Glossary

Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.

A

Absolute majority

More than half (i.e. 50 percent + 1). See also simple majority.

Advance vote

An ordinary or Special Declaration Vote cast between nomination day and election day. Also sometimes called an early vote.

B

Balance seats

The seats used to ‘balance’ the number of members in the legislature when an overhang occurs (see below). In some countries, balance seats are used to maintain the proportionality between parties established by an election result. This increases the size of the legislature as the party with the overhang seats keeps the additional seats and other parties represented in the Parliament receive extra seats to ‘balance’ the numbers to ensure overall proportionality.

Ballot box

The box at a polling place into which a ballot paper or voting paper is inserted after being completed by a voter; the ballot box is sealed before voting commences, and is not normally opened until the start of the count.

Ballot paper

A paper on which voters mark their choice at a general election or by-election.

Binding referendum

A referendum where the government or Parliament must follow the winning vote.

Boundaries

The physical boundaries of an electorate determined by the Representation Commission according to criteria specified in the Electoral Act 1993.

Broadcasting allocations

The allocations made by the Electoral Commission to enable political parties to broadcast election programmes on radio and television during the election period. Allocations are of: time provided by Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand for broadcasting opening addresses and closing addresses, and public money appropriated by Parliament to enable parties to produce election programmes and buy broadcasting time.

By-election

An election in an electorate seat to fill a vacancy that arises between general elections.

C

Cabinet

A committee of ministers which makes almost all significant government decisions. Some members of the Executive may not be in Cabinet.  Cabinet members are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, who also allocates portfolios.

Candidate

A person who is a New Zealand citizen who is enrolled as an elector and who has been nominated with his or her consent for election to Parliament as a dual candidate, an electorate candidate, or a list candidate.

Candidate selection

The method used by each political party to choose their candidates. Each party makes its own rules. A registered political party must have democratic candidate selection rules.

Caretaker government

A government that continues in office to keep the country running but does not make new policy decisions.  A government will be a caretaker government: between when a general election is called and either it is clearly returned to government or an alternative government is sworn in, or after it has been defeated in a vote of confidence in the House until either it wins a vote of confidence, an alternative government is sworn in, or a general election is called (as above).

Citizens initiated referendum

An indicative referendum held under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993 following a petition requesting a referendum that is signed by at least 10 percent of all registered electors.

Clear intention test

The overriding test to determine whether a vote at a general election, by-election or referendum should be counted is whether the voter has clearly indicated the candidate or political party or answer for whom or for which he or she desired to vote.

Close of the poll

The time when all voting ceases on Election Day currently 7pm.

Closed list

A party list in which voters cannot alter a party's ordering of its list candidates. This is what is used in New Zealand.

Closing address

A broadcast presentation (often including a speech by the party leader) at the end of a party's formal election campaign. Time for opening addresses and closing addresses is made available on TVNZ and RNZ. This time is allocated between registered political parties by the Electoral Commission.

Coalition

A majority government or a minority government made up of two or more parties.

Compensatory seats

This is another name for list seats in an MMP system. Because the purpose of these seats is to compensate parties for the disproportionate results that can occur in an election, they are sometimes called 'compensatory seats'.

Constituency

A geographic area defined and named by the Representation Commission to elect a general electorate MP or a Maori electorate MP. More commonly called an electorate in New Zealand.

Constituency candidate

A person nominated for election to an electorate seat. Also commonly called an electorate candidate.

Constituency candidate donation

One or more donations made by a person or body of persons to a constituency candidate of money or the equivalent of money or goods and services totalling more than $1,000 (incl. GST) in aggregate for use in the candidate's personal campaign for election.

Constitution

New Zealand does not have one codified document that contains the constitution. In New Zealand, the set of statutes, decisions of the courts, common law powers, and constitutional conventions which together establish and describe the major institutions of government, state their principal powers and broadly regulate their exercise.

Constitutional convention

An important unwritten rule or practice concerning the constitution.

Constitutional monarchy

A system of government in which the actions of the King or Queen as Head of State are constrained by the provisions of the constitution. New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy.

Corrupt practice

A serious offence against the electoral process, resulting in a fine and/or imprisonment and entry of the name of the person who committed the corrupt practice on the corrupt practices list for three years.

Corrupt Practices List

A list compiled by each Registrar of Electors of the names of persons found to have committed an electorally corrupt practice. Anyone placed on this list is not permitted to enrol as an elector.

Current financial member

A registered political party must have 500 current financial members. Proof of this membership if provided through copies of singed and dated membership forms which indicate that a membership fee has been paid.

D

Declaration of result

The Electoral Commission declares the result of the election of: each electorate MP by notice in the New Zealand Gazette after the final count in that electorate, list MPs by notice in the New Zealand Gazette after all electorate MPs are declared elected, the totals of all the valid party votes have been received from all the Returning Officers, and the Sainte-Lague formula has been applied, a referendum by notice in the New Zealand Gazette.

Deposit

The $300 that each electorate candidate must pay to the Returning Officer by noon on nomination day. This is returned to the candidate if he or she gets at least 5 percent of all the electorate votes cast in that electorate.

Disallowed vote

A vote at a General election, by-election or referendum that is not eligible to be counted, eg, because it was cast for an electorate by a person who is not a registered elector for that electorate, or because it arrived after the deadline for receipt of special votes, or because there was some irregularity in the way it was issued. Sometimes called an invalid vote.

Dissolution of Parliament

The end of a Parliament before its term has expired in order to hold a general election.

Dual candidacy

In New Zealand a person can be a candidate for an electorate seat and be on a party list. This is called dual candidacy.

E

Early election

A General election held some time before the end of Parliament's three year term.

EasyVote Card

A card, included in the voter information pack, sent to every person enrolled by writ day. The card contains basic information on the elector, including their reference number on the electoral roll. Voters will be asked to hand over the card at the polling place to speed up the voting process.

Effective party votes

The party votes cast for parties that cross the threshold.

Election day

A term often used to refer to the day (which must be a Saturday) specified in the writ on which a general election or by-election is held.

Election expenses

The expenses on advertising, broadcasting, printing and publishing incurred by an electorate candidate in the three months before Election Day in respect of his or her personal campaign for election.

Election period

Under the Broadcasting Act 1989, the period between writ day and the close of the day before Election Day.

Election petition

A challenge to the result of an election heard by three judges of the High Court or by the Court of Appeal.

Election programme

A programme broadcast on radio or television which encourages or persuades, or appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote for, or against a political party or candidate; or advocates support for, or opposes, a candidate, or a political party; or notifies meetings held or to be held in connection with an election.

Elector

A person who is included in the electoral roll for an electorate.

Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission is an independent Crown entity responsible for the administration of parliamentary elections and referenda, the delivery of enrolment services, the allocation of time and money for the broadcast of election programmes, conduct of the Māori Electoral Option, servicing the work of the Representation Commission, the provision of advice, reports and public education on electoral matters, and electoral enrolment services for both parliamentary and local elections.

Electoral district

A geographic area defined and named by the Representation Commission to elect a general electorate MP or a Maori electorate MP. In New Zealand usually called an electorate.

Electoral roll

The list of all the registered electors for a particular electorate kept by the Registrar of Electors.

Electoral System

The general name for all the rules concerning elections, i.e. the voting system, boundaries, registration of electors, candidacy, campaign spending, broadcasting, etc.

Electoral tolerance

As a principle every electorate should have nearly the same total population. Where this cannot be achieved, electorates can differ in size from each other by plus or minus 5%. This is called a ‘tolerance’ and means an electorate can have a population total that is up to 5% more or 5% less than the average electorate size.

Electorate

A geographic area defined and named by the Representation Commission to elect an electorate MP. There are two types of electorate, General and Mãori.

Electorate boundaries

The physical boundaries of an electorate determined by the Representation Commission according to criteria specified in the Electoral Act 1993, section s 35 to 46.

Electorate candidate

A person nominated for election to an electorate seat. In the Electoral Act 1993 the term constituency candidate is used.

Electorate MP

A Member of Parliament elected to represent a General or Mãori electorate by winning a simple majority of Electorate Votes in that electorate.

Electorate seat

A seat in parliament held by an MP elected to an electorate.

Electorate Vote

The vote each voter has under MMP for a candidate to be the electorate MP for the General electorate or the Mãori electorate for which the voter is enrolled.

Enrolled elector

A person who is included in the electoral roll for an electorate.

Entrenched sections

The term (along with 'reserved sections') given to some sections of the Electoral Act 1993 that deal with the basic features of the electoral system and are protected against the ordinary processes of legislative amendment because they can only be amended by a vote of 75 percent of all MPs or by a majority of those who vote at a referendum.

Executive

The Government, i.e, all Ministers (whether or not a member of Cabinet) and all Associate Ministers and Under-Secretaries. Government website.

Executive Council

The body through which the government as a whole formally gives advice to the Governor-General. By convention, all Ministers of the Crown are members of the Executive Council, whether or not they are members of Cabinet. The Governor-General presides over, but is not a member of, the Executive Council.

Expiry of Parliament

Parliament expires three years after the day fixed for the return of the writs for a general election, and (unless Parliament has already been dissolved) the Governor-General must then direct the Clerk of the Writs to issue the writs for a general election.

F

Final count

A count conducted by each Returning Officer of the electorate votes and party votes cast at a General election, by-election or referendum after the 10-day period for receiving special votes has expired and the scrutiny of the rolls has been completed.

Financial members of political party

A registered political party must have 500 current financial members. Proof of this membership if provided through copies of singed and dated membership forms which indicate that a membership fee has been paid.

First Past the Post

A voting system based on single-member electorates in which the candidate who wins a simple majority of votes is elected. Used in New Zealand before MMP was adopted.

G

Gazette

The New Zealand Gazette, the regular publication by the Department of Internal Affairs containing official notices.

General Election

An election of all electorate and list Members of Parliament following the dissolution or expiry of Parliament.

General electoral population

The total number of people from the census minus the Maori electoral population.

General Electorate

A geographic area defined and named by the Representation Commission which elects one electorate MP through the Electorate Votes of those on the General roll in that area.

General roll

A collective name for all the electoral rolls for the general electorates.

Government

The political party, or group of political parties, represented in the House that the Governor-General has approved to lead the country and that has the confidence of the House. The word 'Government' is also used more narrowly to mean the executive.

Government initiated referendum

A referendum prompted by the government and specified in legislation.

Governor-General

The person appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the New Zealand government to be the Sovereign's representative in New Zealand.

H

Head of State

The Sovereign in his or her capacity as the formal head of the New Zealand state. Currently Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of New Zealand.

House of Representatives

The only house of New Zealand legislature, members of which are known as members of Parliament, or MPs. Often referred to as 'parliament'.

I

Independent candidate

An electorate candidate who is not standing on behalf of a political party.

Independent MP

An MP elected to Parliament independent of any party.

Indicative referendum

A referendum where the result is not binding on the Government or Parliament.

Informal vote

A vote at a General election, by-election or referendum that is not a disallowed vote but does not satisfy the clear intention test.

Invalid vote

A vote at a General election, by-election or referendum that is not eligible to be counted, eg, because it was cast for an electorate by a person who is not a registered elector for that electorate, or because it arrived after the deadline for receipt of special votes, or because there was some irregularity in the way it was issued. Also called a disallowed vote.

J

Judicial recount

A recount conducted by a District Court Judge of electorate votes and/or party votes cast in an electorate.

L

Legislative Council

New Zealand's appointed upper house from 1852 until its abolition in 1950.

List candidate

A candidate for election as a list MP who has been included on a party list.

List MP

An MP elected to Parliament from a party list.

List seat

A seat in parliament held by an MP elected from a party list.

M

Majority

More than half (i.e. 50 percent + 1).

Majority Government

A government made up of one or more political parties that together have an absolute majority of MPs in the House of Representatives.

Member of Parliament

A person elected to Parliament (abbreviated to ‘MP’); under MMP each MP is elected either as an electorate MP or as a list MP.

Member of Parliament

A person elected to Parliament; under MMP, each Member of Parliament will be elected as either an electorate MP or as a list MP.

Minority Government

A government made up of one or more parties which together do not have an absolute majority of all the seats in the House of Representatives, and which therefore rely on the support of other parties outside the government or Independent MPs on votes of confidence and in order to pass legislation.

Mixed member proportional voting system

The voting system used in New Zealand is a mixed member proportional system because the Parliament is made up of a mix of members — those elected from electorates and those from a party list and because it is proportional.

Mãori Electorate

A geographic area defined and named by the Representation Commission which elects one electorate MP through the Electorate Votes of those on the Mãori roll in that area.

Māori electoral option

The period after each five-yearly census when each person on the Māori roll, and each person on the General roll who said they were Māori when they last registered as an elector, is able to choose whether to be enrolled on the Māori roll or on the General roll for the period until the next Māori Electoral Option.

Māori electoral option

The period after each five-yearly census when each person on the Māori roll, and each person on the General roll who said they were Māori when they last registered as an elector, is able to choose whether to be enrolled on the Māori roll or on the General roll for the period until the next Māori Electoral Option.

Māori electoral population

The Māori electoral population is calculated by taking the ratio of the number of people registered on the Māori electoral rolls compared to the total number of people on all the electoral rolls (general and Māori) who said they were of Māori decent when they last enrolled.

Māori roll

A collective name for all the electoral rolls for the Maori electorates.

N

Nomination

Each electorate candidate must be nominated by noon on nomination day, either by two other persons who are enrolled electors for the electorate for which the candidate wishes to stand, or by the secretary of a registered political party, a list candidate is nominated by being included on a party list submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer by the secretary of a registered political party by noon on nomination day. Each electorate candidate and each list candidate must consent to being nominated.

Nomination day

The date specified in the writ for a General election or by-election by noon on which all nominations for electorate candidates must be made to a Returning Officer, and in the case of a General election by noon on which all party lists must be submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer.

O

Open list

A party list in which voters can alter a party's ordering of its list candidates, e.g. by expressing a preference for a particular candidate. New Zealand uses a closed list.

Opening address

A presentation (often including a speech by the party leader) at the start of a party's formal election campaign. Time for opening addresses and closing addresses is made available on TVNZ and RNZ. This time is allocated between registered political parties by the Electoral Commission.

Ordinary vote

A vote cast by a voter on Election Day at a polling booth for the electorate for which the voter is a registered elector.

Overhang seats

The name sometimes given to electorate seats won by a registered political party in excess of the total number of seats to which it would be entitled based on its share of the effective party votes.

Overhang Seats

The name sometimes given to electorate seats won by a registered political party in excess of the total number of seats to which it would be entitled based on its share of the effective Party Votes.

Overseas vote

A special declaration vote cast outside New Zealand.

P

Parliament

Strictly speaking, the legislative body in New Zealand comprising the House of Representatives and the Sovereign or the Governor-General as the Sovereign’s representative, although the term is commonly used to refer to the House of Representatives alone.

Party donation

Donations made by a person or body of persons to a political party of money or the equivalent of money or goods and services totalling more than $10,000 (incl. GST) singley or in aggregate.

Party List

A list of the names of list candidates nominated by a registered political party, in the order the party wants those candidates to be elected to Parliament.

Party logo

The symbol or emblem of a registered political party or an unregistered political party.

Party Vote

The vote each voter has under MMP for a registered political party.

Permanent resident

A person who is not a New Zealand citizen but has been granted the right to live in New Zealand indefinitely and therefore qualified to be a registered elector but, in general, not to be a candidate.

Petition

A petition is a list of signatures agreeing to a statement or request which is presented to parliament. Details of how to submit a petition are here.

Political party

In general, a group of persons organised to acquire and exercise political influence through the election of members of the party to the House of Representatives.

Polling booth

A term often used to refer the portioned area within a polling place where a voter goes to cast their vote in private.

Polling Day

The day specified in the writ on which a general election, by-election, poll or referendum is held; also used to refer to election day.

Polling place

The location where votes are taken for a General election, by-election, or referendum, containing one or more polling booths for one or more general electorates and/or Maori electorates.

Postal vote

A system where electors receive a voting paper in the mail and, after voting, return it in a freepost pre-addressed envelope to the Returning Officer. Used for local body elections in New Zealand.

Preferential Voting (PV)

A voting system (sometimes called Alternative Vote) in which each electorate elects one MP and the elector lists candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the first preference votes the lowest polling candidate is eliminated and his or her votes are redistributed according to 2nd preferences. This continues until a candidate gains more than 50 percent of the vote and is thus elected. Used for the Australian lower house elections

Proportional representation

When a political party’s share of all the seats in Parliament is close to its share of the popular vote.

Proportional Voting System

A voting system in which a political party’s share of all the seats in Parliament is close to its share of the popular vote; there are many different types of proportional voting systems, and many variations within each type.

Provisional enrolment

An application to enrol as an elector at age 17 which is converted to full registration on that person's 18th birthday.

Q

Quotient

In the Sainte-Lague ormula used in MMP elections, the total number of party votes received by each party is divided by successive odd numbers. The resulting values are called quotients.

R

Recount

A judicial recount is conducted by a District Court Judge of electorate votes and/or party votes cast in an electorate.

Referendum

A vote by enrolled electors on some constitutional or public policy issue which may be held in conjunction with a general election or at some other time. Referendums may be advisory, indicative or binding.

Register of Political Parties

A list of the names, abbreviations and component parties of the political parties that have been registered by the Electoral Commission under Part IV of the Electoral Act 1993; only registered political parties may nominate a party list and thus appear on the party vote part of the ballot paper.

Registered elector

A person who is included in the electoral roll for an electorate. More commonly called an enrolled elector

Registered party logo

A party logo that has been registered by the Electoral Commission and which may then appear on the ballot paper for a General election or by-election.

Registered political party

A political party that is included on the Register of Political Parties.

Registrar of Electors

The person appointed by the Chief Registrar of Electors for a general electorate or for a Maori electorate to compile and maintain the electoral roll for that electorate.

Representation Commission

The Representation Commission is an independent body that determines the boundaries and names of the General Electorates and the Mãori Elecotrates after each five-yearly population census and the Mãori electoral option.

Reserve powers

The exercise by the Governor-General of formal powers to appoint and dismiss a Prime Minister, and to dissolve Parliament, in the rare situations when these powers have to be exercised on the basis of independent judgement rather than on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Reserved sections

The term (along with 'entrenched sections') given to some sections of the Electoral Act 1993 that deal with the basic features of the electoral system and are protected against the ordinary processes of legislative amendment because they can only be amended by a vote of 75 percent of all MPs or by a majority of those who vote at a referendum.

Return of election expenses

A form provided by each electorate candidate to the Chief Electoral Officer after a general election or by-election showing the candidate's election expenses and constituency candidate donations; A form provided by each registered political party to the Electoral Commission after a general election showing the party's election expenses.

Return of the writ

The return of the writ shows the name of every person elected as an electorate MP or the result of the referendum. The Chief Electoral Officer must send it to the Clerk of the House by the date specified in the writ.

Returning Officer

The person appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer for a general electorate or a Maori electorate to conduct a General election, by-election or referendum in that electorate.

Roll

The list of all the registered electors for a particular electorate kept by the Registrar of Electors.

Royal Assent

A bill passed by the House of Representatives becomes law on being given the Royal Assent by being signed by the Sovereign as Head of State or by the Governor-General as the Sovereign's representative.

Royal Commission on the Electoral System

In 1985 a Royal Commission was established to inquire into a wide range of issues relating to the electoral system. Its report (Towards a Better Democracy) was completed in December 1986 and recommended the adoption of the German-style mixed member proportional representation (MMP) system that is the voting system used in New Zealand.

S

Sainte-Laguë Formula

The formula (usually pronounced 'Saint La-gu') used by the Chief Electoral Officer under the MMP system to allocate parliamentary seats to registered political parties that have crossed the threshold.

Scrutineer

At a general election or by-election, a person appointed by an electorate candidate or a political party to observe the conduct of an election at a polling place or at the final count; A person appointed by a political party to observe the Chief Electoral Officer's application of the Sainte-Laguë Formula at a general election; At a citizens initiated referendum, a person appointed to represent one side of the question to observe the conduct of the referendum at a polling place, and to observe the final count of votes.

Scrutiny of the roll

The examination of the electoral roll in an electorate to see whether any person has received more than one ballot paper or voting paper.

Secret ballot

A method of voting (eg, behind screens) so that nobody can see the way a voter has voted. Any poll clerk or scrutineer who infringes the secrecy of the poll is guilty of a corrupt practice.

Simple Majority

More votes or seats than any other person or party, but less than an absolute majority.

Single Transferable Vote (STV)

A voting system based on multi-member electorates, used for district Health Boards and some local government elections. Used for national elections in The Republic of Ireland and Malta. Electors indicate the order of their preference for the candidates by marking on the ballot paper 1, 2, 3 etc. The number of votes cast in an electorate and the number of members to be elected determine the quota of votes a candidate must win to be elected. Once the quota is set, the 1st preference votes are counted; candidates receiving more votes than the quota are declared elected and their surplus votes in excess of the quota are redistributed to other candidates according to voters' 2nd preferences. If the required number of members has not been elected, the lowest polling candidate is eliminated and his or her votes are redistributed to other candidates according to voters' 2nd preferences. The redistribution of surplus votes and of votes from eliminated candidates continues until the required number of candidates is elected.

Single-Party Government

A majority or minority government made up of only one political party. See also coalition government.

Snap election

A General election held some time before the end of Parliament's three year term. Also called an early election.

Sovereign

Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of New Zealand.

Special Declaration Vote

A vote cast at a General election, by-election, or referendum by a voter who is unable to cast an ordinary vote. Often referred to as a 'special vote'.

Split vote

Occurs at a general election when a voter casts a valid party vote and casts a valid electorate vote for a candidate who is not a candidate for the party voted for on the party vote.

Supplementary Member (SM)

An electoral system with electorate MPs and list MPs. SM differs from MMP because under SM only list seats are allocated proportionally, without taking account of the results in electorate seats, whereas in MMP the proportionality applies to all MPs.

Supply

Parliamentary authority for a government to spend public money and incur expenses or liabilities; the granting of supply by Parliament is always a matter of confidence in the government.

T

Term of Parliament

The maximum period of three years between the return of the writs for a general election and the expiry of Parliament; set by the Constitution Act 1986 and entrenched by the Electoral Act 1993.

Threshold/hurdle

The requirement under MMP that, in order to qualify for a proportional share of all the seats in Parliament based on its share of the Party Votes, a political party that is on the Party Vote must either win at least 5 percent of all the Party Votes, or win at least one electorate seat under its own name or under the name of a component party.

Turnout

The sum of all of the valid votes, disallowed votes, and informal votes expressed either: as a percentage of the total number of registered electors in an electorate or in all electorates combined, or as a percentage of the number of people in an electorate or in all electorates combined, who have reached the age when they may register as an elector, whether or not they are in fact registered electors.

U

Unpublished roll

The list of all electors in an electorate who have satisfied the Chief Registrar of Electors that having their details recorded on the published roll could threaten their personal safety or that of their families.

Unregistered political party

A political party that is not entered on the Register of Political Parties, and can therefore only nominate electorate candidates.

V

Vacancy

Created when the seat of an electorate MP or a list MP becomes vacant in one of the ways set out in the Electoral Act 1993, e.g. if the MP dies or resigns from Parliament. A by-election is normally held to fill a vacancy in an electorate seat, whereas a vacant list seat is filled by the next unsuccessful candidate on the party's list who is still a member of the party and who is willing to become an MP until the next general election.

Valid vote

A vote at a general election, by-election or referendum that is not a disallowed vote or an informal vote.

Vote of confidence

The parliamentary test on whether a government can continue in office is that it have the support of an absolute majority of the members of the House of Representatives who vote on certain crucial votes in the House. The term 'confidence and supply' is often used although the two are separate types of vote. A minority government will often seek an agreement for support on confidence and supply votes.

Voter

A person who votes at a General election, by-election, or referendum.

Voting paper

A paper on which voters mark their choice at a referendum or poll.

Voting System

A method of translating the votes of the people into seats in the legislature.

W

Wasted votes

Votes that are not used to elect either an electorate candidate or party are generally described as ‘wasted’ votes. This usually happens when a party fails to reach the five percent threshold or win an electorate seat, or when an electorate candidate does not win the electorate seat they stand for.

Westminster system

A system of parliamentary government found in the United Kingdom and in many former British colonies which in general has most of the following characteristics (although they have evolved in different ways in different places and may exist to varying degrees): responsible government; members of the government are required to be Members of Parliament; a Parliament that is legally entitled to amend or repeal any law passed by its predecessors; a constitution with important parts that are unwritten; a non-partisan public service; and an independent judiciary.

Writ

A written direction from the Governor-General to the Chief Electoral Officer to hold a general election, by-election, or referendum. In the case of a general election or by-election, the writ specifies the dates of nomination day, Election Day and the latest day for the return of the writ.

Writ day

The day on which the Governor-General issues a writ to the Chief Electoral Officer.