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New Zealand Government

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New Zealand Government

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Under the Royal Titles Act (1953), Queen Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the Head of State and is represented, in her absence, by a non-partisan Governor-General. The Queen 'reigns but does not rule'; she has no real political influence. Political power is held by the democratically-elected Parliament of New Zealand under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who is the Head of Government.

The New Zealand Parliament

The New Zealand parliament has only one chamber, the House of Representatives, which usually seats 120 Members of Parliament. Parliamentary general elections are held every three years under a form of proportional representation called Mixed Member Proportional.

Government Structure

There is no written constitution; the Constitution Act 1986 is the principal formal statement of New Zealand's constitutional structure. The Governor-General has the power to appoint and dismiss Prime Ministers and to dissolve Parliament. The Governor-General also chairs the Executive Council, which is a formal committee consisting of all ministers of the Crown.

Members of the Executive Council are required to be Members of Parliament, and most are also in Cabinet. Cabinet is the most senior policy-making body and is led by the Prime Minister, who is also, by convention, the Parliamentary leader of the governing party or coalition.

The current Prime Minister is John Key, leader of the National Party, who replaced Helen Clark on 19 November 2008. The Leader of the Opposition is Phil Goff, who replaced Helen Clark as leader of the Labour Party.

The highest court in New Zealand is the Supreme Court of New Zealand. This was established in 2004 following the passage of the Supreme Court Act 2003, which also abolished the option to appeal to the Privy Council in London. The current Chief Justice is Dame Sian Elias. New Zealand's judiciary also includes the High Court, which deals with serious criminal offences and civil matters; the Court of Appeal; and subordinate courts.


Links:

New Zealand Government
www.beehive.govt
New Zealand Parliament

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