This special 40c stamp was released to commemorate New Zealand's first Mixed Member Proportional representation election that would occur later in 1996.
The way New Zealanders had elected their government for generations underwent dramatic and fundamental change in 1993. In an electoral referendum that year the nation voted against the traditional first-past-the-post (FPP) system under which the candidate receiving the largest number of votes in an electorate or constituency was elected to the House of Representatives.
One common criticism of FPP was that it was unfair to small parties which often polled well overall but failed to gain representation in Parliament. Many people felt too it was unreasonable that the party with the largest number of seats always became the government although in some elections actually receiving fewer votes in total than the main opposition party. In the 1993 referendum New Zealanders chose to replace FPP by Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), a proportional voting system. Over the next three years the rules for MMP were fixed and MMP was used for the first time in the 1996 general election.
Under MMP every New Zealander eligible to vote has two votes - one a Party Vote for the political party an individual wants to be represented by in Parliament, and the other an Electoral Vote for the electorate candidate an individual wants to be his or her Member of Parliament (MP) - still chosen by the FPP method.
Prior to the first MMP election there were 99 MPs but under MMP there are usually 120 (the number can vary slightly depending on various circumstances). Parliament is made up of 60 MPs chosen by electors on the general electoral roll using their Electorate Vote, five MPs chosen by voters on the Maori roll and 55 MPs from party lists by voters using their Party Vote.
Before an election, each party discloses lists of names of candidates it wishes to be represented by in Parliament. These schedules are known as the Party Lists and the number of those on the lists who make it to Parliament depends on the number of Party Votes each party gets. Thus the final number of MPs in Parliament from each party depends on that party's share of the Party Votes. However, there is a threshold to be reached before a party gains representation in Parliament. A party must win at least five percent of all the Party Votes or win at least one electorate seat through the Electorate Vote to receive a proportional allocation of Party seats in Parliament.
This special 40c stamp featured a ballot box in the shape of what has become the symbol of New Zealand's government, Wellington's 'Beehive'. Also featured was the 'two ticks' logo signifying that, under MMP, each voter has two votes.
Printed as a sheetlet of 10 40c stamps, the MMP stamp was supplied on standing order according to an individual's miniature sheet requirements. Single stamps were not supplied by mail order.
Product Listing for MMP
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|Sheetlet||Mint, used or cancelled sheetlet of 10 x 40c stamps.||$4.00|
|First Day Cover||First day cover with two gummed stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue.||$1.05|
|Date of issue:||4 September 1996|
|Stamps and first day cover designed by:||Gatehaus Design, Wellington, New Zealand|
|Number of stamps:||One in a shetlet of ten stamps.|
|Printer and process:||Southern Colour Print, New Zealand by lithography|
|Stamp size and format:||30mm x 35mm vertical|
|Sheet size:||10 stamps; Sheetlet Size: 100mm x 215mm|
|Paper type:||Red phosphor coated, unwatermarked|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 4 September 1997.|