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Voting chance for Bahrain’s New Zealand expats

Manama, July 10, 2011

Hundreds of New Zealanders living in Bahrain are expected to vote in one of the most important elections in the country's history later this year.

Up to 600 New Zealanders living in the kingdom could be entitled to vote, but must register to be included on the electoral roll.

November's election will not only decide the make-up of the 50th New Zealand parliament, but also include a referendum on the voting system.

Preparations are already underway to ensure as many people as possible participate.

New Zealanders in Bahrain who have registered with the nearest New Zealand Embassy in Riyadh will shortly be receiving an e-mail reminding them to enrol to ensure they do not miss out on the chance to vote.

"New Zealanders aged 18 and over will be eligible to vote," said Consul Brian Chambers. "Citizens who have supplied their overseas address will receive notice to enrol, or can go to the Electoral Commission website."

It is estimated that up to one million New Zealanders live overseas.

The number living in the Middle East and North Africa region is relatively modest, but up to 7,000 stay in the UAE, around 1,500 in Saudi Arabia and another 300 in Kuwait.

This year the government has also introduced new legislation that will make it possible for voters to enrol online.

However, it still requires an election form to be printed, signed and sent by post.

"Votes will be conducted by post or fax, yet I advise New Zealanders to check out the website to verify eligibility to vote in the upcoming general elections and the referendum," said Mr Chambers.

New Zealand uses the Mixed Member Proportional voting system, which gives voters two votes - one for a political party and another for their local MP.

This year's election is expected to be a two-way fight between the two major parties.

The National, led by John Key, occupies the majority of seats in the House of Representatives with 58 of the 120 seats.

The main opposition comes from the Labour Party led by Phil Goff, which has 42 seats. Other contenders include the Green Party, Maori Party and ACT Party. The election will be held on November 26. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Expatriates | New Zealand | elections | voting |

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