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New Zealanders Place High Trust In Our Democratic System

New Zealanders have more Trust and Confidence in our democratic process than elsewhere, and there is interest in increasing the Parliamentary term to four years.

The topic:

Thinking about recent events, we thought it would be interesting to look at New Zealanders’ confidence in our democratic process relative to other countries, and to explore interest in potential changes to our electoral system.

Our November poll of n=1,004 New Zealanders, 18 years of age and over was completed between 12 and 16 November 2020. We asked two questions in order to:

• Measure the level of full Trust and Confidence in New Zealand’s democratic process compared to other countries, including Australia, the UK, USA, and Hong Kong.

• Gauge support for suggested changes to New Zealand’s electoral system including increasing the Parliamentary term from 3 to 4 years, the introduction of compulsory voting, and lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years.

The main findings of this poll are:

Ninety percent of New Zealanders (90%) have full Trust and Confidence in New Zealand’s democratic process.

Two-thirds (66%) have full Trust and Confidence in the democratic process of Australia and over half (55%) for the UK.

There was significantly less full Trust and Confidence in the American democratic process at less than a quarter (23%), and very little for Hong Kong at only eight percent.

Three-fifths (61%) of New Zealanders would support increasing the Parliamentary term from 3 to 4 years.

There was less support for the introduction of compulsory voting (supported by 40%) and lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years (supported by 20%). Key results – full Trust and Confidence in New Zealand’s democratic process:

The key results are as follows:

Ninety percent of New Zealanders (90%) have full Trust and Confidence in New Zealand’s democratic process.

          This was consistent regardless of age group, gender, or region. 

Two-thirds (66%) have full Trust and Confidence in the democratic process of Australia and over half (55%) for the UK.

There was significantly less full Trust and Confidence in the American democratic process at less than a quarter (23%), and very little for Hong Kong at only eight percent.

            Aucklanders were the most likely to trust the American democratic process at 30%, while South Islanders were least likely at 16%.

Table 1: Thinking about recent events, would you say you have full Trust and Confidence in the democratic process in the following countries?

  • Age is a significant factor (see Table 2) – younger respondents (18 to 34 years) were less likely to have confidence in the democratic process of Australia (58%), the UK (44%), and the USA (18%). However, with Hong Kong it was the older respondents who were less likely to trust the democratic process (3% of those aged 55 or older).

Table 2: Thinking about recent events, would you say you have full Trust and Confidence in the democratic process in the following countries?

Key results – Support for changes to New Zealand’s electoral system:

The key results are as follows:

Three-fifths (61%) of New Zealanders would support increasing the Parliamentary term from 3 to 4 years.

This was consistently supported across the regions.

Younger respondents were less in favour with 53% of 18 to 34 year olds in support compared to 62% of 35 to 54 year olds and 67% of those aged 55 years or older.

Forty percent would support the introduction of compulsory voting in New Zealand. There was strongest support from Aucklanders at 45%.

Twenty percent support lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years.

    Not surprisingly, support was strongest amongst younger respondents, with support from 28% of 18 to 34 year olds, 23% of 35 to 54 year olds and just 11% of those aged 55 or older.

      Male respondents were more in favour at 24% compared to females at 17%, and Wellington was the region most in favour with 29% support.

Table 3: In New Zealand, a number of commentators have proposed changes to our electoral system. Which (if any) of these changes would you support?

Comment:

“Recent events appear to have reinforced New Zealanders’ pride in our country’s democratic process, especially when compared to other countries like the United States and Hong Kong. In terms of potential changes to our electoral system, currently there is little support for making voting compulsory in New Zealand or lowering the voting age. However, the results show there is support for considering a change to increase the Parliamentary term from 3 years to 4 years.”

- Research New Zealand Managing Partner, Emanuel Kalafatelis.

This survey of 1,004 respondents aged 18 years and over was conducted online between 12 and 16 November 2020. The maximum margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent (at the 95 percent confidence level). The sample has been weighted by gender and age to ensure the results are representative of the population 18 years plus based on these demographic criteria.

The survey was not undertaken on behalf of any organisation, but as part of Research New Zealand’s social poll of New Zealanders’ opinions about topical issues.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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