Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis


Best Senior Thesis in Public Policy

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Reader 1

Eric Helland

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2021 Harrison G Hosking


Conscience voting in the New Zealand House of Representatives offers a unique opportunity to assess Sam Peltzman’s ‘Principal-Agent Theory’ as outlined in his 1984 paper, Constituent Interest and Congressional Voting.

This thesis begins with a brief assessment of the principal-agent model (and other literature regarding parliamentary representation) before looking at the New Zealand Parliamentary system and the phenomenon of private member’s bills and how they aid the legislative process. This is followed by an exploration of a constructed dataset of conscience votes that have occurred since the inception of the mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral system in 1996. An analysis of the conscience voting patterns of the 52nd Parliament is then undertaken and an attempt to form an ideology score for each Member of Parliament present since the 45th Parliament, based purely off of a subset of these conscience votes, is then formed. This is followed by regression analysis and statistical prediction analysis that aim to capture a measure of ‘legislative shirking’ as well as assess the strength of the principal-agent theory when it comes to conscience voting and the various factors that comprise it. Finally, I aim to qualitatively assess the motives behind conscience voting in the New Zealand House of Representatives through interviews with several current Members of Parliament who were present during the 52nd Parliament session, including Dr. Deborah Russell, Tim van de Molen and Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki. I conclude with a final discussion and assessment of the topic of conscience voting in the New Zealand House of Representatives.