How to fix an election date

On Wednesday I argued that New Zealand should fix the general election date in law. Here's how it could be done.

Following my previous post, I got an email from Idiot Savant over at No Right Turn suggesting that I might like to try my hand at drafting up a member's bill that would fix the election date in law. I guess he's of the view that it is unlikely the current Government (or maybe any government) will voluntarily relinquish its advantage by taking this step, but might be forced to do so if the House were to consider the matter by way of a legislative proposal from the Opposition benches.

Whether or not he's right about that, here's my suggestion about how the move could happen. Discussion and devastating criticisms always welcome in the comments thread below ... while any MP (or MP's advisor) who happens to read this is welcome to steal the idea gratis.


Electoral (Fixed Election Date) Amendment Bill

Member's Bill

1. Title

This Act is the Electoral (Fixed Election Dates) Amendment Act 2010.

2. Commencement

This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

3. Date for the General Election

The following section is inserted into the Electoral Act 1993.

125A Date for the General Election

(1) Subject to subsection (2), the date for a general election shall be the last Saturday of November in the third calendar year following polling day for the last general election, with the first general election after this section comes into force being held on Saturday, November 26, 2011.

(2) A general election may be held on a date other than that specified in subsection (1) only if a resolution of the House to that effect is supported by a majority of members of Parliament voting upon the matter.”

4. Constitution Act amended

The Constitution Act 1986, section 18(2) is repealed and the following subsection is substituted.

“(2) Subject to the Electoral Act 1993, s. 125A, the Governor-General may by Proclamation prorogue or dissolve Parliament.”