over successive New Zealand elections, we have been monitoring the democratic process in New Zealand during a period of social and economic change and, most particularly, during the transition between electoral systems: the first past the post (FPP) or plurality electoral system in effect in New Zealand from the origins of the political system, and the new Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system which is in effect from the 1996 election. The NZES began in its present form in 1990. The NZES’s main source of data are questionnaires which are posted to randomly selected registered electors across the country immediately following each election. Questions focus on voting choices, political opinions, and social and demographic characteristics.

Publisher (e.g. University of Auckland)

The University of Auckland

Contact email


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