NZ Elections: The Coalition Options

After 21 years of MMP elections, I’m surprised at the number of people who don’t really understand the options available for a coalition government.

So here they are, in less than 300 words …

Formal coalition:

The party giving support gets seats around the Cabinet table.

They are bound by cabinet collective responsibility (call it CCR for short). What that means is that once an issue has been decided, no Cabinet minister can publicly disagree or criticise.

Under a formal coalition, smaller parties might gain the power and influence of a Cabinet position, but they’ll struggle to differentiate themselves from the governing party simply because they can’t speak out about Cabinet decisions .

Confidence and supply:

“Confidence and supply” means the support party will support the minority government in motions of confidence (do they still have public support) and their budgets (supply of funds to keep them going). They may do so by either voting in favour or simply abstaining.

This allows for support parties to have ministerial positions within the executive, but outside of Cabinet, freeing them from cabinet collective responsibility.

Support ministers can’t criticise government policy in their own portfolios, but they’re free to hold independent views on any other issue.


This is simply a promise not to vote against the government on either confidence or supply.

This is the option minority governments fear because the support party can use its leverage to negotiate every piece of legislation the governing party wants to pass.

There. Simple, isn’t it? And all in just 270 words (including these).

So which way do you think the election will go …?

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