Officially: Realm of New Zealand.
Seat of government: Wellington.
Structure: Parliament (House of Representatives/Pāremata) is elected in geographical constituencies, modified by party-list proportional representation, and chooses the prime minister.
Governing parties: New Zealand National Party; ACT New Zealand; United Future; Māori Party.
Head of government: John Key, National, prime minister (since 2008).
Opposition parliamentary parties: Labour Party; Progressive Party; New Zealand First Party.
Assessment: Generally speaking, a liberal and progressive state. Terms are short (three years) but changes of power are infrequent; the Nationals were formed by a merger of the Liberal/United and Reform parties, which governed between them from 1891 to 1935, the National and Labour parties have been alternating the premiership since 1935, and neither has had a single term since 1960. The most recent Labour government was elected in 1999, under Helen Clark (1999-2008). Labour won a slight plurality in 2005 general elections, and relied on the outside support of the rightist, anti-immigrant New Zealand First Party, whose leader Winston Peters became foreign minister. Labour thus declined other potential coalitions to emphasize its provincial foreign policy. Tokelau, a dependency, held referenda on independence in 2006 and 2007, which officially failed despite 60% and 64% supporting. General elections in 2008 led to a sizable plurality for National, whose coalition partners are all supporting from outside. The National seat count increased in both 2011 and 2014, but left it just short of an absolute majority.
FH: 1-1, free. Econ: 9.26 (5), full democracy.
Updated: 2014 April 24.