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A study of politically enforced self-restraint, Janet McLean

In Search of Consensus: New Zealand’s Electoral Act 1956 and its Constitutional Legacy
Elizabeth McLeay
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781776561841

As I write, the sitting president of the United States of America is reported to be seriously contemplating the use of his powers of pardon to pardon himself. Such proposed conduct illustrates just how much all constitutions, written or unwritten, require large measures of self-restraint on the part of officials and politicians in order to work properly. Constitutional lawyers, political scientists and pundits tend to focus on these and other incidents in which politicians test the limits of their powers. In her new book, In Search of Consensus: New Zealand’s Electoral Act 1956 and its Constitutional Legacy, Elizabeth McLeay does something which is much more original. She makes a study of the voluntary and wholly politically enforced self-restraint by New Zealand politicians in the Electoral Act 1956 and its successor legislation.

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Placing the monarchy, Stephen Levine

This Realm of New Zealand: The Sovereign, the Governor-General, the Crown
Alison Quentin-Baxter and Janet McLean
Auckland University Press, $65.00,
ISBN 9781869408756

To say that this book adds considerably to the literature about the monarchy in New Zealand would be an understatement. For those interested in the position of the Queen (and her successors) with respect to New Zealand, as well as in possible alternatives, this is an indispensable work. Produced by two distinguished scholars – Janet McLean is a professor of law at the University of Auckland; Dame Alison Quentin-Baxter has had a long career, contributing her expertise to constitutional developments in New Zealand as well as overseas – the book introduces a wealth of information not only about the role of the monarch but also about her/his representative (from 1841 the Governor; since 1917 the Governor-General), a position of significance in its own right. 

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