6.16 The formation of a government following a general election is the usual process by which executive power is transferred from one government administration to another. For information on mid-term changes of government, see paragraphs 6.58 – 6.61.
6.18 Under New Zealand’s proportional representation electoral system, it is likely that two or more parties will negotiate coalition or support agreements so that a government can be formed, whether it is a majority or minority government. A coalition agreement provides for a closer relationship between two or more parties than a support agreement, a distinguishing characteristic of coalition agreements being that coalition parties are represented in Cabinet. For an outline of how Cabinet collective responsibility operates in coalition and support arrangements, see paragraphs 5.26 – 5.31.
6.19 Even when the composition of the government has not changed greatly, it has become standard for the government holding office before the election to be deemed the outgoing government and for all Ministers to formally resign, marking the end of that administration. The beginning of the new administration is then marked with a full appointment ceremony (see paragraphs 2.20 and 6.48).
6.20During the government formation process, before the incoming government is appointed, the outgoing government continues to govern, but it does so as a caretaker government governing under the caretaker convention (see paragraphs 6.24 – 6.30).